Friday, November 20, 2009

Foreign Fighters

American soldiers joined forces in Anbar Province , Iraq with locals who were tired of foreign fighters – al Qaeda-linked soldiers – who had come to run roughshod over the area Sunnis. It was a real alliance and it worked, for a while, until U.S. forces began to pull out, and the heavily Shiite-loaded government took over the mission of policing the country. The Sunni minority, once the rulers of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, were now the repressed minority under majority Shiite rule. But they surely didn’t want al Qaeda’s arrogant foreigners in their midst.

If there weren’t Americans and NATO allies roaming about in Afghanistan , the main “foreigners” – al Qeada fighters recruited from throughout the Islamic world –would be equally unwelcome. But NATO forces are just entirely too visible – religiously and culturally polar opposites to the indigenous populations – such that al Qaeda fighters can be a “necessary evil” in ousting the real aliens from deep under the Afghan skin. After all, Afghanistan is a land of tribal territories and local warlords; al Qaeda doesn’t fit particularly well into this paradigm. But Americans stick out even worse!

So as Americans continue to afford al Qaeda its Web-material and recruitment materials, as drones take out another village of innocents in the border region of Pakistan and trounce small villages in Afghan highlands, imposing “collateral damage” on civilians in search of high-ranking Taliban and al Qaeda operatives, al Qaeda clings to its anti-Western raison d’être. We were supposed to build roads, schools, hospitals and power grids. Oh well.

So what happens to countries when there are no NATO forces or ugly Americans to oust? What do local Islamic militants think about al Qaeda’s techniques where there aren’t any pink-skinned enemies to evict? CNN has been asking that exact question in “a two-year CNN investigative report into peace talks held between the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and the Libyan Government which recently culminated in the LIFG, a militant jihadist group once close to Osama bin Laden, repudiating al Qaeda. ‘The Jihadi Code.’” November 10th,

Let’s face it; when they really watch al Qaeda killing innocents, blasting civilian targets with suicide bombs, proselytizing their über-Muslim-unity against the world mantra, and arrogantly pushing villagers around under their thinly disguised elitism, al Qaeda’s early luster has vaporized significantly in the face of their unsupportable cruelty. We may not be making friends among the remaining Muslims in the world, but then neither is al Qaeda.

We just need to stop being the obvious main target in our military exploits and let the locals discover exactly how much they despise al Qaeda’s tactics. They almost always do. CNN: “Although they'd been brothers in arms with bin Laden, the LIFG never merged its operations with al Qaeda due to differences in approach. In particular the Libyan group never endorsed bin Laden's global jihad, preferring to concentrate their attention on overthrowing [ Libya ’s Col. Moammar] Gadhafi regime and replacing it with an Islamic state. From the mid-1990s the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group's Afghan-trained fighters waged a fierce insurgency against the Libyan regime.” The schism between al Qaeda and other Islamists is really beginning to widen as the new code is being increasingly adopted.

CNN again: “The new code, a 417-page religious document entitled ‘Corrective Studies’ is the result of more than two years of intense and secret talks between the leaders of the LIFG and Libyan security officials... The code's most direct challenge to al Qaeda is this: ‘Jihad has ethics and morals because it is for God. That means it is forbidden to kill women, children, elderly people, priests, messengers, traders and the like. Betrayal is prohibited and it is vital to keep promises and treat prisoners of war in a good way. Standing by those ethics is what distinguishes Muslims' jihad from the wars of other nations.... The code has been circulated among some of the most respected religious scholars in the Middle East and has been given widespread backing. It is being debated by politicians in the U.S. and studied by western intelligence agencies.’”

The President has been struggling with a request by the military for a significant increase in U.S./NATO troop strength in Afghanistan and on-the-ground questions by our own ambassador there: “Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has stated that without the deployment of up to 40,000 additional of troops within the next year, the mission ‘will likely result in failure.’ But some aides are arguing for a much smaller troop increase, and the U.S. ambassador in Kabul , Karl W. Eikenberry, has questioned whether the Afghan government can be a reliable partner.” November 19 Washington Post.

General, exactly what is success? And why should the Taliban and al Qaeda operatives cringe in fear when, if the pressure gets too great, they can always find safe haven in the tribal districts of Pakistan … and wait us out? Sometimes, freelancing as a target doesn’t really get you where you want to go. Okay, America , let’s make al Qaeda the main target there!

Technology has been America ’s “ace in the hole” when dealing with our enemies, and whatever plans may be put forward in the next few weeks, it appears that high tech weapons will be used even more. "‘We expect [close air support missions] to increase. As ground forces become more dispersed and separated from their supporting forces, air power is going to be that capability that allows them to have that kinetic or non-kinetic effect as required,'’ said Air Force Lt. Col. John Edwards, deputy chief of plans for the command, known as AFCENT… ‘Kinetic’ is the military's polite term for ‘explosive.'” (Nov. 20)

Unfortunately, that reliance on high tech weapons, because we couldn’t possibly deploy a large enough ground force, is a profoundly effective recruiting tool for al Qaeda and the Taliban: “‘The blind bombardment on [sic] civilian targets, night raids on people's houses, murder, tortures, bombardments on funeral and wedding ceremonies are some of the crimes the invaders have perpetuated during the past eight years,' said a Nov. 5 Taliban communiqué, according to a translation by the NEFA Foundation, which monitors extremist Web sites.

The White House has indicated that no decision is likely before Thanksgiving. As Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the recent “victor” in a very questionable election, began his second term in office – with dignitaries like U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in town – exactly why are we the champions of a regime that redefines corruption? Is there anything more we can do to make al Qaeda and the Taliban look any more sympathetic? Ms. Clinton conveyed President Obama’s requirement that the Karzai government show “measurable results” in reducing corruption to justify U.S. efforts in the region.

Hey, U.S. government, did you ever hear the one about the frog and the scorpion? You know, the one where the frog rescues the pleading scorpion from a sandbar in a rising river… where the scorpion promises not to bite, kill and eat the generous frog if he will just save the scorpion by taking him out of harm’s way (a short swim on the frog’s back)? And at the end of the rescue, the scorpion kills his savior, saying to the incredulous frog, “Hey, what do you expect? I’m a scorpion!” Helloooooo, Mr. Karzai!

I’m Peter Dekom, and I approve this message.

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