Soleimani was known to have been one of the most powerful people in Iran, second only to the Ayatollah himself.
The airstrike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, leader of the country’s elite al-Quds force, and also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of Iraq’s Hashd-al Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces, seems to have finally given a significant chunk of Trump’s support base a rude awakening: contrary to his claims, the current POTUS is no anti-interventionist. For all his dovish posturing and promises on the 2016 campaign trail to bring American troops home and withdraw from the “endless wars” in the Middle East (a position that arguably played a huge part in winning him the presidency of the United States), he may have just lit a fuse on a situation that even he will find impossible to contain. By killing Soleimani, Trump has chosen to take a drastic course of action that even Barack Obama, who engaged in continuous drone warfare throughout his presidency, and George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq, were loath to undertake out of fear that it would have catastrophic consequences for the United States and American presence in the Middle East.
This development signals a clear failure of the Trump administration’s so-called ‘maximum pressure’ strategy – which aimed to economically besiege Iran through sanctions to the point of bringing the country to its knees. And the irony is that it might actually have worked, too, given the wave of protests that took place across the country – had Donald Trump not jolted the country’s population into uniting in their grief after he decided to ruthlessly assassinate one of their most popular national figures. For the time being, national solidarity over what is being seen as an illegal assassination has quashed the popular protests that were taking place across the country. So Trump’s directive has backfired spectacularly, and if unfolding events are anything to go by, it looks like from here on out, the United States is set to face a tremendous amount of blowback for carrying out such an ill-advised operation so hastily. Continue reading
Filed under Al Qaeda, Discussion, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Islam, Islamophobia, Israel, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, The Middle East, United States
There has been no fundamental change in India’s attitude towards Pakistan. It has never seriously engaged with Pakistan on conflict resolution.
This was one of the points made by Riaz Khokhar, former Ambassador and Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, on 29 January 2020 in his keynote address in the inaugural session of a two-day conference on ‘Kashmir, the Way Forward’, organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA). Mr Khokhar started his speech by saying that the subject could not be looked at in isolation because it involved a number of factors: the situation in South Asia in the geopolitical and economic context, the world order was in flux, the rise of China, Russia reasserting itself, the US still believing in its superiority as an exceptional power, the US-India strategic partnership and flashpoints such as Afghanistan and the Middle East. He rejected the notion that the Pakistan government was caught napping when Modi made his move [in Kashmir]. “We were following his election very carefully, and there was a genuine understanding that if he was to return with a massive majority then we should expect him to do things. The Pakistani government did handle the first phase of the problem coolly.” Watch Video
Mr Khokhar said in order to analyse the situation we needed to see what Modi did: he basically abolished articles 370 and 35(A). And why at this time? There were several reasons, he argued. First, as the leader of the BJP and a deeply committed RSS man, he was committed to the concept of Hindutva. Secondly, he was convinced that if he did that, it would be a popular move [among Hindus]. Thirdly, he was convinced that the international community was not with Pakistan. Fourth, after the February 2019 skirmish he was convinced that Pakistan was not entirely strong –– he saw it politically fractured, economically weak, but militarily strong. He also realised that Pakistan was financially in a difficult situation; if there was a war we would have difficulty in financing it. Continue reading
Filed under Citizenship, Discussion, Europe, Events, Human Rights, ICJ, India, Islam, Karachi, Kashmir, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, UK, United States
Despite a furious response from the Pakistani media, the foreign office and ISPR have responded sensibly to the situation.
Trump is a total racist who thinks that black people from “shithole countries” such as poor Haiti are unworthy of the superior status he bestows upon white people from Norway. But of course he went on to quickly deny he said that at all. Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury confirms that Trump is an infantile person and his administration knows that he is an 11 year old. Psychoanalytic studies suggest that human beings always need an external object to put all the blames on him for their own misdeeds. We create an external enemy of ‘flesh and blood’ that can be fought and can be avenged. In other words, we imagine that our failures are not because of our own misdeeds but because of some other external forces. Such use of imagination helps us to come out of our inner sorrow by blaming some external enemy who is falsely thought to be the reason for our own failures. After all, states are run by human beings not stones. Indeed, states are often in ‘denial’ about accepting reality and the US is no different in that resect.
A recent tweet by Donald Trump blamed Pakistan and argued that ‘The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!’ Mounting tensions have led Pakistan to react by halting intelligence sharing with the US after losing American military aid. Instead, Islamabad will turn to its ‘time tested friend’ and ‘reliable ally’ Beijing. In October 2017, the same Trump was found praising Pakistan for its cooperation in rescuing a North-American family from the Taliban. However, now, Trump has accused Pakistan of giving safe haven to the terrorists that Americans hunt in Afghanistan. Continue reading
British MPs voted 397 votes to 223 – a majority of 174 – and approved airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and hours later the RAF was in action. Ministers predict British involvement in the conflict for at least two years.
How strange that David Cameron should so quickly and randomly shift his military focus from the Damascus regime to the “medieval murderers” of ISIS in Raqqa – the group’s nerve centre or the “head of the snake” which needs to be “crushed”. But given the frequency and scale of the attacks mounted by the extremist group, it is not surprising that the slippery British prime minister is finding it quite easy to cash in on the short-term counter-terrorism/foreign policy windfall options available to him. Proceedings lacked the sobriety one would associate with a decision to bomb another country, a decision that will inevitably kill innocent civilians. MPs cheered the vote to expand the war initiative but the parties remained divided. With emotions running deep, the British Parliament exposed its crusader proclivities and MPs who dared to vote against Cameron’s will were labelled as a “bunch of terrorist sympathisers” the night before the vote. Four Tornados from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus took part in the operation against ISIS near Omar oil fields soon after MPs voted to approve military action. Moreover, six Typhoons also arrived in Cyprus from Scotland.
The recent surge in terrorist attacks helped Cameron to obtain Parliament’s approval for the RAF to conduct air raids against ISIS in Syria. Here is a short list of some attacks. On 10 October, in Ankara more than a 100 people were killed at a peace rally by explosions. On 31 October, a bomb planted by the ISIS affiliated Sinai Province organisation brought down a Russian Metrojet over Sinai, Egypt killing all 224 passengers on board. On 4 November, also in Sinai, nine people were killed at a police club by Sinai Province. Continue reading
As noted in earlier posts, big hopes were riding on the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). And as expected, the session was dominated by events in the ruined country known as Syria – once the beating heart of Arab nationalism – which we have discussed in recent posts here, here and here. Despite the veneer of cordiality, world leaders could not conceal the tensions between them. They are divided over the future of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. President Putin had thrown himself in the limelight in advance of the session by flexing Russia’s military might in the historic – without notice – style of the former Soviet Union. Predictably, on 28 September, he opportunistically presented himself as the missing link in the Syrian puzzle. The clever Russian president did not conceal his intentions in an impassioned speech which provided him the ideal opportunity to announce his future plans. Putin’s fans, like his blunt instrument in Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, rejoiced when military action ultimately became a reality and requested to be sent in as a ground force to fight (preferably hand-to-hand) the jihadis of ISIS.
After Putin had set the stage, just a couple of days later, on 30 September 2015, when Russia initiated airstrikes in Syria the west responded negatively and US defence secretary Ashton Carter accused the Kremlin of “pouring gasoline on fire”. However, unlike some others (e.g. Great Britain) Russia took military action with the consent of its parliament and at the invitation of a sovereign government – albeit the collapsing, murderous and much hated regime in Damascus. But Russia is nonetheless being condemned for attacking the Free Syrian Army Continue reading
Filed under Discussion, Iran, Israel, NATO, Pakistan, Palestine, Peace building, Politics, Russia, Taliban, The Middle East, UK, United States
With news of Russian drones humming over Syrian skies, the Kremlin’s military operations in Syria appear to be in full swing. And Russian president Vladimir Putin looks set to address the UN General Assembly next week on Monday 28 September 2015 where he will reiterate his intentions to fight ISIS and support the battered regime of Bashar al-Assad. Equally, it appears that Putin’s American counterpart Barack Obama, who will also be attending, has approved meeting him in New York to bury the hatchet over Syria and Ukraine. Both the White House and the Kremlin confirm the meeting but the Obama administration stressed that it has huge differences with Putin and that the meeting had been called on Russia’s request. It is the first time the two leaders will be meeting in a year and the event signals an end to American attempts to diplomatically alienate Putin for his annexation of Crimea. Representing a significant propaganda victory for Putin, these rather interesting developments come off the heels of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent remarks that: “We have to speak to with many actors. This includes Assad but others [US, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia] as well.”
So building a coalition to save Syria from ISIS is on the cards and these events will dominate the agenda during next week’s UN meeting – the 70th session of the General Assembly. Meanwhile, it is reported that Putin will take unilateral military action in Syria if the west does not support him. Like America’s message on the war on terror in 9/11’s aftermath, there is an “either you are with us or against us” ring to it all and world leaders are taking care to avoid unnecessary confrontation with Russia. Explaining that Russia does not plan to “occupy” Syria Continue reading
Filed under China, Discussion, Europe, Germany, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Politics, Syria, The Middle East, United States
The EU is stretched to its outer limits in tackling issues thrown up by the economy, migration and terrorism. Tory politicians such as British prime minister David Cameron – who has been accused of extreme debauchery and profane and illegal behaviour by his former friend Michael Ashcroft in the upcoming biography Call Me Dave – are hell bent on “renegotiating” their country’s relationship with Europe. As we are already aware, the controversial and impending “in-out” referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is a hotly debated matter. It is also very interesting to observe that the UK’s Electoral Commission, which is required by the Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000 to consider the precise wording of the referendum question and publish a statement of its views as to its intelligibility, has said that the question needs to be changed. Notably, in the European Union Referendum Bill as introduced into the UK parliament the proposed referendum question is: Should the UK remain a member of the EU?
The Electoral Commission suggests that the questions should be changed to: Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU? Answers: Remain a member of the EU – Leave the EU. But as we see in this post on the EU’s vision for gender equality and women’s empowerment, as an institution the Union is a very positive thing and it would be fair comment that people such as the European Commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker and his colleagues do not like the Tory party’s stance on Europe. On 21 September 2015, the European Commission and the European External Action Service adopted a new framework for the EU’s activities on gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU’s external relations. The New framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations (2016-2020) (see press release and see here) aims to Continue reading
Despite the Democratic filibuster in the US Senate of the Republican resolution of disapproval in relation to the Iran deal, difficult questions loom over Tehran’s nexus with Damascus and the appalling state of affairs in Syria. Large swathes of Syrian territory – historically allocated to France through the arbitrary Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916, dismembering the Ottoman Empire, between Britain and France – have been lost to the so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS/ISIL). After four years of carnage, war and the displacement of millions, Syria’s borders have been completely redrawn with the result that the government retains control of a mere 30-40 percent of the country’s original de jure territory. Constantly changing battle lines and tactics make it impossible to predict what the future holds. This round up looks at future trends and directions in Syria’s brutal war and the gamut of issues shrouding peacemaking in that country.
The media reports that in 2015 the Royal Air Force carried out more than 100 drone strikes against ISIS/ISIL jihadis – with 29 strikes in August, the surge continued in the first week of September and 14 strikes were conducted. This is so irrespective of the fact that in August 2013 David Cameron’s government lost its bid to join US-led strikes in military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; the motion in support of military intervention was defeated in Parliament by 285-272 votes. The fact that British citizens are being killed in drone strikes under an official “kill list” is all the more alarming for human rights lobbyists in the UK (where, of course, there is no death penalty). Unsurprisingly, Mohammed Emwazi – the balaclava clad knife wielding ISIS executioner initially known only as “Jihadi John” – is said to be number one on the list. Continue reading
Filed under Al Qaeda, Criminal law, Cyber Warfare, Discussion, Europe, ISIS, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Syria, The Middle East
Now that Israeli slaughter is underway yet again, it is an appropriate moment for Pakistanis to show solidarity with Palestinians by recalling what Sir Zafrulla Khan – the author of the Pakistan Resolution – had to say about the “partition” of Palestine in the year of the Nakbah. Lamentably, due to the predicament of our own country under the second amendment, Sir Zafrulla Khan (KCSI, 1893 – 1985, our first foreign minister, representative at the UN, judge at the ICJ and of course the Pakistan Resolution’s draftsman), an adherent of the reformist Ahmadi Muslim community, would be considered a “non-Muslim”.
Yet the perversion of the meaning of the word “Muslim” to appease the mullah street is incapable of denting Sir Zafrulla’s arguments in support of Palestinians. It remains very much the case that Sir Zafrulla wrote Palestine in the U.N.O. as a Musalman. Of that there is no doubt. Equally, he wrote to expose the truth about what happened in the UN. But in the context of our own country, no doubt much to his torment, Sir Zafrulla also lived to see his (and Mr Jinnah’s) dream of a secular Pakistan being destroyed. Continue reading