(The Hindu) In fashioning its Afghan policy, India has to take into account a resurgent Taliban
India’s options and the Pashtun factor
(The Hindu) In fashioning its Afghan policy, India has to take into account a resurgent Taliban
India has formally taken over operations at Iran’s strategic Chabahar Port, a move that could have significant geopolitical ramifications in the region. The port on the Indian Ocean, inaugurated last year, is being built largely by India and is expected to provide a key supply route for Afghanistan while allowing India to bypass rival Pakistan to trade with Central Asia. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
It’s practically an axiom of Israeli politics that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is invincible because he doesn’t have any serious challengers. But what if the fragmented center-left opposition joined forces? Talk of a united front against Netanyahu percolated this week as polls showed him handily winning a fifth term in early elections, his popularity undented by a string of corruption allegations that threaten to land him in court. The Knesset formally voted Wednesday night to dissolve itself and hold elections April 9. – Bloomberg
For Benjamin Netanyahu, 2019 could be the year he surpasses founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. It could also be the year he’s forced to step down to fight the legal battle of his life. The Israeli parliament’s decision to trigger early elections April 9 means that Netanyahu will be running for re-election even as the attorney general mulls whether to indict the prime minister in a sprawling corruption investigation. – Bloomberg
Luke Coffey, James Jay Carafano, Thomas Spoehr, and Walter Lohman write: There is a huge space between victory and defeat and that is where the U.S. is today in Afghanistan and that is where the U.S. is likely to remain for the foreseeable future. Until there is a genuine peace settlement between all Afghans, and until Pakistan stops providing succor to the Taliban, we should accept that this is as good as it is going to get. This is not defeat. This is reality.- Heritage Foundation
At a time when the conventional Afghan military and police forces are being killed in record numbers across the country, the regional forces overseen by the C.I.A. have managed to hold the line against the most brutal militant groups[…]. But the units have also operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity, in a covert campaign that some Afghan and American officials say is undermining the wider American effort to strengthen Afghan institutions. – New York Times
The Truth About the Soviet War in Afghanistan
// Gregory Feifer
Trump mischaracterized it in an attempt to justify his own disastrous policy in the region.
How Trump Can Right Foreign Policy
By BENNY AVNI, Special to the Sun | December 26, 2018
US said to set up new bases near Iraq-Syria border
The United States has established two new military bases in Iraq's western Anbar province near the Syrian border, an Iraqi official said Tuesday. “The US Army has established two new military facilities in uninhabited parts of the province,” Farhan al-Duleimi, a member of Anbar's provisional council, told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
One base is in the northern Rumana subdistrict, while the other was set up east of the city of al-Rutbah, roughly 200 miles west of Ramadi and less than 60 miles from the Syrian border. “Scores of US soldiers are currently stationed at the two bases, along with drones and other equipment,” Duleimi said. The Iraqi government and the US military have not confirmed Duleimi's assertions.
The questions Turkey’s Erdogan wouldn’t answer
Michael Rubin | AEIdeas
Turkey Turns on America by Uzay Bulut •
Biased World? Turks Operating in Syria Judged Differently Than Israel
by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
December 23, 2018
Tectonic Shifts in Attitudes toward Israelby Daniel Pipes
December 27, 2018
Will US exit from Syria change terrain of Turkey's road map?
President Donald Trump's abrupt announcement that he will pull US troops out of Syria has Turkey reassessing the situation.
India's Land Warfare Doctrine 2018
By Joy Mitra, The Diplomat: “A 2018 iteration of India's Land Warfare Doctrine merits a close look.”
Indian Army announces new land warfare doctrine
(IHS Jane’s 360) The Indian Army (IA) is seeking to create integrated battle groups (IBGs), expand its cyber warfare capabilities, and induct energy-directed weapons as well as artificial intelligence-based systems to manage multiple security challenges, the service announced in its Land Warfare Doctrine-2018.
Pakistan Acknowledges Indian Role in Afghanistan
By Samuel Ramani, The Diplomat: “On December 11, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi surprised international observers by acknowledging India’s stake in Afghanistan and asking New Delhi to help end the war in Afghanistan.
So the President Wants Out of Afghanistan: What Happens Next?
By Jonathan Schroden, War on the Rocks: “Earlier this week, I took a look back at a congressionally mandated assessment of the war in Afghanistan that I led nearly five years ago. Yesterday, reports emerged that President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to develop plans to withdraw 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, potentially as early as this spring. Given this news, it is worth revisiting a part of our assessment that I did not discuss previously: our consideration of two withdrawal scenarios.”
Robert D. Kaplan writes: Do we owe it to the Afghan people to stay? Not if the ideals that we claim to represent appear unachievable. Spending billions and stationing thousands of troops there with no end in sight to stem a deepening chaos is simply not sustainable policy. Even a small fraction of that money could be better spent on smarter infrastructure investments in Asia, such as liquid natural gas terminals and dual-use ports in Vietnam to compete with China’s maritime Belt and Road Initiative. – New York Times
How insecurity in Iran's southeast could benefit UAE, Pakistan
Regional rivalry over maritime trade has intensified speculations in Iran about possible Emirati-Pakistani involvement in the recent terror attack in the southeastern port of Chabahar.
China, Pakistan hatch ‘secret plan’ to build new fighter jets: NYT
BY ASIA TIMES STAFF
Military projects said to be designated as part of Belt and Road Initiative
It was time to leave Syria anyway
(Defense One) ISIS is a spent force militarily, and whatever mandate the United States might have had in Syria has run its course. We are not there to take the nation into our custody to rebuild it, or to confront Iran, Russia, and Assad.
Analysis: The costs of withdrawal from Afghanistan
President Trump's decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan will have consequences. The Taliban and al Qaeda will declare victory, while the US will find it harder to hunt terrorists throughout the region.
To Succeed in Syria, Don't Withdraw — Rebrand
// Hassan Hassan
The president's plan is a disaster. If he wants to claim victory, there's a better way.
Pentagon Planning to Withdraw Up to 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan
By Lolita C. Baldor, AP: “The Pentagon is developing plans to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Thursday, marking a sharp change in the Trump administration’s policy aimed at forcing the Taliban to the peace table after more than 17 years of war.”
The Islamic State is not defeated in Syria. Or anywhere else. Look at Africa.
Emily Estelle | AEIdeas
Trump made the right decision to quit Syrian conflict
BY M.K. BHADRAKUMAR
Despite the criticism, there is a strong argument that the US president has done the right thing by withdrawing his forces from Syria
Trump’s Syria pullout shakes up US Mideast policy
The US president’s snap decision to withdraw 2,200 US troops from Syria will have an impact across the region.
BENNY AVNI: NY POST
The Syria withdrawl may be Trump’s biggest blunder to date
In what will likely mark the worst foreign-policy decision of his presidency to date, President Trump on Wednesday announced that he is ceding Syria to the jackals. “We have defeated…
Barack Hussein Trump and the failure of leadership on Syria
Danielle Pletka | AEIdeas
Far from “ending” any war a la Obama, Trump, like his predecessor, has ensured a continued threat to US interests and a victory for Tehran and terrorists. As the president himself might say, this is weak.
Fixing Afghanistan’s flawed peace process
In February, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban unconditional talks to negotiate a political settlement. To support the process, the United States also initiated direct talks with the Taliban, which the Taliban had been demanding. The Taliban have since responded by intensifying their campaign of violence, killing hundreds of civilians, including 10 candidates in the recent parliamentary election and their supporters. The Taliban have also refused to talk to the Afghan government. Many Afghans want...
Ahmad Chalabi and the Great Man Theory of History by Richard Hanania
Analysis: The Islamic State hasn’t been defeated
President Trump claimed earlier today that the Islamic State has been "defeated" in Syria. But an unknown number of the group's top leaders, including presumably Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain alive. And there are likely thousands of fighters in both Syria and Iraq, where they operate as insurgents.
'Red Vests' flood Tunisian streets on 8th anniversary of revolution
Tunisia's answer to France's Yellow Vest protests, Les Gilets Rouges, is advocating for poor and marginalized Tunisians with economic and social demands.
Tunisian activists ready to walk the walk
A group of young Tunisian civil society activists established the Red Vest campaign in protest against the worsening economic and social situation in Tunisia.
Marc A. Thiessen writes: Today, when it comes to Saudi Arabia, Trump is — like Bush — in an impossible position. The United States must stand for human rights. But it must also preserve its relationship with Saudi Arabia, the only nation in the Middle East that can serve as a bulwark against Iran, the main strategic threat to U.S. interests in the region. – Washington Post
Michael Singh writes: To maintain a strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia, there are several steps the United States can take to make its diplomacy with Riyadh more effective and make clear that U.S. support is not unconditional. At the same time, the Khashoggi episode should serve as a wake-up call for American policymakers looking to work increasingly through allies in the Middle East as the United States shifts its attention elsewhere. U.S. policy toward other partners in the region must also be reset if these partnerships are to remain effective. – War on the Rocks
David Pollock writes: In the wake of the Khashoggi scandal, a rare new public opinion poll in Saudi Arabia shows wide popular concern about corruption and a number of other internal problems. At the same time, the survey data demonstrates only minority support for the official initiative of Islamic reform. Ironically, then, this prime locus of support on the part of outside powers for Saudi policy shifts is also precisely the area of greatest internal debate. – Washington Institute
NETANYAHU OUTLASTS HIS POLITICAL OPPONENTS & MARTIN KRAMER DISCUSSES ISRAELI TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN STATESMANSHIP
Zev Chafets writes: The prospect of a snap Israeli general election has faded for the moment, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition surviving the sudden departure of a key ally. […]Many of Netanyahu’s critics see this as golden opportunity to bring him down. But I think they are too optimistic. For one thing, the prime minister is popular, more so than any of his key rivals. For another, it is not certain that he will be indicted before the election. And finally, even if he is, that may not stop him from running — and winning. – Bloomberg
IRANIAN PROXIES IN LEBANON MURDER CIA STATION CHIEF UNDER REAGAN & LEBANON GETS IRANIAN PRECISION MISSILES
Why Russian Domestic Politics Make U.S. Sanctions Less Effective by Thomas Wonder
The Road to Damascus: The Arabs March Back to Befriend Assad by Kamal Alam and David Lesch
A Game as Old as Empire: The Return of Proxy Wars in Afghanistan
By Tamim Asey, Small Wars Journal: “History is repeating itself in Afghanistan. Proxy wars and great power politics is returning to the country."
A Path Forward in Afghanistan
By Bharath Gopalaswamy, Atlantic Council: “One year on, there appears to be little to show for U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan.”
Five Years Ago, We Assessed the War in Afghanistan for Congress: How Did We Do?
by Jonathan Schroden