Some believe that first impression is the last impression. So, they say one never gets a second chance to make a first impression. For others, first impressions count but last impressions are forever.
I had my first impression of the Afghan mujahideen in Pakistan. In 1989 Turkish President Evren paid a visit there. I was his director of private office. The program also included a meeting with the mujahideen leaders. The President was going to tell them that since the Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan it was time to end their infighting and focus on rebuilding the country. The meeting was to take place at the guest palace where the President was staying. A few minutes before the meeting our Pakistani hosts told me that the leaders had arrived. Just to make sure that everything was ready, I went downstairs and peeked through the door. I saw like ten battle-hardened, somber looking warriors in their traditional costumes. Okumaya devam et →
Reaction to President Trump’s sudden announcement of troop pullout from Syria and the talks between Washington and the Taliban have reignited the debate on the war on terror.
On February 3, the New York Times editorial titled “End the War in Afghanistan” said:
“But as part of any withdrawal discussions, it should be made clear to the Taliban, the Afghan government and neighboring nations that if the country is allowed to again become a base for international terrorism, the United States will return to eradicate that threat…”
It then mentioned the possibility that the Taliban and regional players like Pakistan, Russia, Iran, India and China might work together on acooperative solution to stabilize Afghanistan and deny terrorists a regional base. And, it concluded by saying that America needs to recognize that foreign war is not a vaccine against global terrorism. (emphasis added) (1) Okumaya devam et →
President Trump’s remarks on the strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia did not break new ground. The principal challenge, as before, remains Afghan leaders forging a united front not only to fight the Taliban, al-Qaeda, tribalism, warlordism and corruption but also to achieve better governance.
The criticism Mr. Trump directed at Pakistan was more strongly worded than that of his predecessor who stated the following before a joint session of the Indian Parliament on November 8, 2010:
“… And we’ll continue to insist to Pakistan’s leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders are unacceptable, and that terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks must be brought to justice…”
Although President Obama left it at that, his choice of venue for those remarks must have caused deep consternation in Islamabad. Okumaya devam et →
For some time now, the Trump administration has been working on a “new strategy” for Afghanistan; a task which unfortunately offers little room for innovative approaches. Reportedly, this new strategy would authorize the Pentagon to set troop numbers in Afghanistan and give the military far broader authority to use airstrikes against the Taliban and IS affiliates. It is understood that sending at least 4,000 more troops and lifting the restrictions that limited the mobility of U.S. military advisers on the battlefield are under consideration. This new strategy is also expected to push an increasingly confident and resurgent Taliban back to the negotiating table. And, with the news that President Trump is frustrated with the delay in finalizing this new strategy and has threatened to fire General Nicholson, the top US military commander there, the question of Afghanistan has moved up on Washington’s agenda. Reports that Iran is gaining ground in Afghanistan as American presence wanes must add to the frustration. Okumaya devam et →
On April 4, toxic substance spread after Syrian warplanes dropped bombs on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province. Scores of people lost their lives. The West and Russia offered conflicting explanations for the tragedy. Three days later, US cruise missiles struck Al Sharyat airfield.
On April 13, in a second display of military power, the US dropped the “mother of all bombs” on caves used by Islamic State affiliates in eastern Afghanistan. Reportedly, dozens of militants were killed. A confident President Trump said that the bombing was “another very, very successful mission.” General Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the bomb (GBU-43/B) was the “right munition” to use against the Islamic State in Khorosan. Some observers drew attention to the “warning to North Korean” dimension of the bombing. Okumaya devam et →
On July 6, 2016, Mr. Tony Blair responded to the Report of the Iraq Inquiry during a two-hour-long press conference. Answering a question, he said that there was a decision and it was a controversial decision – a decision to remove Saddam and a decision to be with America. “Now many people would disagree with both of those decisions,” he added, “Sir John Chilcot came quite close to it this morning. That’s fine, but if you’re going to do that, you have to say what the consequences of the opposite decision would have been.”
Of course, the decision to invade Iraq was not taken in London but in Washington. Mr. Blair joined in under enormous pressure from the other side of the Atlantic. However, he was not being fair in criticizing the Iraq Inquiry for not having speculated on what would have happened had the decision not been taken. This was not the purpose of the Inquiry. Nonetheless, one can make two observations, the first on Afghanistan and the second on terrorism. Okumaya devam et →
It was a few months before the 2008 US Presidential election. I was talking to my American colleague at UNESCO. I said to her that since American presidents’ decisions have global implications, democratic countries should also have the opportunity vote in those elections within a reasonable quota to be shared among them. She responded, “an interesting idea…”. We both laughed. It was a joke but the premise was not entirely without logic.
Now that we are only months away from the end of President Obama’s second term in office, pundits have started to express opinions regarding his legacy. I feel that without voices from the Middle East the portrayal President Obama’s legacy would be incomplete. Okumaya devam et →