Thursday, Sept 11, 2008
The day before the seventh anniversary of al Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attacks on the US, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said of the war which followed those attacks: “I’m not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can.”
Mullen was the first high-ranking American officer to admit frankly that the United States is not winning the war on terror, or beating al Qaeda and Taliban.
Saturday, the US commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus – soon to be head of the Central Command – spoke in a similar vein: “You will not find any military leader who will say this…all we can say is al Qaeda is still dangerous,” he said when asked if al Qaeda had been defeated in Iraq.
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DEBKAfile’s military and counter-terror sources note that the two commanders’ frank words lay bare the impasse reached in America’s war on terror, with no real strategic solution for defeating al Qaeda and Taliban, either in Afghanistan or Pakistan – or even in Iraq, where a semi-victory over Osama bin Laden’s terrorists has been achieved.
Mullen’s proposed application of US tactics in Afghanistan to Pakistan would take the war into the troubled border regions of that country, where the terrorists enjoy sanctuary, and even into the Pakistan heartland.
In the past two weeks, US forces have stepped up their Predator drone missile strikes on Taliban bases in those border regions and US commandos have carried out at least one cross-border ground raid against a Taliban center.
Our sources add that president George Bush’s reported signature in July on new military orders authorizing US ground action on both sides of the border without permission from Pakistan provides for a more aggressive campaign against the two groups, but comes a year too late to easily reverse the tide of war. With time on their side, Taliban and al Qaeda have deepened their grip on the tribal population hosting their havens and established logistical bases outside the targeted tribal areas in new areas of control inside Pakistan proper.
Islamabad has tried warning the Americans to stop these attacks, which are bound to bring them into confrontation with Pakistani forces. The Pakistan populace is so enraged by the civilian casualties caused that they are rallying around al Qaeda and Taliban and against the government.
Shortly after Mullen spoke, the Pakistani chief of staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani said the Pakistan army would not permit American troops to operate in their country. This was a repetition of the refusal he gave Mullen and Petraeus when they met aboard the Abraham Lincoln last month.
All in all, in September 2008, the US-led NATO anti-terror campaign is weighed down by three major disadvantages:
1. They have not caught Osama bin Laden and have no idea where he and his staff are hiding.
2. Notwithstanding major successes in Iraq, al Qaeda’s spread has not been curbed. To the contrary, its cells are active on the Indian subcontinent and in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
3. There are indications that in several countries, including the US and big European and Middle East cities, al Qaeda has developed a capability for massive attacks by means of radioactive or “dirty” bombs.
This article was posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 3:58 am