WASHINGTON, Sep 5, 2011 (IPS) – When David Petraeus walks into the Central Intelligence Agency Tuesday, he will be taking over an organisation whose mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analysing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia.
But the transformation of the CIA did not simply follow the expansion of the drone war in Pakistan to its present level. CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment. Continue reading →
WASHINGTON, Aug 31, 2011 (IPS) – In focusing entirely on the alleged links between four Hezbollah activists and the 2005 bombing that killed Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the indictment issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon earlier this month has continued the practice of the U.N investigation before it of refusing to acknowledge the much stronger evidence that an Al-Qaeda cell was responsible for the assassination.Continue reading →
WASHINGTON, Aug 29, 2011 (IPS) – The indictment of four men linked to Hezbollah in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri made public by the Special Tribunal on Lebanon Aug. 17 is questionable not because it is based on “circumstantial evidence”, but because that evidence is based on a flawed premise.
The evidence depends on a convoluted theory involving what the indictment calls “co-location” of personal mobile phones associated with five distinct networks said to be somehow connected with the plot to murder Hariri. Continue reading →
ISLAMABAD, Aug 16, 2011 (IPS) – Pakistani civilian and military leaders are insisting on an effective veto over which targets U.S. drone strikes hit, according to well-informed Pakistani military sources here.
The sources, who met with IPS on condition that they not be identified, said that such veto power over the conduct of the drone war is a central element in a new Pakistani demand for a formal government-to-government agreement on the terms under which the United States and Pakistan will cooperate against insurgents in Pakistan. Continue reading →
KABUL, Jul 28, 2011 (IPS) – The Taliban leadership is ready to negotiate peace with the United States right now if Washington indicates its willingness to provide a timetable for complete withdrawal, according to a former Afghan prime minister who set up a secret meeting between a senior Taliban official and a U.S. general two years ago. Continue reading →
WASHINGTON, Jul 14, 2011 (IPS) – The big question looming over U.S.-Iraqi negotiations on a U.S. military presence after 2011 is what game Shi’a leader Moqtada al-Sadr is playing on the issue.
U.S. officials regard Sadr as still resisting the U.S. military presence illegally and are demanding that Sadr call off his Promised Day Brigades completely.
But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s main point of contact with Sadr says Sadr is playing a double game and does not intend to obstruct the negotiations on a deal for the stationing of 10,000 or more U.S. troops from 2012 onward. Continue reading →
U.S. Army soldiers air assault from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter into a village inside Jowlzak valley in Afghanistan's Parwan province on Feb. 3, 2011.
By Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON, Jul 3, 2011 (IPS) – Data on attacks by armed opposition forces and U.S. combat casualties since the U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan was completed last summer provide clear evidence that the surge and the increase in targeted killings by Special Operations Forces have failed to break the momentum of the Taliban.
The Taliban and allied insurgent organisations launched 54 percent more attacks and killed or wounded 56 percent more U.S. troops over the nine months from last October through May than in the comparable period a year earlier, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Defence and by the highly-respected Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO). Continue reading →
WASHINGTON, Jun 23, 2011 (IPS) – President Barack Obama’s speech announcing that the 33,000 “surge” troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by “summer” 2012 indicates that he has given priority to the interests of the military and the Pentagon over concerns by key officials in his administration over the impact of the war’s costs on domestic socioeconomic needs. Continue reading →
WASHINGTON, Jun 12, 2011 (IPS) – During his intensive initial round of media interviews as commander in Afghanistan in August 2010, Gen. David Petraeus released figures to the news media that claimed spectacular success for raids by Special Operations Forces: in a 90-day period from May through July, SOF units had captured 1,355 rank and file Taliban, killed another 1,031, and killed or captured 365 middle or high-ranking Taliban. Continue reading →
WASHINGTON, Jun 7, 2011 (IPS) – Al-Qaeda strategists have been assisting the Taliban fight against U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan because they believe that foreign occupation has been the biggest factor in generating Muslim support for uprisings against their governments, according to the just-published book by Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistani journalist whose body was found in a canal outside Islamabad last week with evidence of having been tortured. Continue reading →