Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pakistani Taliban Talks, Karachi Operation and Syrian Chem Weapons

There are more questions than answers after the All Parties Conference (APC) in Pakistan resolved to begin talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Karachi operation has run into resistance from MQM, the city's biggest political party. The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to account for, remove and destroy Syria's entire stockpile of chemical weapons.

All Parties Conference on Taliban Talks:

All Parties Conference (APC) held in Islamabad passed a resolution to begin talks with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) without pre-conditions. There is no requirement for the TTP to stop killing innocent Pakistanis as a condition of talks. Soon after, the TTP welcomed the offer and then proceeded to kill a top general along with two other soldiers in Upper Dir district of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Is this the beginning of yet another surrender similar to the one that occurred after the 2009 APC on Swat when the federal and provincial governments ceded power to the TTP in Swat? Will this attempt also fail just like the 2009  ANP-led peace deal with the Taliban?

Karachi Operation:

Another APC led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to launch an operation in Karachi to stop rising rates of murder, kidnappings, extortion and other crimes in which criminals belonging to the political parties are involved. It started out well but soon turned into a mass protest by the MQM when one of its leaders was arrested on murder charges.

History shows that the MQM, the city's most powerful political party, will continue to be a problem until it is made part of the solution. Karachi has seen relative peace only when MQM has been allowed to run Karachi's local government as it did in Musharraf years. From 2000-2008, average annual murder rate declined to about 100 or less , a remarkably low figure for a megacity of at least 15 million residents.

Syrian Chemical Weapons:

The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to account for, remove and destroy Syria's entire stockpile of chemical weapons. Syrian President Basahar Al-Assad has accepted it and also offered to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. This deal has stopped the planned US strikes against the Assad regime at least for the moment. But for how long? Is it realistic that Assad and Russia would be able to live up to the deal to Obama's satisfaction? Will Obama act against Syria? Is Assad on his last legs? Would US then have to deal with the Al Qaeda affiliated rebels in Syria?

For those who doubt American resolve, it is important to remember the following: In spite of its great technological advances, the US still retains many vestiges of its Wild West. With its powerful gun-rights advocates in many western, mid-western and southern states, the US is still a gun-slinging frontier society in many ways which makes it jealously guard its exceptional status in the world. The US seeks to avoid the fate of other great empires of the past which were brought down by barbarians and desert tribesmen over the centuries.

US intelligence analyst and author George Friedman in his book "The Next 100 Years" describes the United States as "young and barbaric" with the barbarian instincts to fight off most threats, including those from the rag-tag bands of  tribesmen and barbarians who have toppled great empires of the past like the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Persian empires, the Umayyid empire, the Abbasid empire and the Soviet empire.

Here's a video discussion on the above subjects:

APC and talks with Taliban; Karachi operation; Syria from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Putin Challenges US Exceptionalism 

Divide and Conquer Pakistani Taliban

Gangs of Karachi

Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Taliban Terror in Inaugural Speech

Taliban vs. Pakistan

Yet Another Peace Deal and Shia Blockade

Taliban Insurgency in Swat

Musharraf's Treason Trial

General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Pakistan Elections 2013 Predictions 

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube 

Syrian Situation; Taliban Talks; Zardari's Exit


Shams said...

You are right on APC.

You are wrong on Karachi killings. The numbers are higher when MQM is not in power because the others like Punjabi Nawaz take that as a window of opportunity. The high numbers in the first half of 1990s is due to f----- Punjabi Nawaz's operation re. Jinnahpur, with massive target killings by Punjabi ISI.

You are somewhat right on Syria, with some caveats. I believe the US is playing proxy for Israel while it is also in the process of re-colonizing Muslim coutnes, oil or no oil. You are wrong re. Assad lying about chem weapons. Assad never accepted nor denied their existence. It is stupid for him to give up the weapons that he could use when attacked. Once the weapons are gone, he will be left holding his dick.

You are also wrong in saying that Assad is like other Arab dictators. This man is an ophtalmologist by education and Syria is 100 times more democratic than f----- Saudia or f----- UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, etc.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "You are also wrong in saying that Assad is like other Arab dictators"

When people are misinformed, giving them facts to correct those errors only makes them cling to their beliefs more tenaciously.

Anonymous said...

Is the tide turning against Assad in Syria? "Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while." (Syrian Deputy PM) Mr Jamil insisted that he was speaking for the government.

Riaz Haq said...

Coming from a Syrian deputy prime minister, it was an unusual statement. The country’s crisis, he (Qadri Jameel) said, began in part with a “popular movement” of peaceful protesters angry over economic disparities, and descended into war in part because officials were slow to make changes and failed to realize that the “repression of the popular movement” would lead to disaster....Mr. Assad told the German magazine Der Spiegel, in an interview to be published on Monday, that he could not claim that the insurgents “did everything and we did nothing.” Reality, he said, has “shades of gray.”

Riaz Haq said...

Terror group #ISIS & #Egypt's Sisi flipsides of same coin?Religious vs Secular autocracy in #Arab World? #Iraq #Syria …

Here's a Tom Friedman Op Ed on ISIS vs Sisi models of governance in the Arab world:

The past month has presented the world with what the Israeli analyst Orit Perlov describes as the two dominant Arab governing models: ISIL and SISI.

ISIL, of course, is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the bloodthirsty Sunni militia that has gouged out a new state from Sunni areas in Syria and Iraq. SISI, of course, is Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the new strongman/president of Egypt, whose regime debuted this week by shamefully sentencing three Al-Jazeera journalists to prison

ISIL and SISI, argues Perlov, a researcher on Middle East social networks at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, are just flip sides of the same coin: one elevates "God" as the arbiter of all political life and the other "the national state."

Both have failed and will continue to fail - and require coercion to stay in power - because they cannot deliver for young Arabs and Muslims what they need most: the education, freedom and jobs to realize their full poten ..

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's #Swat region alive, thriving again as peace returns after successful military op against #TTP #Taliban

Here in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, known for gorgeous sunsets and the calming sound of cresting river rapids, there has been plenty of misery over the past decade.

First, Pakistani Taliban militants swept into this conservative part of northwestern Pakistan, killing more than 2,000 people. Then Pakistan’s army showed up to battle the Taliban, forcing 1.5 million residents to flee their homes. And even after soldiers regained control and residents returned, the 2012 shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was a reminder that life here remained cruel and unpredictable.

But now, with security finally improving, residents are releasing years of stress by flocking to new shopping and entertainment outlets that would have been unthinkable when the Taliban was executing men for shaving or women for dancing.

“Before, we were very scared of them. Our education system was totally down, because when you would go to school, every morning there would be a man lying with his head cut, thrown by the Taliban on the road,” said Arsalan Khan, 25, a resident of this medium-size city. “Now, we can just focus on how to live normally.”

Though Swat’s residents have long been more educated and wealthier than those in many other rural areas of Pakistan, the changing lifestyles here offer a glimpse into how quickly an area can start modernizing when fears of Islamist militants fade.

Even before the Taliban gained effective control over this area in 2007, the mountains that tower over this agricultural region served as a barrier to technology and social changes. But residents say that isolation is quickly being replaced with demand for new haircuts, music, movies and fashion styles.

“We now want to dress like the people of Punjab,” said Abid Ibrahim, 19, referring to the eastern province that includes Lahore, often referred to as Pakistan’s most progressive city. “We want to make ourselves look like models, and with the hairstyles from magazines like developed people.”

Ibrahim was at an amusement and gaming center called Motion Rider, which opened in Mingora in February. Life-size posters of a soldier in U.S. military combat gear and European soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo hang on the walls, and customers play Xbox games on big-screen televisions.

The main attraction is a 3-D movie theater where seats move in sync with the action on the screen. On a recent visit, patrons were watching “Into the Forest” — a psychedelic ride in which viewers dodge neon trees, bees, butterflies and giant mushrooms.

“Everyone had been very depressed, but now people just want to have fun,” said Syad Imad, 36, who owns Motion Rider.

Several new Pakistani clothing chains from major cities have also opened in the past year. One store sells women’s jeans, even though most women in Swat still wear a burqa or cover their faces with a headscarf when they appear in public.

Still, residents say the mere presence of women out shopping, unescorted by male relatives, is a sign of progress.

“I am very optimistic about the future of Swat,” said Iffat Nasir, an activist and school principal, who added female enrollment in school is steadily increasing. “I see Swat becoming a very modern place.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Iran recruits #Pakistan #Shia for combat in #Syria. via @Reuters

Iran's recruitment of the Pakistani fighters adds yet another international dimension to Syria's 4-year-old civil war, which has deepened sectarian divisions across the Muslim world and drawn in most regional and global powers.

The Pakistani Shi'ites are helping to defend the government of Tehran's ally, President Bashar al-Assad, who is also supported by Russian air strikes and fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, against an array of Sunni rebels backed by Turkey and Arab states. The United States, Turkey, Arab and European powers are also participating in a coalition bombing Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim militant group.

A Facebook page bearing the name of the Zeinabiyoun showed pictures of what was described as a funeral in Iran in late November, with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard standing next to men in shalwar kameez, the traditional long tunic and trousers worn in Pakistan.

"The Zeinabiyoun are a Pakistani Shi’ite outfit that’s run by the IRGC,” said Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland and adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has done extensive research on Shi’ite groups fighting in Syria, using an acronym to refer to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“They’ve put together their own imagery, their own recruitment type material. They really became more of a marketable element toward the end of the summer of 2015. That’s when they became more of a centered group.”