Sunday, July 15, 2007

Leading Indicators in Afghanistan

Cernig caught the British warning that they and therefore the United States are facing strategic failure in Afghanistan due to the overwhelming focus that their national security apparartus has placed on Iraq and their failures there.

The British military is strategically immobile for at least the next three years and there is almost no deployment flexibility within their force structure. I have often used the state of the British military as a basic heuristic to indicate what the DOD will be announcing in public and to Congress around Christmas of this coming year.

As far as what this could mean in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I am going into the comments of Cernig's post and grabbing the very astute thinking of our regular commenter empty:

What happens in Afghanistan is very very important. Because whatever happens there will be amplified in Pakistan. If there is a stable government in Afghanistan - with or without the Taliban - and economic development with help from NATO, Pakistan will be stable and continue with the development of civil society and maybe even parliamentary democracy. If NATO fails in Afghanistan and the Taliban and their allies take power as victors in an armed conflict (without Pakistani help) then the influence of Taliban allies in NWFP would grow tremendously. There have always been separatist tendencies in NWFP which would gain momentum. A significant number of Pakistani military officers are from the NWFP and while, under normal circumstances their loyalties are with the institution of the military, if we get the nightmare scenario of the military having to quell Pashtoon separatists what will happen is anyone's guess. And that could be the first of the dominoes. I think the notion of a Sunni Shia war is far fetched. What is much more likely is local contradictions surfacing. Muhajir/Sindhi/Pushtoon conflicts in Sind, a Balochi uprising on steroids perhaps with the help of the Iranians, and so on. The fracture lines are going to be ethnic not sectarian. This is one of the major reasons the Pakistan military has tried to hedge its bets with the Taliban. When the US showed it was not that interested in Afghanistan, it became clear that NATO could not hold the fort without committed support from the US. At this point when you start going down the decision trees you run up against the Taliban down each path.....
Update By Cernig Talking of unrest in Pakistan's North-West:
Pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan region say they have ended their truce with the government. In a statement issued in Miranshah, the main town, the militants accused the government of breaking the agreement. Last September's truce had ended two years of clashes and was aimed at stopping cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
Pakistan is linking this truce-breaking announcement and a wave of new violence in the region to the blooshed at the Red Mosque. But if the Brits are right, then the Red Mosque and these events on the Afghan/Pakistan border are both occuring because of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

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