Stop NATO News: December 17, 2011

17 December 2011 — Stop NATO

  • Pentagon Commends Turkey For NATO Radar Site
  • Turkey: U.S. NATO Ally On Missiles, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Kurds
  • Pentagon Appoints Turkey To Police Iraq, Confront Iran
  • Turkey’s Top Military Council Prepares For War
  • Iraq: Fallujah Celebrates U.S. Troop Exit, Honors The Slain
  • U.S. Rallies NATO Support For Georgia’s Accession
  • Georgia Hosts Meeting Of NATO Centers In Former Soviet States
  • Georgia Increases Troop Strength For NATO’s Afghan War
  • Pakistan: Squeezed NATO Supply Line Runs Dry
  • Belgium: NATO Conducts 29-Nation Cyber Warfare Exercise
  • Chicago: Protesters Cry Foul Over NATO, G8 Restrictions
  • Afghanistan: NATO’s Iron Man Versus Frankenstein’s Militarized Monster

Pentagon Commends Turkey For NATO Radar Site

http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/17/62381013.html

Itar-Tass
December 16, 2011

US thanks Turkey

U.S. to thank Turkey for agreeing to place U.S. defense radar elements on its territory, said the Pentagon chief Leon Panneta during his visit to Ankara.

In meetings with President Abdullah Gul and Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz he called Turkey a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

In September Ankara authorized the deployment of missile defenses 700 kilometers from the border with Iran.

The radar will be commissioned before the end of the year. Data from it will go into command centers in the United States and U.S. warships in the Mediterranean.

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Turkey: U.S. NATO Ally On Missiles, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Kurds

http://en.trend.az/regions/world/usa/1970190.html

Trend News Agency
December 16, 2011

US Defense Secretary blasts Iran for threatening Turkey

-US-deployed Predator drones at ?ncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey are being used as part of Turkey’s fight against the…Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Two of the four Predators drones deployed on Nov. 14 at ?ncirlik Air Base made their first test flights in Adana. The lift-off operation was carried out by the American staff of the Ground Control Unit at the base. The Predators were controlled during the whole flight by a center based in the US state of Nevada. Images of the flight will be delivered to US military quarters in Ankara after initially being sent to the US.
Panetta said the US has obtained permission to fly these drones over Iraqi airspace.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has brushed off criticism leveled against Turkey by Iran because of the former’s decision to host part of NATO’s missile-shield system on its soil, saying ‘whether they like it or not, other countries are going to have to accept that [missile shield]‘, Today’s Zaman reported

Speaking to a group of reporters in Ankara on Friday, Panetta said he commended the Turkish government’s decision to host part of the missile shield…

There has been a wave of criticisms leveled against Turkey by Iranian officials in recent months, and the Turkish government has been under fire by opposition parties for remaining silent.

Hussein Ibrahim, the vice president of the Iranian parliamentary national security and foreign policy panel, suggested that ‘it is Iran’s natural right to target the missile-defense shield system in Turkey in case of an attack, and we will definitely resort to that,’ in an interview on Sunday with the Iranian daily Shargh.

Ibrahim’s words were similar to those of other Iranian officials before him, and hinted to Ankara that annoyance with the new NATO project is widespread among Iranian politicians, although the Iranian foreign ministry has refrained from backing the threats. Shortly before Ibrahim’s comments, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division, explicitly uttered a threat that the NATO radar system, which is planned for deployment in the eastern province of Malatya, would be ‘the first target’ to be taken down should Iran ever be attacked, and the country would move on to their next targets only after that.

Panetta also urged Turkey to mend fences with Israel at a time when a lot of changes are happening in the region. ‘It is important for both countries to do what they can. They had strong ties in the past,’ he said, encouraging both countries to work together in confronting challenges in the region.

Panetta also argued that there is close cooperation between the US and Turkey on the latter’s decade-long fight with the…Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and expressed the US’s solidarity in its fight against the PKK…’We provide some technology and assistance in the fight against the PKK. We try to improve in that capacity and continue to explore other steps,’ underscored Panetta.

US-deployed Predator drones at ?ncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey are being used as part of Turkey’s fight against the…Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Two of the four Predators drones deployed on Nov. 14 at ?ncirlik Air Base made their first test flights in Adana. The lift-off operation was carried out by the American staff of the Ground Control Unit at the base. The Predators were controlled during the whole flight by a center based in the US state of Nevada. Images of the flight will be delivered to US military quarters in Ankara after initially being sent to the US.

Panetta said the US has obtained permission to fly these drones over Iraqi airspace.

Before coming to Turkey, Panetta saw the end of the US war in Iraq on Thursday with an official ceremony in Baghdad nearly nine years after the invasion…The war left nearly 4,500 US soldiers dead and over 100,000 civilians killed either by US forces or the bloody sectarian fight between majority Shi’ite and minority Sunni Arabs. The price tag for the war is estimated to be over $800 billion. The US military mission will be replaced by a State Department mission next year with as many as 16,000 staff and contracted personnel in Iraq to be deployed under a different scheme.

…’The price was worth it,’ he said…Iraq’s neighbors, including Turkey, will keep a close watch on how Baghdad will confront its problems without the buffer of a US military presence. In trying to allay concerns over the US withdrawal, Panetta confirmed that the US will stay committed to Iraq. ‘We will have long-term relationship with Iraq and continue to work with Iraq,’ he said.

As for Syria, the US Defense Secretary commended the Turkish position, saying Turkey has exercised leadership in trying to get [Bashar] al-Assad to do the right thing…

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Pentagon Appoints Turkey To Police Iraq, Confront Iran

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/Turkey-Playing-Increasing-Role-in-Iraq-135749873.html

Voice of America News
December 16, 2011

Turkey Playing Increasing Role in Iraq
Dorian Jones

-’I suppose many more drones, flying over Iraq in order to continue to monitoring things. And I guess they want Incirlik to be open, more open, to American use as well…’
-The semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region, which borders Turkey, is, according to observers, strategically important to Washington.
Last month, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said Washington has proposed to take over the influential role of training Iraqi military personal, now that U.S. troops are pulling out.
‘We have been contributing in training military elements in Iraq within the framework of NATO.’
-The expected growing cooperation between Ankara and Washington on Iraq, they say, will only strengthen bilateral relations, which will only add to Tehran’s angst.

Istanbul: The U.S. secretary of defense is visiting NATO ally Turkey. He arrived in the Turkish capital, Ankara, after attending a withdrawal ceremony Thursday in Bagdad of American troops all of whom are due to leave by the end of the month. With the U.S. withdrawal, Turkey is now being seen by Washington as playing a potential key role in Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is spending two days in Turkey meeting the country’s political leadership, with Iraq expected to be a key topic on the agenda.

The NATO allies are already increasingly cooperating in the region.

Last month, the U.S. transferred drones from Iraq to the Turkish airbase of Incirlik close to the Iraqi border.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University says with U.S. forces pulling out of Iraq at the end of the month, that cooperation will only deepen.

‘I suppose many more drones, flying over Iraq in order to continue to monitoring things,’ said Ozel. ‘And I guess they want Incirlik to be open, more open, to American use as well. Politically, they would want Turkey to make sure that things never get of hand between Kurds and Arabs. And in [a] way maintaining the autonomy or viability of the Kurdistan regional government territory.’

The semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region, which borders Turkey, is, according to observers, strategically important to Washington.

Last month, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said Washington has proposed to take over the influential role of training Iraqi military personal, now that U.S. troops are pulling out.

‘We have been contributing in training military elements in Iraq within the framework of NATO,’ said Unal. ‘This issue has come up to the agenda, and of course, we will be considering it.

Such a move is seen as strengthening Turkey’s influence in greater Iraq and countering what observers say is expected growing Iranian influence with the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz for the Turkish daily Milliyet says Ankara shares Washington’s concerns about growing Iranian influence in Iraq.

‘The increase of the Iranian through Shia elements in Iraq, that is what Turkey will be worried about,’ added Idiz. ‘And with Turkey there is a political competition going on for influence between Iran and Turkey.’

Ankara has in the past few years been seeking to extend its political influence in Iraq. It reportedly backed a coalition of Sunni and secular groups led by Ayad Allawi in Iraq’s general election last year, against the incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is seen as being close to Tehran.

But international relations expert Soli Ozel says while Ankara may be willing to challenge Iranian influence, there is already growing irritation in Baghdad towards Ankara.

‘It will want to play a role, but just last week, Maliki was rather curt about Turkey and what Turkey was trying to do,’ noted Ozel. ‘So relations may not be that great. And that is not a surprise since Turkey did not want Maliki to be prime minister.’

Any attempt by Ankara to challenge Iranian influence in Iraq will likely strain relations with Tehran. Those relations are already under pressure over Ankara’s support for the opposition against Tehran’s key ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Murat Bilhan, former senior Turkish diplomat and professor of international relations at Kultur University, says Iraq is part of a wider trend driving apart the once close allies.

‘They have diverged, that is a fact,’ said Bilhan. ‘It’s a rival anyway – rival in central Asia, the Persian Gulf, Syria and the whole region.’

That prospect, observers say, will be undoubtedly welcomed by Washington. The expected growing cooperation between Ankara and Washington on Iraq, they say, will only strengthen bilateral relations, which will only add to Tehran’s angst.

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Turkey’s Top Military Council Prepares For War

http://en.trend.az/regions/met/turkey/1969739.html

Trend News Agency
December 16, 2011

Top Turkish military council reviews preparedness for war

The Top Turkish military council has said it reviewed Turkish military’s preparedness for war following a key meeting, Today’s Zaman reported.

A statement released by the General Staff on its web-site on Thursday said the Supreme Military Council (YAS) discussed activities of the Turkish military in domestic and border security, adding that it reviewed the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) preparedness for war.

The statement didn’t elaborate threats Turkey faces and said it assessed the Turkish army’s needs and necessary steps to address these requirements to this end.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview two weeks ago that Turkey does not want to consider a military option for intervention in neighboring Syria as Damascus cracks down on popular protest, but it is ready for any scenario.

Davutoglu also said the international community may decide a buffer zone is needed in Syria…

‘If the oppression continues, Turkey is ready for any scenario. We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary. The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people,’ Davutoglu then said.

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Iraq: Fallujah Celebrates U.S. Troop Exit, Honors The Slain

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2011-12/17/c_131311531.htm

Xinhua News Agency
December 17, 2011

Central Iraq’s ‘City of Resistance’ celebrates U.S. troop exit

           
FALLUJAH, Iraq: A series of celebrations for the U.S. troop withdrawal were held peacefully in central Iraq’s Fallujah city on Friday.

Fallujah, dubbed the ‘City of Resistance’ as a former bastion of the anti-U.S. insurgency, launched a photo exhibition Friday at the city’s Youth Center Hall, featuring photos of mass destruction and civilian casualties which were caused by the U.S. counter-insurgency campaign in 2004.

Local residents also paid tribute to the tombs of the martyrs of Fallujah, who were killed in the 2004 conflict.

Fallujah once was one of the major redoubts of the Iraqi resistance immediately after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. For weeks in April and November in 2004, Fallujah was under siege by U.S. troops. U.S. aircraft and artillery brutally bombarded the city, some 69 km west of Baghdad, killing and wounding thousands of Iraqi people.

Besides, a festival of poetry was held in the city’s center of culture and science, hailing the anti-U.S efforts and the ending of the U.S. occupation.

On Wednesday, thousands of people gathered in the city to celebrate the U.S. troop pullout. The demonstrations turned fierce, as U.S. national flags were seen set on fire.

The U.S. military handed over its last base in Iraq to the Iraqi authorities on Friday, a day after the U.S. force marked the end of its mission in the country, as the remaining 4,000 U.S. soldiers are moving out on daily basis.

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U.S. Rallies NATO Support For Georgia’s Accession

http://en.trend.az/regions/scaucasus/georgia/1970039.html

Trend News Agency
December 16, 2011

U.S. works to form unified approach toward Georgia
N. Kirtskhalia

Tbilisi: The U.S. is working to form a unified approach of NATO’s members toward Georgia at the NATO Chicago summit, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin said at a briefing in Tbilisi on Friday.

He emphasized that Washington supports Georgia’s intention to integrate with North Atlantic bodies and NATO.

Rubin said that while visiting Tbilisi in November that NATO ambassadors have become familiarized with Georgia’s progress achieved in various sectors.

‘We believe that this progress will be appreciated at the NATO Chicago Summit,’ he said. ‘The steps to be done in the future will be also discussed. These steps must be the result of consensus. The U.S. is working to form a unified approach toward Georgia.’

‘Georgia is the largest contributor in Afghanistan per capita,’ he said…He expressed condolences to relatives of 10 Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

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http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24275

Civil Georgia
December 16, 2011

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Visits Tbilisi

Tbilisi : Incorporating electoral recommendations from Venice Commission to Georgia’s election code will be helpful, Eric Rubin, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said in Tbilisi on December 16.

Rubin, who is charge of oversee relations with countries in the Caucasus at the U.S. Department of State, is visiting Georgia to hold talks with senior officials, as well as opposition representatives.

The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State reiterated Washington’s support for Georgia’s NATO aspirations. He said that NATO’s decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council (NAC), noted ‘significant progress in a significant number of areas in Georgia’s efforts to advance its candidacy for membership in NATO’ when ambassadors from the NAC visited Georgia in November.

Rubin said that it would be very important for that progress to be recognized at the NATO Summit in Chicago in spring, 2012.

‘And it will be very important for there to be a serious discussion about the next steps to move Georgia’s aspirations forward,’ he said. ‘How we do that and in what format we do that, with what words we do that will have to be the subject of consensus within the Alliance and between now and then that’s something we will be working very actively on with our allies.’

Davit Bakradze, the Georgian parliamentary speaker, said after meeting with the U.S. diplomat on December 16, that 2012 would be ‘very active and dynamic’ for U.S.-Georgian relations.

‘We will probably see some new initiatives, which will be very useful for Georgia and which will further deepen the relationship between Georgia and the United States,’ Bakradze said.

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is expected to visit Georgia next year. No exact date is yet set, according to the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

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http://rustavi2.com/news/news_text.php?id_news=44102&pg=1&im=main&ct=0&wth=

Rustavi 2
December 16, 2011

Clinton intends to arrive in Georgia

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton intends to arrive in Georgia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin, who is on his visit in Tbilisi said today.

At a press conference, Rubin said the date of the visit is uncertain yet, although representatives of the two sides are working to agree upon details of the forthcoming official meetings.

‘The agenda will be very broad – it will be our partnership, it will be what we call omnibus talks, which literally means in English everything. And we have a lot to talk about so this is a meeting…that I think should be looking at all aspects of our relationships, making a number of cooperation [moves from] trade to our defence relationship, to Georgia`s own big events coming in the next couple of years including the elections to the NATO summit in Chicago next year. There is a lot to talk about and I know she really enjoyed her visit here last time’, Rubin said.

When talking about the US-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, the deputy assistant secretary stressed the significant of the document.

‘We see the charter as a broad map and we see it as well as a foundation stone for building our relationship and for moving forward in all the areas of our relationship. The charter was so important with that it took all of the various areas we were then working on together and making progress and actually put it in a format and a structure that gave us a way to work in a very organized way to make progress in all that differences…supporting each other in achieving those objectives in the community United States to supporting Georgia`s Euro Atlantic aspirations, its aspirations for NATO membership and its aspirations for broader and I`d say more active engagement with the alliance and with the U.S. bilaterally and that`s an obligation we will take very seriously’, he said.

Rubin added prominent representatives of the NATO member countries on the North Atlantic Council, during their recent visit in Georgia, said significant progress had been achieved on the country`s way to the alliance.

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Georgia Hosts Meeting Of NATO Centers In Former Soviet States

http://en.trend.az/news/politics/1970165.html

Trend News Agency
December 16, 2011

Main priority of Georgian foreign policy discussed in Tbilisi
N. Kirtskhalia

Tbilisi: Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze has today opened a regional meeting of representatives of the information centers on NATO in Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Armenia and non-governmental organizations at the Holiday Inn hotel.

He spoke about the significance of the main priority of Georgian foreign policy – joining NATO. It is important for the safety of Georgia and the region. He paid special attention to the importance of mentioning Georgia in the final statement of the NATO ministerial meeting as an aspirant country, along with the Western Balkan countries. He also stressed an active and effective role of the NATO information center in terms of raising the population’s awareness about the alliance and assistance for the Euro-Atlantic integration.

The regional meeting will last until December 18.

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Georgia Increases Troop Strength For NATO’s Afghan War

http://en.trend.az/regions/scaucasus/georgia/1970055.html

Trend News Agency
December 16, 2011

Georgia increases military contingent in Afghanistan’s peacekeeping mission
N. Kirtskhalia

Tbilisi: Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has today appealed to the Parliament to obtain consent to send one additional infantry battalion to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. This battalion will serve under U.S. command.

Earlier, the Georgian Parliament had already agreed on the participation of one infantry company and a group of trainers (in the French contingent), one infantry battalion (in the U.S. contingent), and two servicemen (in the Turkish contingent) in the ISAF mission.

The Parliament will approve the corresponding resolution to send the additional battalion at a special session next week.

At present, about 900 Georgian servicemen serve in Afghanistan. Their number will increase to 1,500 from 2012. Thus, Georgia will be the largest contributor among non-NATO members.

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Pakistan: Squeezed NATO Supply Line Runs Dry

http://tribune.com.pk/story/307420/squeezed-nato-supply-line-runs-dry/

Express Tribune
December 16, 2011

Squeezed NATO supply line runs dry
By Shahbaz Rana

ISLAMABAD: Stepping up pressure on an already-squeezed supply line, Pakistan on Thursday imposed a ban on export of petroleum products to Afghanistan and Central Asia, meant for Nato troops posted in the region.

The decision was taken in a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC), the country’s highest economic decision-making body, headed by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

The import is being practiced only on paper, and all these petroleum products are being sold in Pakistan after going through the export process, said the ministry of petroleum and natural resources in a justification given to the ECC.

The government was also facing criticism for providing subsidised products to Afghanistan at a time when domestic consumers are subject to heavy taxation. The petroleum ministry officials said around 850,000 tons of jet fuel, consumed by Nato forces, is exported to Afghanistan per year.

Pakistan had also been exporting 150,000 tons of high-speed diesel and 100,000 tons of petrol at subsidised rates since 2002-03.

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Belgium: NATO Conducts 29-Nation Cyber Warfare Exercise

http://www.defpro.com/news/details/30767/?SID=cc2aa5e27ee6529f9c7861cd6564633f

Defence Professionals
December 16, 2011

Cyber Coalition 2011 exercise tests NATO procedures for cyber defence

NATO conducted from 13 to 15 December a cyber defence exercise in order to test technical and operational Alliance cyber defence capabilities. The exercise called Cyber Coalition 2011 was an opportunity to test Alliance working procedures for responding to large scale cyber attacks targeting information infra-structures of NATO and individual countries.

A total of 23 NATO and six partner nations nations were involved in the exercise.

‘I am delighted to see so many participants joining us for NATO’s major annual cyber coalition exercise’, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, Ambassador Gabor Iklody said. ‘The number of players and observers is growing every year. This demonstrates the high importance that Allies and partners attach to achieving better protection against rapidly increasing cyber threats and also confirms NATO’s recognition as a key player in cyber defence’.

Around 100 specialists took part in the exercise from locations in the Alliance’s SHAPE Headquarters in Mons and the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. A similar number of national experts participated from national cyber defence facilities in their respective countries.

The exercise also offered an opportunity to check technical and operational responsibilities and to look into the needs for collaboration between NATO and partner nations. The European Union participated in the exercise with an observer role.

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Chicago: Protesters Cry Foul Over NATO, G8 Restrictions

http://www.wbez.org/story/protestors-cry-foul-over-proposed-g8-nato-restrictions-94957

WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio
December 15, 2011

Protestors cry foul over proposed G8, NATO restrictions
Michell Eloy

Protesters are criticizing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to raise fines and tighten security measures during the upcoming G8 and NATO summits.

The mayor introduced an ordinance during Wednesday’s City Council meeting that, if passed, would temporarily raise fines for resisting police or aiding someone escaping arrest. During the summits, which could draw thousands of protesters, Emanuel wants to increase the minimum fine from $25 to $200 and double the maximum fine to $1,000. His proposed ordinance would also close parks, playgrounds and beaches overnight for longer periods of time.

‘People are outraged,’ said Mary Zerkel, who’s with the Quaker group American Friends Services Committee. ‘It’s, again, the tightening of free speech.’

Zerkel said the proposed restrictions could deter peaceful protesters.

‘People are going to think twice about that kind of money to engage in non-violent civil disobedience,’ said Zerkel.

University of Chicago Assistant Law Professor Aziz Huq said courts often grant cities more leeway in setting time, place and manor restrictions on protesters, so long as the restrictions are ‘content neutral.’

‘On the other hand, if there’s reason to believe that what’s going on here is the suppression of a particular view point, then I think that’s a very different case,’ said Huq.

The NATO and G8 summits are scheduled to be held a McCormick Place in mid May.

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Afghanistan: NATO’s Iron Man Versus Frankenstein’s Militarized Monster

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=82653&Cat=9

News International
December 17, 2011

Nato’s Iron Man, reality’s Frankenstein
Wajahat S Khan

-For next year, Nato is well on its way to making a security force in Afghanistan that will consume most of that poor country’s resources and operate in areas where it will be seen either as an ethnic ‘outsider’, a foreign ‘invader’ or a local ‘traitor’. If you’re a Pakistani, whether in Karachi, Balochistan or Fata, this should all sound very familiar. Thus, much like a Hollywood superhero fantasy, Nato’s mad scientists are inadvertently putting together an (ethnically skewed and over consumptive) ‘Pakistan Army model’ to tackle the Taliban – and, yes, maybe even the Pakistan Army itself – in Afghanistan. The irony is superb.

Around 200 kilometres from Amsterdam, in South Limburg (famously called the ‘appendix of the Netherlands’), lies the sleepy town of Brunsum.

Once home to the Dutch charcoal mining industry, a gas find in the north of the country during the 1950s put Brunsum on the Netherlands’ not-doing-so-well list. The Eurocrats didn’t struggle too hard to figure what to do with this ailing community: soon enough, Nato was invited to build its Joint Forces Command Headquarters here. Since then, life changed for the locals, as it’s not everyday that one’s hometown becomes the epicentre of a global military command structure.

Thus, in 1967, when General Kayani was probably filling out his application forms to enter the Pakistan Military Academy as a gentlemen cadet, JFC Brunsum became the forward base for history’s mightiest military alliance, overseeing the European theatre as the Cold War reached its peak.

Nowadays, Brunsum is the thinking post for another war, in another continent. The locals are still sleepy, but this new campaign is keeping the uniforms of Brunsum wide awake, even sleepless.

From almost 6000 kilometres away, Nato controls the 10-year-old conflict in Afghanistan. The workday starts early for Marine General John Allen and his staff, who are three and half hours ahead in Kabul, averaging five video-conferences with Brunsum every day. On their part, the intelligence analysts here devise formulae that can help Allen and his Isaf commanders deal with the day-to-day, as well as the long haul, of the war.

These days, the analysts at Brunsum are more worried than usual: the deadline of 2014 looms, the ‘transition’ phase is in full effect, tensions with Pakistan are at an all-time high, and Nato has to urgently deliver on training and equipping the Afghan National Security Forces. This means that it has to ensure the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police are fighting-fit and corruption-free entities that are ready to secure their country, fast.

Think of it in another way, while trying on Nato’s shoes: You’re broke and not the man you used to be (an economic crisis and not enough local support for the war have dwindled Natos’ efforts); your partner caught you cheating and has filed for divorce (post-Salala Pakistan is hitting back with several punitive measures); and you have resorted to leaving the house while trying to ensure your two delinquent juveniles become responsible adults who can fend for themselves (the ANA and the ANP have to be shaped up ASAP so that they can fill the security vacuum Nato shall leave behind).

If life in Afghanistan were Hollywood, Nato would have low self-esteem, an empty bank account, and a bad drinking habit at this point of the movie.

Thus, much like a badgered Hollywood protagonist, an increasingly desperate Nato is looking for that magic pill that could end its problems, here and now. Keeping our blockbuster in perspective, Nato is now working in overdrive to plug all possible gaps: it can’t do much about the financial crunch, nor the weak support for the war effort, neither can it woo Pakistan back easily, so it’s spending extra time in the basement trying to hammer together solutions that will make its two affected teenagers – the Afghan army and police – functional and contributing members of society. In this plot, Nato’s legacy could be sealed as a good dad and a great creator.

The problem is that this Ironman approach Nato’s devising for Afghanistan, by providing it a new suit of armour via beefing up the ANA/ANP, is looking more and more like Frankenstein’s rendition of a militarised monster. The formula for saving Afghanistan – a country that has fought itself longer than it has fought foreign powers – by converting it into a multi-polar security state is morphed. Here’s how.

Nato’s metrics are almost unfathomable in their optimism, as this summary of JFC Brunsum’s stated year-end objective for 2012 indicates: Make a 352,000 man army and police force that is not necessarily representative of the ethnic reality and composition of Afghanistan (and is projected by Nato itself to consume around 30 to 40 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP), deploy them in an environment where they either don’t belong (ethnically) or will face pressures (socially/tribally), give them command authority as well as the weapons and training platforms to perform at the tactical, operational and eventually the strategic level (while the government in Kabul continues to struggle for legitimacy and establishing its writ country-wide)…and then leave!

Let’s repeat that again: For next year, Nato is well on its way to making a security force in Afghanistan that will consume most of that poor country’s resources and operate in areas where it will be seen either as an ethnic ‘outsider’, a foreign ‘invader’ or a local ‘traitor’. If you’re a Pakistani, whether in Karachi, Balochistan or Fata, this should all sound very familiar. Thus, much like a Hollywood superhero fantasy, Nato’s mad scientists are inadvertently putting together an (ethnically skewed and over consumptive) ‘Pakistan Army model’ to tackle the Taliban – and, yes, maybe even the Pakistan Army itself – in Afghanistan. The irony is superb.

But here’s the scary twist. Brunsum’s analysts estimate that Afghanistan’s cops suffer a 30 percent ‘attrition’ rate, which means around 45,000 will go AWOL – desert their positions – just this year. Meanwhile, the army has a representation crisis (according to Foreign Affairs and The Economist magazines, less than 10 percent of the ANA’s Officer Corps is Pashtun – the ethnic group that forms the backbone of the Taliban-led insurgency). Thus, Afghanistan’s cops are running off, while its soldiers are ethnically opposed to their enemy – and the 2014 pullout hasn’t even begun!

Drive through Kabul and you see the chaos of a new police state. Multiple uniforms – Special Forces, regular army, ‘Urdu’ militia (a shady lashkar which is the only Pashtun-dominated component of the ANSF), national police and local police all guard different turfs within a kilometre of downtown.

It’s not fantasy to wonder how benevolent these uniforms will treat themselves, their people and each other when the ‘kharji’ (foreigners) leave, pulling the plug of dollars and authority after 2014. Thus, Nato’s monster – Afghanistan’s artificial military complex – that has been fed so far, just might feed on itself. Cannibalism versus kebabs? That’s the choice Afghans are facing, thanks to Nato’s experiment.

The writer is a Harvard Shorenstein Fellow and investigates for print/broadcast/social media. Email: wajahat_khan@hks. harvard.edu

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Posted 17th December 2011 by InI in category NATO

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