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NightWatch 20091208

NightWatch

For the Night of 8 December 2009

Japan-US: Update. Foreign Minister Okada said Japan and the United States suspended discussions at a high-level working group established to seek a solution to relocating a U.S. military airfield in Okinawa, according to The Associated Press today. Okada said the working group is suspended and is waiting to see whether a situation will develop in which discussions should be held again. He said there have been talks about a delay in reaching a decision and about searching for other options, but added that goes beyond the capacity of the working group.

The hardnosed attitude by the US Defense Secretary about renegotiating the base relocation agreement made by a prior US administration has failed and appears to have backfired. The US military presence supports alliance objectives, but those do not confer a blank check and do not alter the fact that the US military is a guest everywhere outside the US.

India-Russia: Update. India has received the first four MiG-29 Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets that it ordered from Russia in a January 2004 contract as part of a $1.5 billion deal for the delivery of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which currently is being retrofitted in Russia for delivery to the Indian Navy, RIA Novosti reported 8 December.

This is the strongest indication that the Gorshkov deal finally is settled. Delivery is still a few years in the distance, but the haggling appears done.

Pakistan: Dr. Kaleem of Rescue 1122 stated that at least 12 people were killed and 10 others injured in twin blasts in the Qasim Bela area of Multan Cantonment, near the local headquarters of the Interservices Intelligence Directorate, the News International reported 8 December.

Multan is the location of one of the Pakistan Army's two armored attack corps. The latest attacks in Rawalpindi, Lahore and now Multan suggest ex Army and other security personnel are involved in the planning process.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said evidence of India's involvement in terror incidents in Pakistan have been given to the foreign office in Islamabad, APP news service reported 7 December.

These accusations appear crafted to try to deflect onto Indian agents some of the blame for Pakistan's lethal intelligence and security failures.

The Pakistan economy is the most important potential victim of the rash of bombings and the security operations. A quick survey shows the economy has done well during the world wide recession, growing at over 5% per annum. Reserves are high but foreign direct investment has plummeted owing to the decrease in internal security.

The resilience of the economy is about the only asset the Zardari administration has retained and can claim justifiably as one of its accomplishments. It is now in jeopardy because of the counterinsurgency operations in the North West and the bombings which now afflict every major city without warning. Without improved security, the economy will sink. Security and economic develop are sequential.

Afghanistan: A NightWatch review of security incidents in the first week of December shows no sign of surge. The most interesting event was a clash in Konduz Province in northern Afghanistan in which the Taliban got shellacked by a tribal militia force. The government description of the incident said the police whacked the Talebs, but the Talebs' spokesman said it was a tribal militia. That makes it tonight's good news.

Anecdotal news reports continue to indicate that the Taliban are not popular among the Pashtuns. The local Taliban shadow administration in the district is decisive and swift in its problem solving style. It does not indulge Western jurisprudential practices of adversarial arguments. It searches for the truth, over justice, and quick settlement of disputes. That is appealing and people move on. It is identical to the Taliban propaganda campaign that brought them to power without much fighting in 1986 - they ended the fighting.

The lingering strong distaste for atavistic Taliban applications of Quranic law is an enormous potential asset for an honest district or provincial governor loyal to the government. The credibility of the government in Kabul is irrelevant. The integrity and wisdom of local government officials are irreplaceable.

Taliban are not winning the conflict, but they are winning the bureaucratic battle. Pashtuns hold their nose and accept swift resolution of disputes and life goes on, rather than struggle with bribes, dash, and never ending appeals in Western-transplanted dispute settlement procedures, usually called modern courts. Rural Afghanistan is not ready for all of that modern overburden.

Iran: Update. Chief Iranian Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi said protesters will no longer face leniency, speaking after tens of thousands marched against the government at universities throughout the nation, The Associated Press reported 8 December, citing IRNA. People who violate the law, destroy public property and cause disorder will face security and judiciary officials, he said, Press TV reported.

In contrast to the internal crackdown, Iran released from prison three Belgians who had been jailed for spying. Tehran General and Revolution Prosecutor, Abbas Ja'fari-Dowlatabadi, announced the release after a ruling by the judicial inspector which the Prosecutor approved. The three Belgian nationals had entered restricted areas two months ago and were accused of gathering intelligence.

Iranian authorities provided no reasons for releasing the Belgians who were delivered to the Belgian Embassy today. Iran appears to be intent on presenting its justice system as balanced, thoughtful and civilized to the modern world. Not so for internal dissidents, however.

Iran-Saudi Arabia-US: Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran's nuclear expert Shahram Amiri who was kidnapped on a pilgrimage visit to Saudi Arabia last May was turned over to Washington by Riyadh officials, Iran's Mehr News Agency reported 8 December.

Mehmanparast accused the United States of abducting Iranian citizens, adding that Iran's Foreign Ministry has done everything in its capacity to obtain release of 11 Iranian nationals that were abducted directly by the United States or its agents across the globe.

The best reporting about the 11 and on Shahram Amiri indicates they defected. One commentator suggests Amiri was the source the led to the discovery of the secret nuclear facility last month. If so, expect more "spontaneous" discoveries to be announced.

Iraq: For the record. Five car bombs rocked Baghdad killing at least 101 people and wounding 182, Aaj TV reported 8 December. Two car bombs exploded near the labor and interior ministries and a suicide attacker driving a car struck a police patrol in Dora.

Three explosions in central Baghdad occurred within minutes of each other. The two remaining car bombs targeted a criminal court building in Mansour in western Baghdad, and a market in Shorjah in the city center.

Day by day, the security situation is deteriorating. This should surprise no Readers and it will get much worse in the next few months.

Poland: Polish troops will withdraw from U.N. operations in the Golan Heights, Lebanon and Chad, News from Poland reported today. The withdrawal is a result of the new Polish defense strategy, which gives priority to NATO and EU-led missions, and to defense budget cuts. Poland will withdraw 300 troops from Chad and 470 troops from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

The Poles have narrowed the focus of their military adventures to those that bind NATO to Poland's national security. UN and EU missions are nice adventures in flush times, but they lack any binding commitment to the defense of Poland remotely comparable to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.

Poland and the Baltic states may be relied on to remind other members about the meaning of Article 5, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all. That is the legal justification for so many members sending troops to Afghanistan. The US invoked Article 5 in order to remove bin Laden and the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001.

Canada: For the record. General Walt Natynczyk, chief of Canada's defense staff, confirmed today that Canada's 2,800-strong military contingent in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by the end of 2011, Reuters reported. Natynczyk said Canada's military mission will formally end in June 2011 and all troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year.

Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM): A spokesman for al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed the kidnappings of one Frenchman and three Spaniards , missing since late last month in Mali and Mauritania, Al Jazeera reported 8 December.

On an audiotape, al Qaida spokesman Saleh Abu Mohammad said the "mujahedeen" kidnapped four Europeans in two operations, the first in Mali where Frenchman Pierre Camatte was seized 25 November, and the second in Mauritania where three Spaniards were captured 29 November. The spokesman identified the Spanish hostages, adding that France and Spain will be informed later of demands.

AQIM evidently is reduced to kidnapping Europeans to finance their criminal depredations against Algeria, primarily. Pathetic.

Venezuela: President Chavez said Venezuela received thousands of Russian-made missiles and rocket launchers as part of his government's military preparations for a possible armed conflict with neighboring Colombia, The Associated Press reported 8 December. During a televised address Chavez said Colombia is planning a war against Venezuela and preparing is the best way to neutralize it.

Chavez did not identify what type of missiles, but said Venezuela's growing arsenal includes Russian-made Igla-1S surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Chavez added that Russian tanks, including T-72s, will arrive to strengthen the armored "divisions."

Honduras: Two assassinations occurred today. Gunmen killed retired Army Colonel Osiris O'Connor and his driver near the village of El Eden on 8 December, Proceso Digital reported, citing Honduran police. O'Connor, reportedly a cousin of interim President Roberto Micheletti, formerly served as head of the Honduran Navy.

Honduras' general director in charge of combating drug trafficking, Julian Aristides Gonzalez, also was shot dead 8 December on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, The Associated Press reported, citing a police spokesman. Gonzalez was traveling in his car when two gunmen on motorcycles opened fire at close range on his vehicle.

Some entity is attempting to exact revenge on Micheletti's supporters, it seems. Who benefits?

Notes to new analysts of insurgencies:

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, a good guy, told the US Marines soon to deploy to Afghanistan, "We are not winning, which means we are losing and as we are losing, the message traffic, out there to insurgency recruits keeps getting better and better and more keep coming."

Something is seriously wrong in this formulation of the problem.

NightWatch has studied more than 60 internal instability problems, including dozens of ongoing insurgencies in the past 42 years. In the latest NightWatch Special Report on Afghanistan, the data showed the fight in Afghanistan still is an insurgency. It is not a revolutionary movement.

The Taliban and supporting groups have expanded to the limits of Pashtun enclaves in Afghanistan, but have not converted the fight into a national uprising. Even in the Pashtun south, the Taliban are considered the lesser of two evils, the other being corrupt local - not national - officials.

A small measure of sustained American-style security and honest government - not always guaranteed even in the US - would transform Taliban sympathizers into pro-US sympathizers. And eventually into pro-government supporters.

Based on the NW study of insurgencies, the NATO-US-Afghan Coalition is not winning, as Admiral Mullen said, but that DOES NOT MEAN it is losing. Insurgency is the label for a stable, chronic condition of internal instability. It may be represented as an equation in which government resources match insurgent resources: Insurgency = (Resources.Gov + Resources.insurgents = 1).

Insurgency is a rung on a ladder of instability phenomena in which the rung below is organized criminal behavior and the rung above is national revolutionary movement, heading for national revolution and change of government system. Such an end state would be re-installation of a Quran-based emirate in Kabul. That cannot happen as long as NATO forces back the Kabul government and that government does not abdicate.

These rungs on the ladder are known, well documented conditions. The Intelligence Community has failed to document them for 60 years, but the Warning Staff did for many decades, until it was disestablished.

The indicators of transition are well established, clear, plus auditable, replicable and non-refutable. There is no guess work here. The Taliban are NOT a national revolutionary movement and will never become one through their own efforts. Regrets to Mullah Omar, but 1996 will never come again.

The Taliban have expanded throughout the Pashtun communities because the Coalition lapsed in committing resources to match the increase in Islamic resources that flowed eastward from Iraq. Resources includes money, morale, tactical technique and weapons technology.

The Taliban created an imbalance in resources that the Coalition has taken two or more years to correct to maintain the fight as an insurgency.

The notion that "not winning" = "losing" exposes a failure of basic understanding about the nature of insurgency as a phenomenon of living systems. That might be what some folks think US Marines need to hear before deployment, but it is just not true. In insurgency studies, "not winning" means you are still in the fight. One hopes that is what Admiral Mullen intended to communicate to the Marines, because that is the truth in the data.

Insurgency is a chronic, not terminal condition. It will last as long as committed resources on both sides of the equation are roughly equal. If the forces of order gain additional resources that the insurgents cannot match, the insurgents decline into organized criminal bands - a police problem.

If the insurgents gain outside resources that the forces of order fail to match, they expand in the direction of a national revolution. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have moved in that direction, but the key point is they have failed to rally all the Pashtuns and have not expanded outside the Pashtun communities. That should be good news for clever Coalition leaders with insight.

Not winning means the fight is still roughly equal. And that is primarily attributed to uncontested air power, to insightful local Coalition commanders, and to the visceral Pashtun resistance to domination by any one. And that is tonight's good news.

End of NightWatch for 8 December.

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