Thursday, January 22, 2004

Pencilled in for 2005
Pakistan, according to Stratfor Weekly:

...the United States must, at some point, liquidate the
remnants of al Qaeda in the Afghan-Pakistani theater of
operations. Ideally, the Pakistani army will bear the burden of
moving into the tribal areas in the northwest and will do the job
for the United States. In reality, it is extremely unlikely that
the Pakistani military will have the ability or motivation to
undertake that mission. Therefore, it is likely that the United
States will try to close out the war with a final offensive into
northwestern Pakistan, preferably with the approval of a stable
Pakistani government, but if that is impossible, then on its own.

We would be very surprised if the United States launched this
offensive prior to its elections. The administration has no
appetite for another military campaign until the election is
finished. Therefore, we would expect the United States to be in a
defensive mode until November 2004. It will seek to consolidate
its position in Iraq and in the Egyptian-Iranian line. It will
work to assist the Saudi government, while carrying out covert
operations throughout the region to mop up identified remnants of
al Qaeda. This could include increased operations in northeastern
Africa and in Afghanistan. Until then, the task of General John
Abizaid, head of Central Command, will be to focus on developing
a plan for moving into al Qaeda's homeland, if you will, and
terminating the war by liquidating the final command centers.
Assuming that the preference is not to launch this campaign
during the winter -- not necessarily a fixed principle -- the
offensive would take place in spring 2005.

(subscription only, so no link). It makes sense on the face of it. But the assumption behind this is that they will have the troops to spare to do the job, which in turn means a stable Iraq. Also, if Pakistan/Afghanistan is not stable enough to serve as a troop staging area then that means infiltrating through the various central Asian republics, which in turn implies further backing for the dictatorships of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - pro-war lefties please note. Also, this is going to make the Russians feel even more surrounded, following Shevardnaze's ouster (I'm assuming here that one of Putin's main policy aims is to bring the old soviet republics fully back under Russian influence).

I wonder where Britain fits in to all this. An invasion of Pakistan - even if in the form of a large scale raiding party - is likely to be violently opposed by muslims in Britain, especially those whose families and forebears come from the affected areas. And it may be electortally convenient for the US to stage an invasion in spring 2005, but that falls just before the proposed polling date for the UK.