Sunday, January 03, 2010

Where the Threats Are

Where is the threat of jihad greatest and where does it pose the greatest concern for the US?

Pakistan? Yemen? Saudi Arabia? Iran? Somalia? The insurgency remaining in Iraq?

All of the above? None of the above?

Tunku Varadarajan says that the Obama Administration shouldn't take its eyes off the ball in Pakistan to deal with the mess in Yemen.

It's hard to disagree with Varadarajan in that Pakistan is teetering on the brink with al Qaeda and Taliban threatening the government in Islamabad; a government that has nuclear weapons at its disposal.
A nuclear-armed Muslim country with a fragile democratic government, Pakistan is our ostensible ally in the Afghan war against the Taliban and al Qaeda. The problem is, however, that the Pakistani military—which is not under civilian control, and which chafes continually against the democratically elected president, Asif Ali Zardari—wishes for nothing more fervently than the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan. The Obama administration cannot continue to ignore this obscene dance, in which the army of an allied state gives succor to the very enemy that young American soldiers fight daily in bloody battle.

This has to be the year in which the dance ends: The U.S. must demand that that the Pakistan Army sever its links with Mullah Omar and the Taliban military leadership. A case in point is the Taliban's Quetta shura, or council, which operates with impunity in the capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province. The country's generals must also be told that they can no longer protect groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which—in addition to butchering scores of Indians—sought out and killed American and Israeli nationals in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
The problem is that the threats have piled up since the 1980s because the US has been distracted from the dirty business of dealing with failed states around the world. Somalia remains a consistent threat against shipping and provides safe haven for jihadis. Yemen has been home to some of the most notable terror attacks, including the attack on the USS Cole, and al Qaeda is all too comfortable there.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are each exporting jihad to maintain control on their countries.

Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan form a ring along South Asia of Islamic extremists and all too fertile ground for al Qaeda and other terror groups. Iran's mullahs are busy trying to crack down against the Iranian people who have grown weary of the regime's machinations to maintain control.

Somalia and Yemen both pose threats to sea traffic through the Red Sea and have repeatedly harbored al Qaeda terrorists that are able to evade the feeble government attempts to dispatch them.

Afghanistan was a terror safe haven prior to 9/11 and Iraq formerly sponsored international terrorism to pursue its agenda. Iran still does.

The world, and the US in particular, must reevaluate its approach to failed states, because the failure to do so will have repercussions long into the future.

So, to push a strategy for dealing with Pakistan while diminishing the need to deal with Yemen is one that will result in problems down the road; the threat has to be dealt with all across the globe; not just in the fashionable locales (Islamabad, Tehran, etc.).

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