Prospects for Accidental Nuclear War in the Middle East

Many are obviously alarmed over the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Some of these fears are cartoonish and should be ignored, but there are others that should be given due consideration.  One example of the latter is the question of whether or not an Iranian nuclear weapon would raise the likelihood of an accidental nuclear war between the Islamic Republic and Israel.  Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg outlined a potential scenario last month in one of his regular columns for Bloomberg View.  But the type of “warp speed escalation” to nuclear war that Goldberg invokes is not nearly . . .
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Reassessing the Importance of the Haqqani Network on International Jihad

A new report from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is a must-read for anyone interested in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and even international terrorism (OK, the report is a few weeks old, but I’m doubly slow during the summer). Don Rassler and Vahid Brown have basically changed the narrative on the Haqqani Network and its relationship with al Qaeda. They have done so by examining a huge amount of secondary and primary source data, including the first known review of a near-complete set of three jihadist magazines released by the network from 1989-1993. The authors have also reviewed . . .
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Pakistan, An Incoherent Frenemy

Islamabad is livid. Not surprisingly, reactions to the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden have been quite emphatic in their condemnation of a breach of Pakistani sovereignty. Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi went so far as to say that President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani should resign because the raid represented a failure of government. While Qureshi is no longer a cabinet member, he is thought to be close to the military and his comments thus reflect that institution’s thinking, according to the Washington Post. The confrontational tone is indicative of an establishment . . .
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The Death of Osama bin Laden: A Great Day, but What Next?

Just in case anyone missed it last night, Osama bin Laden has been killed in a Special Forces raid inside Pakistan.  This is a historic event of great importance.  How great is still to be determined—and there are numerous unanswered questions still hanging in the air, both strategically and operationally—but there is little doubt that the death of Osama bin Laden will resonate for years, decades, and perhaps even centuries to come.

As would be expected, this event has given rise to a wealth of commentary on TV, in print, and across the blogosphere.  It would be impossible to . . .
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A Delusional Zardari and the Game of Afghanistan

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is concerned – about Afghanistan. More specifically, he is concerned about the war in Afghanistan and its effect on Pakistan. Speaking to the Guardian’s Simon Tisdall in Islamabad, Zardari said that the war is undermining Pakistan’s efforts to restore democratic institutions and economic prosperity:

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Just as the Mexican drug war on US borders makes a difference to Texas and American society, we are talking about a war on our border which is obviously having a huge effect. Only today a suicide bomber has attacked a police compound in Baluchistan. I think it . . .
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The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan: Crackdown (2005-2010)

Whatever happened to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan? The militant group bent on overthrowing President Islom Karimov’s regime in Uzbekistan came to prominence through some very public attacks in the late 1990s. Over a decade later, the group appears to be stuck in Pakistan’s tribal areas bearing little resemblance to the movement that once stirred up fear and prompted brutal government retaliation in Central Asia. In a four-part series Hegemonic Obsessions will explore the origins, evolution, and current state of the IMU. Part one covered the origins of the group, and part two covered the movement’s split in 2002 . . .
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The messy foursome in South Asia

The Times of India reported this week that Pakistan and China are strengthening military ties. The two countries have announced a “packed military exchanges’ schedule in 2011,” which includes two joint military exercises, and military representatives from both sides spoke of closer security cooperation going forward. Kind words between these two isn’t anything new, but developments in South Asia and elsewhere on the continent could give new relevance to the relationship and catch them in a bothersome foursome.

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As we have noted before, China is pushing into Central Asia while also stirring up an arms . . .
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Pakistan: Aid with strings attached

C. Christine Fair, Georgetown professor and one of the leading experts on South Asian security, has a very good article up on Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel about the sale of F-16 to Pakistan (this is particularly interesting to me, as I wrote my thesis on U.S.-Afghan relations in 1988-92). As Fair notes, the sale fell through when the first Bush administration refused to certify that Pakistan wasn’t pursuing nuclear weapons, which then triggered the Pressler amendment and froze U.S. aid and weapons sales to Pakistan.

What infuriated the Pakistanis the most was that they had paid, at least in . . .
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