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Naveed_Bhuutto Monday, March 17, 2014 10:32 AM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Is Netanyahu Israel's 'Wolf in Wolf's Clothing'?

[I][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Netanyahu's speech at the UN General Assembly was a political impudence. He showed the world that he has not understood the signs of times. He seemed out of place with diplomacy and still caught up in aggressive rhetoric. He threatened Iran with an attack.[/COLOR][/I]

President Obama should be forewarned that the US would not help Israel in a war of aggression. The US should not accept any longer to be jerked around by a politically deranged leader of a tiny country.

The Israeli leadership freaked out when noticing a rapprochement between Iran and the US. Netanyahu seems not to have understood the writing on the wall. The American people are fed up with spilling their boys' blood for other countries' interests. In case of Iran, 85 per cent Americans favour diplomacy rather than war. It seems as if the belligerent American political class can only be stopped by massive public opinion, as the case of Syria has shown. Whether the Zionist lobby AIPAC can overturn antiwar opinion by financially supporting the US midterm elections remains to be seen.

Netanyahu showed a lack of political acumen when he dismissed the Rosh Hashanah greeting of Iran's newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani to the Jewish people. He accused him of being a “wolf in sheep's clothing” for his rant before the UN General Assembly. Netanyahu called Rouhani's predecessor even a “wolf in wolf's clothing”, forgetting that he himself behaves politically only slightly better. There are occasional diplomatic voices that reject Israel's destructive influence on the negotiations of the five veto powers and Germany with Iran.

For the last 20 years, Netanyahu's political fad has been to warn the world of Iran's fictive “atomic bomb”, which was alleged to be just around the corner. This bogus “Iranian threat”, however, is now widely recognized as a phantom. All the intelligence agencies know it. And even the Mossad knows that Iran's nuclear programme is not an existential threat to Israel, let alone to the US. So, why is Netanyahu still beating the drums of war? To keep the “phantom menace” alive serves a single purpose: Israel intends to maintain its hegemony over the entire Middle East and does not want to make real concessions to the Palestinians despite the ongoing secret “negotiations”. The Israeli security establishment fears that it would lose its maneuverability and the usefulness of its own deterrence should Iran acquire nuclear capability. A look at the facts shows who presents a danger to world peace.
Out of opportunism, the West does not believe statements by elected Iranian leaders, but believes every declaration made by Osama bin Laden or his phantom.
Israel is the fourth-strongest military power in the world. Armed to the teeth with 100 to 300 nuclear warheads, five submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and a significant biological and chemical weapons arsenal and led by an aggressive political leadership. Contrary to Israel, Iran has signed the NPT Treaty and its nuclear programme is under tight scrutiny of the IAEA. The country has also signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which Israel has only signed, not ratified. Since the Islamic revolution, Iran has rejected the production of nuclear and biological weapons on ethical and religious grounds. Out of opportunism, the West does not believe statements by elected Iranian leaders, but believes every declaration made by Osama bin Laden or his phantom. Even if Iran would develop a nuclear weapon, it could not use it because it would take years before they could weaponize it. The US alone has almost 8 000 nuclear warheads.

However, Iran has every reason to distrust the US and Israel. Both countries conduct cyber warfare through Stuxnet (a computer worm believed to have been created by the US and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities) against Iran. The US engages in direct and indirect economic warfare against the country and its citizens. The US and its Western allies have earlier provided poison gas to Saddam Hussein who used it against Iran during the war from 1980 to 1988. Iran cannot forget that the nations with no credible deterrent are liable to be invaded by the US as the cases of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and perhaps Syria if it surrenders its chemical weapons, show.

Netanyahu goes berserk due to his fear that Israel will be politically isolated should Iran and the US strike a deal. That's why he will order his Zionist cohorts in Capitol Hill to increase pressure on the US lawmakers and try to torpedo any such potential deal. Until now, he knows that corporate media is on Israel's side. Would Israel's attitude change if Iran would officially recognize Israel's right to exist? Iran has never questioned this right. Iran questioned Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land, including Jerusalem. Has the Israeli leadership forgotten that both countries collaborated very well during the Iraq-Iran war? And does it ignore that the largest Jewish community within the Islamic world lives well in Iran?

Israel's long term interests might be best served by stopping its belligerent rhetoric against Iran and by bringing its obedient US senators on Capitol Hill to walk the line.

Naveed_Bhuutto Monday, March 17, 2014 10:34 AM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]The Arms Trade Treaty 2013[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

[I][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]International Law of Trade or Disarmament?

Is the international law evolving itself or is it defying the very basic principles of law? Quintessentially, it's a product of agreements between the states and of the consistent conduct, which constitute the customary law. The list of its new subjects, however, is increasingly growing and is including non-state actors and multinational companies with global presence which haven't been party to what states agree and have nothing to do with customary law emanating out of consistent practice and acquiesce. The very element of consent that forms the sine qua non of pacta sunt servanda is ominously absent from the equation. With this inherent legal imperfection, the pace of international treaties is on the rise. From the International Criminal Court to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the subjects of international law are non-conventional. The principal purpose of the instant article is, however, not to examine the legal inadequacies of the Arms Trade Treaty, but to explore and analyze the policy and the content of the newly-introduced treaty.

[B]Salient Features of the Treaty[/B]
The ATT is not a very voluminous legal instrument; its salient features along with some analysis are outlined hereunder:

Before analyzing the Treaty itself, it's pertinent to put in a few words about the genus of the Treaty which is apparently a bit uncanny as it finds little support from the content of the Treaty and by the general legal framework of the UN. In this regard, the third recital of the preamble of the Treaty warrants careful reading as it links the Treaty to Article 26 of the Charter of the United Nations that establishes a textual relationship of the Treaty to the disarmament regime envisioned by the framers of the Charter.

This textual relationship is not very well founded as in the first place Article 26 of the UN Charter mandated the Security Council and not the comity of nations to oversee and envision disarmament.

Secondly, the linkage of the ATT with disarmament contradicts with the content of the Treaty, which is primarily designed to regulate trade of arms and is not a step in the direction of arms disarmament (by arms' destruction or diversion).

Thirdly, the legal consequence of the aforementioned two points is that the ATT be put in the province of 'trade and commercial treaties' rather than in the set of disarmament arrangements. In the instant case, the problem of modern international law, in which international executive authority vested in international organizations, upstages the will of international legislative authority exercised by plenipotentiaries on behalf of their respective states has become prominent because by classifying the ATT as a disarmament treaty and not a trade treaty, the legal consequences have been connected with international peace and security, not with development and globalization.

[B]2. Policy[/B]
On the policy side, the things are equally confusing. The disarmament's narrative in the international relations is not ideal. The UN Charter empowered the members of Security Council to do the disarmament. The members of the Security Council, however, chose to segregate between the non-conventional or weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) and conventional weapons. They then prioritized the non-conventional over the conventional weapons keeping in view their own interests. Besides, the very members (the US and erstwhile USSR) of the UN Security Council employed arms supply as a foreign policy objective in their respective foreign policies resulting in a disarmament campaign backed by state-interests rather than by any principles-based policy.

[B]3. Defining Conventional Weapons[/B]
The conventional weapons are as such not defined anywhere in the international law; they are better understood as all weapons other than non-conventional weapons i.e. nuclear, biological and chemical. Article 5(3) of the ATT, however, urges the states to apply it to the 'broadest range of conventional arms'. This expansive and inclusive approach of defining conventional arms is to be read with Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the ATT along with UN's 'Disarmament: A Basic Guide' (hereinafter the Guide).

Article 2 defines the scope of the ATT to include the following weapons:
(a) battle tanks,
(b) armoured combat vehicles,
(c) large caliber systems,
(d) combat aircraft,
(e) attack helicopters,
(f) warships,
(g) missiles and missile launchers, and
(h) small arms and light weapons.

Articles 3 and 4 include the ammunition and munitions of the weapons enumerated earlier and their parts and components. Some very fundamental and conceptual information on conventional weapons has been supplied by the Guide, which explains conventional weapons as those weapons which kill, injure or incapacitate 'through explosives, kinetic energy or incendiaries'. The Guide also explains the difference between the small arms and light weapons. According to it, the former can be used by one person whereas the latter is used by two or more persons. The purpose of explaining the whole gamut of conventional weapons is to underline the significance of the ATT, which will have potential to affect supply of armed forces' conventional capabilities whether the procurements are made on government-to-government basis (Foreign Military Sales) or through industry contracts (Direct Commercial Sales) mechanisms.

[B]4. Prohibitions[/B]
Three prohibitions have been mentioned in Article 6 of the ATT. The first prohibition links the trade of arms to arms embargoes duly processed by the UN Security Council. The second prohibition is related to illicit trafficking of arms while the third is wide and primarily covers the field of international humanitarian law (the conduct of war) and the modern international criminal law.

Interestingly, the three prohibitions are further linked to the international agreements entered into by the state parties; the prohibitions typically evince the case of fortification of one international law rule by another. The problem with this approach is that it makes international law a maze of layers which end up blocking each other and at the time of interpretation of the legal provisions, issues of sequencing and determining the intention of the states are to be dealt with.

[B]5. Encumbrances before Delivery[/B]
Article 7 of the ATT that deals with the export side of the arms articulates three-tiered encumbrances. The first encumbrance is related to an assessment, which is done on very wide and ambiguous grounds as the five listed grounds are too general and subjective to be applied. The grounds range from considerations of peace and security to human rights and terrorism.

The second encumbrance is that after the assessment, the exporting state should consider factoring in the mitigating measures to minimize any risk of abuse.
The third encumbrance is about formal authorization.

To top these encumbrances, on the basis of 'new information', the exporting state is authorized to reassess the authorization. The case of encumbrances is peculiar and interesting. The reason for this peculiarity is obvious: the trend of international arms trade is heavily in favour of developed countries, which supply arms to developing nations (e.g. the Grimmett Report published by Congress Research Service collects and collates the data on the trends in detail). Instead of considering any encumbrance at the time of receiving advance payments and supply orders (as is usually done in international commercial contracts) by the developed exporter states, the post-payment encumbrances have been incorporated in the ATT. The imbalance of rights and obligations goes without saying. In the present form, no wonder, many states (including Pakistan) have not signed the ATT.

[B]6. Entry into Force[/B]
The ATT has not yet entered into force. According to Article 22 of this Treaty, it will come into force after three months of the fiftieth ratification. The delayed effectuation provided some respite to countries not signing the ATT, however, the things started taking off after the signing of the ATT by the US on 25th September, 2013 and accordingly the states have started treating it more seriously.

[B]Concluding Remarks[/B]
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, once observed: “The world is over-armed and the peace is under-funded”. Unfortunately, this is true for the modern world, which is shaped by avarice and self-interest. The quest of powerful states to use international law as a tool to perpetuate their interests instead of serving any noble principles as contained in the UN Charter has turned international law into a liability rather than an asset in the international relations. The said trend, apparently, has been preserved and not reversed by the ATT.

[B]The author is an independent researcher and has done his BCL from the University of Oxford.
Kamran Adil[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Saturday, May 03, 2014 08:33 PM


[I][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]During my last visit to the US, I found from a 'trash yard sale' a book entitled “America's Stake in Asia” written in 1968 by Drew Middleton, a renowned foreign correspondent, first for Associated Press, and later for The New York Times who covered the World War II from D-Day to V-Day and several subsequent developments in Africa and Asia before returning to New York in 1965 to become The New York Times' Chief Correspondent at the United Nations.[/COLOR]

A chapter in his book entitled 'Pakistan: The Lost Friend' gave an incisive account of how Washington's total insensitivity to its close ally and partner Pakistan's legitimate security concerns vis-à-vis India had generated a sense of alienation among the people of Pakistan. While deploring Washington's nearsighted policies, Middleton presciently called Pakistan the “pattern” for Asian nations of the future, independent, tough and opportunistic. In his view, “Pakistan's geographical situation and a dozen other considerations make her virtually important to peace in the whole of Asia and the world at large.”

This old book on “America's Stake in Asia” may have ended up in trash, but Pakistan as a fiercely independent country has rarely disappeared for any length of time from America's strategic radar screen. No, Pakistan is not a lost friend. For more than sixty-five years now, it has loomed large in one form or another, either as a staunch ally, or a troublesome friend, or even a threat. Now, for the first time, it is all of these things. The war on terror may have provided the rationale for the ongoing unpalatable US 'engagement' with Pakistan, but this war neither limits the relationship's scope nor exhausts the challenges it faces.

It has indeed been a curious, if not enigmatic, relationship. It never had any conflict of interest, yet it also never developed a genuine mutuality of interests beyond self-serving expediencies with each side always aiming at different goals and objectives to be derived from their relationship which has been without a larger conceptual framework and a shared vision beyond each side's narrowly-based and vaguely-defined issue-specific priorities. For Pakistan, the issues of security and survival in a turbulent and hostile regional environment were the overriding policy factors in its relations with Washington. The US policy goals in Pakistan, on the other hand, have traditionally been rooted in its own regional and global interests.

Unfortunately, besides persistent trust deficit, in recent years, the two countries have had no control over the growing list of irritants some of which could have easily been avoided if both sides were guided by the concept of mutuality in their relationship. But let us be honest. The problem is not the relationship. The problem is its poor and shortsighted management on both sides. For Washington, it has remained an issue-specific, transactional relationship. They give us errands and we get paid.

Since our independence, Washington has been pumping money like hell into our coffers as compensation, not reward, for the assorted "errands" we have been running on its behalf, first in the Cold War, then in the Afghan-Soviet War, and lately as its non-NATO ally in the War on Terror. Since 2001 alone, it gave us more than $15 billion in addition to the annual aid package of $ 1.5 billion under the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 for five years with an appropriate “performance-based” military assistance. It has indeed given a lot of money to our self-serving rulers, but its dividends never reached the people.

Other than some palatial farmhouses in Chak Shahzad and elsewhere, there is not a single university or hospital built with US assistance anywhere in Pakistan. One has yet to see any visible people-specific projects on the ground in any part of this country that could be attributed to American assistance. Ironically, each “engagement” period in this relationship coincided with a military or military-controlled government in Pakistan and a Republican administration in Washington. Most of the "estrangement" phases of the US-Pakistan relationship saw a Democrat administration in Washington and a politically vulnerable elected government in Pakistan.

This tradition generated its own anti-Americanism in Pakistan with a perception that the US did not want democracy to take root in this country. Somehow, our people always found the US standing on the wrong side in the arena of our domestic power struggle. Our dictators, civilian or non-civilian, have always been Washington's blue-eyed boys. Under General Musharraf, Pakistan's post-9/11 alliance with the US was indeed the beginning of a painful chapter in Pakistan's history. In the blinking of an eye, we became a battleground of the US-led war on terror and have constantly been paying a heavy price in terms of human and material losses.

From being a major power in South Asia always equated with India, Pakistan today is bracketed with Afghanistan in terms of its outlook, role and relevance. We are seen both as the problem and the key to its solution. No wonder, we are also being treated both as a target and a partner while fighting a common enemy. It is time to correct this approach. The US-Pakistan relationship must not be all about any particular incident or an individual. It is an important equation and must be kept immune to isolated irritants. The objective on both sides must be not to weaken this relationship but to strengthen it by infusing in it greater political, economic and strategic content.

In his November 2007 address at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, then Senator and now Vice-President Joe Biden had publicly admitted that “beyond the current crisis lurks a far deeper problem in this relationship which is largely transactional and this transaction isn't working for either party.” From America's perspective,” according to him, “Pakistan despite receiving billions of dollars never delivered on combating the Taliban and Al Qaeda. From Pakistan's perspective,” he acknowledged, “America is an unreliable ally which for its own interests has only bolstered its corrupt rulers.”

Like Drew Middleton, Joe Biden also couldn't escape painful soul-searching to be able to sum up the hard reality of US-Pakistan relationship as Washington's yet another unlearnt lesson: “History may describe today's Pakistan as a repeat of 1979 Iran or 2001 Afghanistan. Or history may write a very different story: that of Pakistan as a stable, democratic, secular Muslim state. Which future unfolds will be strongly influenced -- if not determined -- by the actions of the United States.” He may be right but our tryst with destiny will be determined only by our own actions. We must restore our global image as a moderate, stable, self-respecting and responsible state, capable of living at peace with itself and with its neighbours.

What is important for us at this critical juncture is not what we are required to do for others' interests; it is what we ought to do to serve our own national interests. We need to regain our lost sovereign independence, our freedom of action and our national dignity and honour.

We must free ourselves of the forces of extremism, obscurantism, violence, militancy and intolerance. Our biggest challenge is to convert our pivotal location into an asset rather than a liability.

[B]The writer is a former foreign secretary.
Shamshad Ahmad [/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Wednesday, May 14, 2014 09:21 AM


[B][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]For over three decades, Iran and the US have been blood enemies. Their hatred, like the hatred between the Palestinians and the Israelis, has framed the Middle East's alliances and fuelled terror and war.[/COLOR][/B]

Though the interim deal over Iran's nuclear programme has not undone that, yet it offers a glimpse of a different, better Middle East. This deal can transform the world's most troubled region. It is a vision worth striving for!.

The government in Riyadh is quite conservative in its policies and is not known for overreacting to Arab and international matters, preferring to deliberate and exercise self-control before taking a position. We used to have to wait three days for Saudi Arabia to announce its stance on almost any issue so one may be astonished at the decisions to boycott the UN and its institutions. This is the first time in the history of the UN that any country has taken such a harsh stand.
Saudi Arabia's position against the UN sends a clearly angry message to the US, first and foremost, and to Russia after their agreement to remove chemical weapons from Syria. That stopped or postponed an American-led military strike against the Syrian regime, after it was accused of using the weapons against its own people.

The Saudis have become the main supporters of the armed opposition in Syria and they feel that the Obama administration, normally an ally, has let them down twice; first, when it released President Bashar Al-Assad from his international isolation through the aforementioned agreement, and second when it moved closer to Iran, Assad's, financially and militarily, main supporter. The lines of communication with Iran were reopened without prior consultation with Saudi Arabia; Riyadh found out about the thawing relationship through the news, like any other government.

Although it is true that the Saudi foreign ministry's statement justified the rejection of the Security Council seat on the grounds of its double standards and other failures as noted above, it is also true that such double standards have existed since the UN's establishment, so what is new? Essentially, what's new is the fact that the US backed down from striking Syria. If the UN Security Council had issued a decision against Syria in accordance with Article 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the use of force, then Saudi Arabia would have accepted the seat and would even have regarded it as a great achievement.

If this bold position was taken by Saudi Arabia 3 years ago before the Syrian war ignited, it would have exposed and shamed the proponents of these double standards more effectively and received more attention within Arab and Islamic circles. However, since it was a reaction to America's disappointing position on Syria and Iran, its strength and significance has been diminished.

The question now is whether the Saudi leadership will keep up its “hawkish” position in regards to the Palestinian conflict, as negotiations are faltering, Israeli settlements are expanding and the divide between Hamas and the Palestinian Authorities in Ramallah is widening. Will it look at Israel's possession of nuclear weapons and Iran's nuclear programme in the same light? Will it insist on removing all weapons of mass destruction from the region, with no exceptions, or is Saudi's current position a temporary blip due to its anger at America?
The West needs to accept that Iran must be at the table in the peace talks due in Geneva. If anybody can bully Mr Assad to offer concessions, it is Mr Rohani.
With its financial, political and religious clout, as well as its international relationships, Saudi Arabia is capable of being a key player in all of these urgent portfolios which have been in the hands of the UN for years; it does not have to limit itself to the Syrian file. However, Syria has become Saudis' obsession in the context of its open struggle with Iran over influence and leadership in the region; the government in Tehran is regarded as the main enemy of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Riyadh has spent over $5 billion so far to fund and arm the Syrian resistance, similar to what it spent in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. It has also put its man, Ahmed Al-Jarba, at the head of the Syrian National Coalition and established its loyal Islam Army to fight alongside the resistance.

Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia's boycott of the UN and its institutions, despite its legitimacy and justifications, is not the best way forward. Many analysts believe that Saudi Arabia must have a strong presence in the UN and use its institutions and platforms to defend Arab and Islamic issues and confront American and Israeli domination. Keeping away leaves the field free for pro-Israel resolutions which serve the expansion of illegal settlements and policies leading to the demolition of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Solving the Syrian and Palestinian conflicts and making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone will not only benefit Saudi Arabia but also attract support from many Third - World countries for whom these are important issues. The Saudis should rethink their position.

[B]Courtesy: Middle East Monitor
JWT Desk[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Sunday, March 08, 2015 02:54 PM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]War Against ISIS[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

[I][CENTER]Ideological Aspect & Possible Long-term Outcomes.[/CENTER][/I]

There is no denying the fact that any innocent life lost is certainly a life too many, and coalition forces should undergo every effort possible to avoid civilian casualties. However, we should not forget that if anyone is guilty of murdering civilians, raping women and terrorizing children, it certainly would be ISIS, not the coalition forces.

We should never forget that we are facing a terrorist group that takes pride in slaughtering journalists and humanitarian workers in front of TV cameras so that the whole world may watch.

Speaking of ideology, we should also remember that we are not facing a group of peace-loving monks who are advocating love and harmony but rather a bunch of hateful thugs who are using tanks, missile-launchers and bombs to invade cities and establish an extremist state — in the name of religion.
Frankly, inaction against the likes of the ISIS would certainly equate to a crime against humanity and global stability as well as a crime against any hope of bringing peace, moderation and prosperity to the Middle East.

As such, no one could argue against bombing ISIS's military capabilities, as this would certainly lessen this group's ability to continue doing harm and gaining more ground and resources. After all, we shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that these power-hungry criminals would voluntarily denounce violence, just because someone asks them to do so nicely!

On the other hand, nobody is arguing that this war can only be won by military means, obviously an ideological battle should be waged in parallel to discredit and hinder ISIS's upper hand in spreading their propaganda.

The key question here is: how can we achieve this? The answer probably lies in a multi-layered, combined and coordinated effort of local, regional and international leaders, media outlets and religious figures.

Equally important is having a serious discussion with the major social media outlets about their content guidelines. At present, there is a universal consensus when it comes to what is defined as pornographic material but, regrettably, there is no consensus on what is considered the terrorist propaganda. One only has to skim through Twitter feeds or Facebook pages of ISIS-like groups or members to see pictures of decapitation and outright calls for committing crimes. This simply can no longer be tolerated and a solution must be found as soon as possible so that further harm is done.

Now, we should also remember that to fully defeat ISIS we must also deal with the climate which enabled them to exist. The defeat of ISIS in Iraq should be followed by the resolution of the political issues that created the space in which this group thrived. ISIS's seizure of Mosul in June and its swift advance across a wide swathe of Iraqi territory was a direct result of contemporary flaws within the political system set up after the 2003 regime change.

Similarly, one could argue the same for Syria. For if it wasn't for the international community's failure to deal with the Assad regime's massacres, the ISIS wouldn't have become the monster as it is today. Of course, the Assad regime helped and benefited from the creation of this monster in its bid to position itself as the only viable, secular and safe solution in Syria.

However, there seem to be some positive signs that the world has finally come to realize that both the problem and solution lie in Damascus. But, it's impossible to build a strong central government without toppling Assad first. However, this will not work without the consent of his allies, Iran and Russia.

The dot points below summarize the possible long-term outcomes of the battle against ISIS in Iraq.

1. Long-term decline and death of ISIS is certain. All the important regional powers — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia — have signed up to strike ISIS. Iranian military is also fighting ISIS. This broad network of regional powers means its long-term military defeat and political decline is certain.

2. An inclusive Iraqi government is inevitable. The aim is to weaken the Iraqi Sunni political support for ISIS insurgency. With a new leadership team headed by Prime Minister Heidar Al-Abadi running the Iraqi Government, diplomatic efforts of the Obama Administration have been productive in this area.

3. Defeating an insurgency from the air alone is not possible. Therefore, a reinvigorated Iraqi army must be an essential component of the fight against ISIS. Iraqi Prime Minister has shown commitment to reinvigorate the Iraqi Army. Western military advisors, air power and expanded intelligence work will also be playing an important role in the achievement of long-term security results on the ground.

4. The Peshmarga forces of Kurdistan Regional Government will play an important role by supplementing the ground offensives of the Iraqi Army. The Obama Administration and France have been supplying the Peshmarga with military hardware to shore up their fighting strength. For maximum operational effect the Peshmarga and Iraqi Army will need to coordinate their offensive battles against ISIS.

5. Expanding military strength of the Kurdish Peshmarga is not ideal for Baghdad or Washington because due to its upgraded military muscle a more assertive Kurdish Regional Government will emerge after the fight against ISIS is over. If unchecked by Washington or Baghdad, this assertiveness will in the long run accelerate the Iraqi Kurdish independence goals. The economic infrastructure and resources the Peshmarga will capture from ISIS will only make this prospect far more robust.

6. For security gains in Iraq to be durable, the Iraqi Government and Kurdish Peshmarga will have to permanently hold the territory they capture from ISIS, especially after the Western air campaign stops. For this to happen, the Iraqi Army will need to successfully transform itself into a coherent fighting machine.
7. The Iraqi government will have to consolidate its military gains in the areas it has captured by providing essential services to the population centres.

8. Strength of Iraqi governance in captured areas will be an important indicator of its ability to hold the territory for the long term. Unless Baghdad provides clean, efficient, honest, secure and inclusive governance to the population centres it has captured, its consolidation of those areas will be simply incomplete.
9. Then the Iraqi army can attack the next ISIS stronghold and repeat the consolidation process there. The bulk of fighting on the grounds needs to be done by the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmarga.

10. To capture and consolidate all of Iraqi ground under ISIS control the Iraqi government will need more money and resources than it has at its disposal. The extra resources can come from two sources: (1) aid package from the western and regional powers to Iraq; (2) the Iraqi government extracts more oil from the ground.

11. Even after removal of ISIS in Iraq, the government shall remain fragile and vulnerable. In political terms that means there will be no perfect system of government for Iraq, no perfect long-term political stability.

12. After the campaign against ISIS, the most optimist scenario the regional and western powers can hope for is an inherently imperfect and fragile Iraq will emerge in the end that can hold itself together economically, militarily and can remain politically united.

13. Due to the long-term political vulnerability, even after complete removal of ISIS in Iraq stable regional powers will have a strong degree of influence over the government and fate of the country.

The degree of influence each regional player will enjoy will be directly proportional to how much resources they are willing to commit to supporting their interests in the country.

To conclude, critics of the coalition may see military action as a threat and may think that it will only intensify the problem. However, such critics seem to be ignoring that it was the inaction towards the atrocities in Syria and the failed state in Iraq that resulted in the swelling of ISIS's ranks from a few hundred to nearly 30,000 according to the latest estimates. We should see the coalition's efforts as a golden opportunity to rid the region of extremism, terrorism and injustice once and for all. However, for this to be achieved, it should include both Sunni and Shiite sects so that faith is restored in the world order.

[B]Waqas Iqbal[/B]

someone Wednesday, April 27, 2016 05:21 PM

NATO logistics in the Afghan War refers to the efforts of the NATO International Security Assistance Force to deliver vital fuel, food, hardware and other logistic supplies to Afghanistan in support of the War in Afghanistan (2001-present). Delivery of supplies is done using a combination of air transport and a series of overland supply routes. There are two routes which pass through Pakistan, and several other routes which pass through Russia and the Central Asian states. Following the 2011 NATO attack in Pakistan, the Pakistan routes were closed, but reopened after US Secretary of State apologized for the incident on July 3, 2012.

Maheen Chaudhry Thursday, September 07, 2017 11:16 PM

[SIZE="5"][B]US, Hezbollah & Assad[/B][/SIZE]

[COLOR="Blue"]The ‘love affair’ gets more entangled than ever

The mayhem continues. Ceasefire appears to be a forlorn dream. Russia and Turkey might have done their part, but thanks to Mr. Trump, the situation in Syria seems set for a topsy-turvy ride, again. The grandeur effect of the Tomahawks didn’t subside yet, and the US decided to strike again. On May 18, Trump launched strikes against the pro-Assad forces. The event could well turn out to be significant in ways I’ll resort to a bit later.

Jordan and Iraq were in the news because the attack was carried in al-Tanf, located in close proximity of Jordanian and Iraqi borders. So, what’s the Iranian connection, then? Well, here it goes: After the attack, an Iranian news agency reported that 3,000 Hezbollah combatants were being sent to al-Tanf. The motive, although easily decipherable, as announced was to back the Syrian army and gain advantage in the ‘all too complicated’ battle against the US. If this were to be the case in the days to come, then one thing is sure: US might become too eager to militarily engage the Islamic Republic of Iran.

If POTUS (President of the United States) does end up going down that path, Hassan Rouhani, who was reelected as the President of Iran in May 19 election, might have to do ‘too much’ to de-escalate. Without delving deep into the world of proxies, and who is currently supporting who (which requires a separate sitting, of course), I must reiterate that Hezbollah fighters fighting alongside the Syrian Army might complicate the things even more. Although, yes, Trump might be tipped to shoot from the hip every time he speaks about Iran, yet de-escalation requires all the stakeholders to be on board.

Whether one agrees or not, Iran does have a fair bit of regional clout – and, it might not shy away from exercising that, either. If the United States and its allies were left to fend against Hezbollah in Syria, the tensions between Iran and the US might escalate. But, with Russia backing Iran and Assad, the decision makers in the White House might not find it in their best interest to bring the country tantalizingly close to being at war with Iran.

Is it all about Syria? If it were to be, it just can’t get more delusional than that. Trump has all the major Sunni players from the Middle East on his side. And, the furious statements that came from Riyadh against Iran just recently, somehow, sum up the situation perfectly. It’s logical as well as natural at the same time that Iran might feel insecure, particularly, after Trump’s viit to Saudi Arabia. The visit, sans Trump’s lecture on Islam, will make Iran jittery – no doubt about it. For the rest of the Muslim world, Trump lecturing on Islam is as enigmatic as it gets. Perhaps, the earlier Republicans, particularly George W. Bush, weren’t as creative as the current President of the United States is.

Now I would get back to what I was referring to earlier. Why the US attack in al-Tanf can become more significant than actually conceived? The foremost reason is the prevailing state of affairs in the Middle East. The region has been teetering for years now, and one conflict after another seems to have made the path to normalization more horrifying than ever. From al-Qaeda to ISIS, the region has experienced turmoil beyond comprehension. And, with the recent up-shift in extremism, the latest attack in Syria might be a deathblow to the idea of de-escalation, which, of course, shouldn’t be. But, as they often say, facts must strictly be differentiated from fantasy.

Coming back to the Assad, Iran and the US connection. Even if Trump and his military advisors find it tempting enough to flex the muscles and engage Iran militarily, the prospect of agonizing Putin would be too much to handle. Remember the Trump-Putin bonhomie? What the President of the United States is doing wrong here is to view Iran from a religious standpoint – a religion (or a version of it) Trump doesn’t enjoy much affinity with, anyway. Even if there are differences with Iran, those should be dealt with fro a purely geopolitical narrative.

As per the Syrian conflict, there’s too much of a mess that needs cleaning up. Although it might not be popular and sellable, ousting Assad wouldn’t do much of a good. It, nonetheless, would aggravate the already chaotic situation. The least Syria needs is to have an extremist organization fill in the void created after Assad’s forced removal. Iraq might serve as an excellent case study, folks. May sanity prevail!

[B]Shazar Shafqat[/B]

Maheen Chaudhry Saturday, September 09, 2017 09:36 PM

[CENTER][COLOR="Blue"]Islam offers the ultimate solution to all our woes[/COLOR][/CENTER]

Islam as a dynamic and universal religion prescribes guidelines for achieving success in every sphere of life; whether it is the social aspect or moral or spiritual or even the economic one. By strictly adhering to these guidelines, all our woes of humanity can be eliminated. The economic system of Islam guarantees welfare and wellbeing of the whole mankind. The system of Zakat goes a long way in alleviation of poverty as it ensures circulation of wealth and its flow from the rich to the poor. Prohibition of all kinds of interest (usury) eliminates financial exploitation of the poor.

Besides these major guidelines, there are other economic principles of Islam pertaining to our daily lives. One such basic principle is that a Muslim should not amass health by hook or by crook. He is required to earn his livelihood through legitimate (Halal) means. All unlawful (Haram) methods of earning money like bribery, profiteering, hoarding, adulteration, cheating, drug trafficking, land grabbing and gambling, etc. are prohibited. Allah Almighty says in verse No. 29 of Surah An-Nisa:
[I]“O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly…”[/I]

In this regard, the first responsibility falls on the shoulders of rulers and the civil servants. They are required to desist from all kinds of financial corruption and embezzlement because they are taken as role models by the general public. Then, it is incumbent upon them to draw up and implement policies to eradicate corruption from the society. Only those having impeccable integrity can bring about positive effects on society.

Like all other spheres of life, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is the ultimate role model for us in this sphere as well. Even prior to announcing his prophet-hood, he (PBUH) was famous in the Arab society as Sadiq (Truthful) and Ameen (Trustworthy). Such was his character that when he launched the message of Islam for the first time, he spoke from Mount Saffa to his people nd said, “O people! Will you believe me if I say there is an army marching behind this mountain which is about to attack you?” All of them answered in affirmative.

As the trade agent of Hazrat Khadija (RA), the Holy Prophet (PBUH) exhibited unmatchable honesty and integrity. She (RA) was hugely impressed with his fairness in dealings – it was also a cause behind the marital knot between them.

Following the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the four Orthodox Caliphs set great examples of honesty, integrity and accountability. They neither built royal palaces nor did they assemble armies of servants and guards around them. While living in their mud-houses, they were easily accessible to the public. They drew but only meager amounts from the state exchequer as their salaries which were hardly enough to make both ends meet. They were always ready to give account of each penny spent from public account. The second caliph of Islam Hazrat Umar (RA), who gave enormous expansion to Muslim empire, used to say, “A person is not known on account of his worship but on account of his dealings.”

The Orthodox Caliphs took the system of accountability to zenith. They were always ready to present themselves befor the court and general public for every act they had done. The fourth caliph of Islam Hazrat Ali (RA), while he was the sitting head of the Islamic state, filed a suit against a Jew in acourt of law regarding the custody of armour that belonged to him. But, the judge, named Shuraih, decide the case against him.

So, according to the teachings of Islam, the rulers have double responsibility. First, like common Muslims, they are answerable to Allah Almighty for all their deeds. Secondly, unlike ordinary people, they are also accountable to general public and can be impeached if they are found to be corrupt and unjust.

In order to ensure transparency in public affairs eschewing the curse of bribery is imperative. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, [I]“The one who gives bribe and the one who receives it will both go to hell.”[/I]

Similarly, it is incumbent upon all government officials to exercise prudence in spending public money. Para-10 of GFR (General Financial Rules) also elaborates the same thing. The government officials are the custodians, not owners, of public oney and Islamic teachings strictly prohibit them from spending it unnecessarily.

The ordinary Muslims are also required to refrain from corrupt practices in their daily lives. One cardinal guideline in this regard is to weigh with justice. In the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty has repeatedly cursed those who weigh less. In Surah Al-Mutaffifin, Allah Almighty says, “[I]Woe to Al-Mutaffifin[/I] (those who give less in measure & weight).” According to Ibne Majah, when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) migrated from Makkah to Madina, the people of Madina were not just in weighing. The Holy Prophet (PBUH0 strictly prohibited them from doing that, and ordered them to mend their ways. In another tradition of Ibne Majah, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, [I]“Allah Almighty send wrath in the shape of drought, hard labour and tyrannies of rulers upon those people who are unjust in weighing.”[/I]

The people of Prophet Shoaib (AS) were destroyed for not weighing justly and for committing highway robberies. They received the wrath of Allah in the form of sizzling heat, earthquake and shrill cry. Their incidents have been elaborated in Surahs Al-Aaraf and Ash-Shoara.

Another serious kind of corruption is theft. Islam has prescribed serious punishment for it and has included it in Hudood. In the Holy Quran, subject to the completion of requirements needed for imposition of Hudood, the punishment for this crime is the amputation of hand from wrist. Once, a lady belonging to an influential family of Quraish was nabbed fro committing theft. The members of her family approached the Holy Prophet (PBUH) for reprieve. But, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave them a historic answer that is the essence of justice. He said, [I]“Even if my own daughter Fatima (RA) had committed theft, I would have issued Hadd. The nations before you were destroyed on the account that they were not having uniform standards of justice.”[/I]

Another serious form of financial corruption in our society is land-grabbing, illegal allotment of land, forceful occupation of land, china-cutting and tampering in revenue records. These acts are strongly prohibited in Islam and their severity can be judged from the tradition of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), in which he said, [I]“Whoever usurps the land of somebody unjustly; his neck will be encircled with seven earths on the Day of Resurrection” [/I](Sahih Bukhari). Islam also abhors and prescribes other corrupt practices. About adulteration, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, [I]“Who adulterates is not from amongst us.”[/I]

A serious problem nowadays is that we fail to differentiate between lawful and unlawful means of income. This is the root cause of many evils present in our society. Illegitimate means of income have not only crept into our society but those who practice them try to legitimize them. Owing to it, our society is on the verge of economic and moral collapse and our prayers and supplications are turned down by Allah Almighty because there is saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in Sahih Muslim, [I]“Allah Almighty neither accepts charity nor supplication of one ho earns his/her livelihood through illegal means”.[/I]

It is ironic that though we claim to be the followers of Islam, our country doesn’t have satisfactory rankings in the list of honest countries. In a country where majority of people are poor, scams of corruption of billions of rupees are sadly rampant. Our political leaders not only accuse each other of massive corruption but a large number of them have often gone scot-free in corruption cases. The need of time is to plug loopholes in our administrative, investigative and legal systems for giving exemplary punishments to corrupt elements. That would deter others from indulging in corrupt practices. Sans an effective mechanism of accountability, elimination of corruption would remain a far cry. The rising levels of corruption in our society are reminiscent of great scholar George Bernard Shaw’s words: “Islam is the best religion and Muslims are the worst followers”.

“O ye who believe! Do not consume each other’s wealth unjustly, but only in lawful business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves, nor kill one another. Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.” The Quran 04:29

[B]Atta-ur-Rehman Khilji[/B]
[B]Email: [email]aatayaseen@yahoo.com[/email][/B]
[B]Published in JWT July 2017

01:55 PM (GMT +5)

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