Saturday, April 8, 2017

US Missile Strikes in Syria; US Mediation in India-Pakistan Dispute; Bannon’s Future

Did Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad really use chemical weapons against his own people? Are US Missile Strikes on Syrian Shayrat airbase justified? Why did Russian President Vladimir Putin stand by and watch his Syrian ally punished by US missile strikes? What is President Trump’s strategy in Syria beyond these limited strikes? How will the Trump Administration deal with ISIS in Syria? How will Russia and Iran react to further US involvement against their ally Assad?

What did United States’ UN Ambassador Nikki Haley say about the Trump administration mediating between India and Pakistan? Why did India immediately reject it? Where will this initiative go from here? How will Lisa Curtis’s appointment as South Asia director of US National Security Council impact President Trump’s policy in South Asia given that she co-wrote a paper with Husain Haqqani that is highly critical of Pakistan? Would President Trump's Pakistan policy be better or worse or the same as President Obama's?

Why has President Trump’s close aide Steve Bannon been bumped from the US National Security Council headed by General HR McMaster? Is there any truth in rumors of Bannon’s clash with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner? Is Bannon about to be completely eased out of the White House? How will such an exit change the White House?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with regular panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump Administration's Policy Toward Muslims, India and Pakistan

Is Husain Haqqani Advising Trump?

Obama's Parting Shot Against Pakistan

Does the US Share Responsibility For the Rise of ISIS?

Impact of Trump Appointment on US Domestic and Foreign Policy

Iran-Saudi Conflict

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel


Anonymous said...

World is not at all bothered about indo pak dispute for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Whoever commented the above is the truth. The international community's priority number one is Syria war, priority number no. 2 is robably east Ukraine and Yemen war, priority number 3 is tackling ISIS Al Qaeda terrorism....Israeli Palestinian issue, Somalia, Nigeria boko haram, North Korea vs South Korea Japan tensions, south china island disputes.
Kashmir issue does make a headline once in a while. It's pretty clear no one really cares about resolving this dispute. India and Pakistan will have to be contend with the territory they have. I think each should respect the LOC and develop the areas under their respective controls.

Riaz Haq said...

Strategic Insights : Is #Pakistan close to a #nuclear deal with the #US?: #India … via @TOIOpinion

Many signs portend yes. In the waning days of the Obama administration, talk grew in Washington, D.C. of the US offering the same nuclear deal to Pakistan as it had offered India. The White House never seemed to categorically deny those rumours.

Pakistan has always held the keys to Kabul, and has played its cards expertly. The seeming about-face against the Taliban post 9-11; the double game played with the Americans, one foot in their camp, the other planted firmly in the Afghani Talibani; all of this has led to the Taliban coming to the cusp of capturing Kabul, with the Yanks receiving the same hiding that the Russkies and the Pommies haven’t as yet forgotten.


But how can one secure against a security guard who turns turtle. The Yanks must have their own folks in the Strategic Plains Division and other centralized Pakistani nuclear establishments. After all, a hundred million can pay for a lot of outsized American salaries. But the Pakistanis have pulled a fast one with the deployment of their tactical nukes, the little Nasrs.
No Yank can control their use, for the operational control lies with about 300 Pakistani military field commanders. One goes rogue and a dirty bomb could go off in Indianapolis in short order. No wonder Nikki Haley, a key member of Trump’s foreign policy team, is now crying herself hoarse to mediate between Pakistan and India. Her express aim: Islamabad, you ditch your tacticals, India you yours. Washington’s interest must always be protected.
Pakistan is happy with the mediation. But not happy enough. It has left the Americans out of talks with the Afghan Taliban, cozying up instead to the Chinese and the Russkies. What is the Russian interest in Kabul? They are not even contiguous with Afghanistan any more. And the Chinese? Well, wherever the Pakistanis are, can the Chinese be far behind. And not even a leaf can fall anywhere in Asia now without the assent of the Chinese.
America is alarmed. Ever the brinkman, Pakistan is up to its old tricks. One overriding purpose drives it: Treat us as India’s equal. Memo from Islamabad to Washington: We know you are screwed in Afghanistan. We will get you out safely as long as we get the same nuclear deal as India has got.
The Yanks seem to have got the message. Pakistani nuclear delegations visit Washington regularly now. One is there right now meeting with American experts. Nikki Haley was perhaps just the portend of things to come. Any day, you might have an announcement of a nuclear deal for Pakistan.
Poor India. What has it been doing all this while. It has alienated the Russkies so much that they are now selling arms to Islamabad for the first time ever. Has India’s foreign policy establishment been sleeping at the wheel? Or will they be able to pull a rabbit out of their hat? The plot thickens.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump admin requests #US #Congress for $743 million in #aid to #Pakistan for FY2017, up from $662 million last year

PRESIDENT DONALD Trump’s administration has put in place a modest enhancement of military and civilian aid to Pakistan — the first reversal of a uninterrupted five-year decline — for the 2017 financial year, requisitioning $743 million, against a post 9/11 low of $662 million in 2016, according to figures released by the authoritative Congressional Research Service on Friday.
Aid to the civilian sector makes up the larger part of the increase, rising from $352 million last year to $423. Of that $400 million is made up of the Economic Support Fund, a programme the State Department says is meant to encourage countries facing terrorism to join “the community of well-governed states that act responsibly in the international system”.
However, military assistance has also increased marginally, from $310 million to $320 million. The figures do not include Coalition Support Funds, or CSF-reimbursements made for logistical and operational support of US troops in theatres like Afghanistan.
In 2017, the National Defence Authorisation Act allows the US to pay Pakistan up to $1.1 billion in CSF, of which $400 million is subject to the condition that it has taken action against the Taliban-linked network of Sirajuddin Haqqani. In 2015, the US paid $550 million in CSF to Pakistan.
Aid to Pakistan declined sharply since 2011, reflecting a downturn in relations, when the country received $2.463 billion in aid. In 2012, the total fell to $1.916 billion, and further to $1.195 billion in 2013, before dipping to $979 million in 2014.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump Administration Proposes to Cut #CSF for #Pakistan by $100 Million to $800 Million for FY18. … via @ndtv

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has proposed to give Pakistan US $800 million as reimbursement for its military and logistical support in counter-terrorism operations in the next fiscal, a defence department official has said.

The administration has proposed the amount - a cut of US $100 million compared to the previous time - in its annual budget proposals under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a Pentagon programme to reimburse US allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations.

Pakistan is one of the largest recipient under the fund and has received US $14 billion since 2002. But for the past two years, the US Congress has imposed conditions on disbursal of money under the fund.

"The FY 2018 budget proposal seeks US $800 million in CSF for Pakistan. The CSF authority is not security assistance, but reimbursements to key cooperating nations for logistical, military, and other support provided to US combat operations," Adam Stump, Defence Department spokesman for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia told news agency PTI yesterday.

For 2016 fiscal year, Pakistan was authorised to receive up to US $900 million under CSF.

"The deputy secretary of defence signed the authorisation to disburse US $550 million in fiscal year 2016 coalition support fund to Pakistan for logistical, military, and other support provided to the US operations in Afghanistan for the period of January-June 2015," Mr Stump said.

"The Department recognises the significant sacrifices the Pakistan military has made in the fight against terrorism, and appreciates Pakistan's continued support for transit of materiel to coalition forces in Afghanistan," he said in response to a question

"Disbursement of the remaining US $350 million requires the Secretary of Defence to certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network. The Secretary has not yet made a decision on certification," Mr Stump said.

For the first time in 2016, then Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter had declined to certify that Pakistan met the certification requirement, resulting in the loss of US $300 million fund for it. This amount was reprogrammed by the Pentagon for Department of Defence's Overseas Contingency Operations Funding, a second defence department official said.

In its latest budget, the Department of Defence has attached no conditions for disbursement of CSF to Pakistan. However, it was only the US Congress which imposes such strict conditions on giving CSF money to Pakistan.

Justifying the need to give such a huge amount of money to Pakistan, the Pentagon said Pakistan has served as a key ally in operation 'Enduring Freedom' since 2001 and will continue to play a key role in maintaining stability in the region.

"Pakistan's security forces regularly engage enemy forces, arrest and kill Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, and provide significant support to US forces operating in Afghanistan. Pakistan continues to meet the enemy insurgency and has made enormous sacrifices in support of these operations," it said.

"The expenses Pakistan incurs to conduct operations against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces include providing logistical support for its forces, manning observation posts along the Afghanistan border, and conducting maritime interdiction operations and combat air patrol," the Pentagon said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump disbands #Afghanistan-#Pakistan unit in #StateDepartment.Eliminates #AfPak special rep position via @politico

The Trump administration on Friday moved to eliminate the State Department unit responsible for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan — transferring its duties to a regional bureau whose leadership ranks have been decimated, two sources told POLITICO.

The development came with less than a day’s notice. It deeply rattled U.S. officials who say the shift leaves unclear who is responsible for handling diplomacy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan at a time when the Trump administration is considering ramping up military efforts in that region.

The phase-out of the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) was put in motion under the Obama administration. But diplomats are concerned that the Trump administration has yet to name people to lead the South and Central Asia Bureau, leaving a leadership vacuum. That State Department bureau has seen unusually high levels of senior staff departures since Trump's inauguration in January.

“The Afghanistan and Pakistan function is being dissolved and transferred into a structure that has been dissolved itself,” a U.S. diplomat familiar with the issue told POLITICO. “We’ve long planned for SRAP to go away, but the intention was for the policy to be transferred responsibly. This happened on less than 24 hours notice.”

The State Department press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.