December 2007 Archives

December 29, 2007

Why Didn't U.S. Protect a Major Asset in Bhutto?

"In the weeks before Benazir Bhutto's assassination [on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan], the Bush administration directly provided her with intelligence on dangers she faced from militants in Pakistan, as U.S.-backed President Pervez Musharraf resisted pressure to expand the scope of her security detail, U.S. lawmakers and other officials and Bhutto supporters said Friday December 28, 2007," according to Paul Richter, a Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

"Yet," Mr. Richter wrote, "as the slain former prime minister was laid to rest, questions mounted about both the adequacy of the U.S. efforts and shortcomings on the side of the Pakistani government."

I'm sure Ms. Bhutto knew the dangers she faced in Pakistan without hearing it from U.S. intelligence. The greater question is: why did she let the Bush Administration persuade her to return to Pakistan spouting rhetoric about cracking down on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban? If Mr. Musharraf couldn't wipe them out, what would make Ms. Bhutto think she could? 

In Ms. Bhutto, was the Bush Administration looking for someone to give U.S. troops permission to openly operate in Pakistan? Just asking.

To read more, see "U.S. gave Bhutto intelligence on dangers she faced."

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December 28, 2007

The Pakistani Government's Credibility Gap

Maqbool Malik, writing in the Pakistani Newspaper The Nation,  contends in a December 29, 2007, dispatch from Islamabad, Pakistan, that:

The conflicting statements made by the government as to what caused PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party] Chairperson Benazir Bhutto’s death Thursday [December 27, 2007] in a shooting-cum-suicide attack, leave glaring credibility gaps for analysts who want to know what really happened. The story going round the government circles Thursday [December 27, 2007] maintained that she was hit in the neck and head by the bullets fired by the assassin, but according to doctor’s report a fatal skull injury caused by a shrapnel flying from the exploding body of the suicide bomber caused her death. However, official spokesperson of the Interior Ministry Brig (r) Javed Iqbal Cheema came out with a different version that sunroof lever of the vehicle she was riding in hit right side of her skull causing the fatal injury. Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has strongly rejected the government claim that the militant leader Baitullah Mehsud had plotted to kill the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. “Our party workers have confirmed that they had heard three to four sniper shots immediately followed by the bomb explosion. It was a targeted killing by sharp shooter about whom the party chairperson Benazir Bhutto had publicly expressed her apprehensions “, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The Nation.

Mr. Malik said, "Babar questioned the ‘genuineness’ of the government’s claimed transcript of Baitullah Mehsud and of his associate, saying “ we do not know it is a genuine script or a one crafted in the dark room by the intelligence agencies”.

To read the entire article, please see "Govt's conflicting statements questioned."

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December 23, 2007

Does the U.S. Have a Lebanon Policy?

Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma, contends in a December 23, 2007, post at Syria Comment that, "The US has no Lebanon policy."

"At least not one that can deliver a solution to the present stand off over the president and composition of the cabinet," he asserts in "The US Has NO Lebanon Policy."

Mr. Landis said, "US policy as it now stands seems designed purely to keep Hizbullah from getting into the government."

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Recommended: 'A Crime Foretold: The Charsadda Bombing'

Recommended: Barnett R. Rubin's December 22, 2007, post at Informed Comment: Global Affairs headlined "A Crime Foretold:  The Charsadda Bombing." This is analysis of the December 21, 2007 suicide attack "that killed 48 people in Charsadda, a village northeast of Peshawar, Pakistan."

According to Mr. Rubin, it "was not aimed just at Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, the former Interior Minister. It was part of a strategy by the Pakistani Taliban, supported by al-Qaida, to surround Peshawar with a ring of destabilization."

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December 22, 2007

Neville de Silva Looks at 'Diplomacy That Conveniently Omits Ethics'

Neville de Silva, writing in The Sunday Times Online, Sri Lanka's "largest-selling Independent English language Sunday newspaper," offers a thought-provoking article in the December 22, 2007, edition headlined "Diplomacy that conveniently omits ethics." I hope it provokes considerable debate.

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Salam Pax Analyzes Iraqi Media's Presence on the Internet

Recommended: Iraqi blogger Salam Pax's December 20, 2007, post at Electronic Iraq.Net headlined "Iraq Online." It's "a quick look at the virtual space Iraqi media occupies on the Internet..."

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