Precursor To Pakistan-India Nuclear War Over Balochistan

India, Pakistan on the brink again

Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed India's claim about the Pakistani boat on terror mission in Arabian Sea.

Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed India’s claim about the Pakistani boat on terror mission in Arabian Sea.

Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed India’s claim about the Pakistani boat on terror mission in Arabian Sea.

TAREK FATAH | TORONTO SUN

During the holiday season, while North American media obsessed over North Korea’s alleged hacking of Sony Corporation and dressed it up as a major international incident, a far more serious confrontation between two other nuclear powers escaped their attention.While sanctions on North Korea grabbed headlines, few of us were aware of the rising tensions between India and Pakistan that could have far-reaching consequences for us in the West.

On New Year’s Eve, as people partied around the globe, a naval incident was unfolding in the Arabian Sea, some 365 kilometres off the Indian city of Porbander.

India’s defence ministry would later disclose in a statement that its coast guard ships and aircraft had intercepted a “suspect” Pakistani fishing boat after Indian intelligence tracked the vessel as it left port near Karachi.

Fishing boats that cross into the other country’s waters are regularly impounded by both India and Pakistan, but this boat was hundreds of miles into international waters when the Indians started giving chase.

Instead of stopping and allowing the Indian Coast Guard officials to board the boat, the Pakistani vessel tried to escape. This resulted in an hour-long chase that reportedly only ended when the four “fishermen” set their vessel on fire before blowing themselves up.

The Indian Coast Guard released a video of the boat exploding in a huge ball of fire.

India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar claimed the boat was carrying “suspected terrorists” who were “in touch with the Pakistan Army and the Pakistani establishment.”

After the Indian Express newspaper and the opposition Congress suggested the men on the boat were smugglers, not terrorists, Parrikar asserted:

“I can assure you that those on the boat were not smugglers. The boat was blown up and only people who are motivated and trained could commit suicide.”

For its part, Pakistan strongly rejected Indian allegations the boat was on a terror mission, calling the charges “baseless and preposterous.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson in Islamabad repeated the now familiar Pakistan refrain that, “Pakistan is opposed to terrorism in all forms and manifestation and has been the biggest victim of terrorism.”

The alleged “terror boat” journey was eerily similar to one undertaken by another group of Pakistani terrorists in their 2008 attack on Mumbai.

Seen in the context of Pakistan blaming India for the recent Taliban massacre of students at an army school in Peshawar, could the boat have been part of a reprisal terror attack gone bad?

On Feb. 21 last year, the former head of India’s Intelligence Bureau, who has now taken over as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s national security adviser, uttered a sentence at a speech on India-Pakistan relations that may indicate the seriousness of the current crisis.

Ajit Kumar Doval told an audience at a lecture on the “Strategic Response to Terrorism” at an Indian university:

“You can do one (more) Mumbai; you may lose Balochistan.”

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province where there is a guerrilla war for independence from Islamabad.

It sits at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz from where much of the world’s oil supplies are exported.

If Doval is right, the next war between India and Pakistan will be fought over Balochistan and may involve Islamabad authorizing the “first use” of tactical nuclear weapons.

The Porbander boat incident may very well become the Gulf of Tonkin incident that more than 50 years ago triggered the Vietnam War.

Libya: The Fourth Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

As Libya Spirals Toward Chaos, The West Has Financial Levers To Stop The Fighting
Libyan terrorists
Fighters from the Libyan Dawn militia hold a position taken from a rival militia in the southern part of the town of Wershfana, some 27 kilometers west of Tripoli, on September 29, 2014. (MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Forbes Staff Forbes Staff , Contributor
Guest post written by Ethan Chorin and Monem Alyaser

Just as oil and gas wealth were the pillars of Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal rentier state, they are at the heart of the civil conflict raging in Libya – demonstrated recently by an escalating battle over storage depots and lifting ports in the country’s oil-rich East, and rumors of an imminent siege of Libya’s former capital city of Tripoli, which threatens full-blown civil war. Libya’s oil production, which was up to 800,000 bpd in October, has fallen in the last few days to (optimistically) 350,000 bpd, and will likely go much lower.

Since the 2011 revolution, oil wealth has perversely, and copiously, flowed through Libya’s Central Bank, to pay more than $10 billion annually to a myriad of militias, extremist brigades and criminal gangs, who consistently thwart the efforts of Libya’s popularly elected governments to impose central control. Victims of Libya’s radiating chaos include other resource-rich countries like Algeria (the site of the In Amenas gas facility attack in 2013), Mali (which was nearly overrun by Al Qaeda-affiliates the same year, with weapons imported from Libya), Nigeria (where Boko Haram is undermining that oil-state’s stability), and Niger (home to significant uranium deposits). Libya’s instability radiates arms and ideology back to the rest of the Middle East. Tunisia’s profile as perhaps the only ‘Arab Spring’ success story is endangered by the failure of what might have been a similar success in Libya, had the West applied sufficient resources and pressure to realize a UN-backed post-intervention stabilization effort.

In the country’s oil-rich East, Libya’s popularly elected and internationally sanctioned government, split between Tobruk (site of the House of Representatives, or Parliament) and Al Beida (seat of the Prime Minister and Cabinet), sits in the shadows of a war between Libya Dawn (a collection of militias of varying persuasions, some secular, some so-called ‘Islamists,’ most unified in their belief in a conspiracy to return elements of the former Gaddafi regime to power) and the Libyan Army, headed by Gen. Khalifa Haftar. The Libya Dawn-appointed pretender government, based in Tripoli and headed by Omar al Hasi, has formed a new body to consolidate command over militias in the West, while menacing refineries in the East, and seeking to control less important resources in Libya’s South. Gen. Haftar, an ex-Gaddafi officer whose reincarnation dates to last May, has openly declared war on all extremist militias. Libya Dawn sees Haftar as a key conspirator; from Haftar’s perspective, Libya Dawn is an affront to his generation’s ‘Dignity,’ the title he’s given his campaign of national liberation, supported by key Western regional-tribal militias such as the Zintani and Warshafana. The free-for-all engulfing the country has given movements formerly on the fringe in Libya, like ISIS and Al Qaeda, an opening to set up training camps, projecting arms and ideology into North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Abdullah Al Thinni’s popularly elected government, which is in some disarray, Al Hasi’s group, and a separatist group headed by Ibrahim Jadran (formerly in charge protecting Libya’s eastern oil assets), are locked in a battle over control of Libya’s physical oil and gas resources, its National Oil Company, the Central Bank and Libya’s sovereign wealth funds. Already there are signs of a possible split in the Central Bank’s leadership, with the Tripoli-based, deposed governor Sadik Kabir allegedly refusing to release funds to the Al Thinni government, and his House of Representatives-appointed replacement, Ali Hebri — not recognized by Tripoli — prompting the House of Representatives to try to divert revenues from Eastern oil sales from the Tripoli-based Central Bank., The $60 billion state sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, has its office in Libya Dawn-controlled Tripoli, while its management committee reports to Prime Minister Al Thinni in Tobruk.

Amid this chaos, harried Washington policy makers have floated ideas ranging from freezing Libya’s foreign assets to initiating an outright embargo of Libyan oil. Prominent Libyan businessmen argue that an oil embargo would starve everyday Libyans before it made any dent in the militia or extremist problem. On the other hand, making sure that Libya’s foreign exchange reserves and its sovereign wealth funds are off-limits to finance Libya’s growing budget deficit, is a fundamental precautionary measure. Even some of Haftar’s fiercest detractors admit he could play a positive role in bringing order back to the country — but only if he is willing formally to give up any political aspirations, and is held accountable to the House of Representatives. Currently, Haftar’s supporters appear to be agitating for his promotion to the non-existent (and unconstitutional) position of “General Military Commander”, which seems to sit fine with the Egyptian leadership, as long as he continues to bombard its arch-enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood.

There have been numerous missed opportunities since the beginning of the conflict in 2011 but as time passes, the stakes get higher and the terrain becomes more complex.

What can the outside world, and the West, do to stop Libya’s disintegration and ward off potentially disastrous consequences? First, somehow the money tap that’s financing the fighting must be turned off. Miraculously, a global fall in oil prices may be egging the various warring parties to do this all by themselves: The Western Libya Dawn militias, made good on threats to bomb Eastern oil-lifting ports by launching rockets at storage tanks at Es Sider the last week, making it official: Libya is now producing less oil than its current rate of consumption, and could soon be in desperate financial straits. All of this speaks to why UN Special Representative for Libya Leon Bernadino was able, briefly, to muster a reluctant agreement by “all sides” to come to the negotiating table. Much more, and more targeted pressure will be required to produce results. The UN, while it can and is playing a productive role, has limited influence on its own.

The West and the UN can take advantage of this externally and internally-inflicted financial squeeze by urgently drawing a thick red line around Libya’s $113 billion in foreign currency reserves and $60+ billion in sovereign wealth — perhaps by transferring the bulk to a UN-appointed international trustee, threatening to refer the most egregious criminal offenders to the International Criminal Court if a process of reconciliation is not evident within the next few weeks, or by pressuring the House of Representatives to clarify the command structure over the Libyan Army, showing Gen. Haftar the door if he refuses to fall in line. Under UN cover, the main militias must be instructed to disband, or face both sanction and military action. Those forces who decamp outside the main city perimeters, would be given protection and preferential access to national employment opportunities, such as paid positions and systematic, stepped-up selection and training for a widely-representative national guard. Large-scale industrial projects should be undertaken simultaneously, as joint Libyan-foreign-ventures, and scholarships offered for study inside (and outside) Libya, provided recipients can credibly commit to return to help rebuild the country. These may be the only projects for which Libya’s sovereign wealth could be applied.

This would be done in line with both hard pressure and heavy incentives to surrender weapons — as well as UN-. sanctioned strikes on arms depots belonging to any party that refuses to disband. A national referendum needs to be held quickly, hopefully to close ranks around the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, and an amnesty granted to those who may have violated UN Security Council Resolution 2174, all in the context of a campaign to induce national reconciliation, and a completion of the constitution building process.

Many in the West will inevitably say it’s too all complicated and costly. But the consequences of not taking this action are potentially staggering, and involve Libya’s becoming a force multiplier for every extremist group in the region, from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to ISIS, and the destabilization of much of North Africa, whose future rests on containing the extremist threat. If the specter of more and more radicals armed with shoulder-fired missiles capable of downing jets at altitude (which happened with Malaysia Airlines flight #17 last year) does not scare the West — it really should.

Ethan Chorin is author of Exit the Colonel: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution (PublicAffairs, 2012), and Translating Libya (2014), and is CEO of Perim Associates, LLC. Monem Alyaser, a Silicon Valley Clean-tech entrepreneur, was elected to Libya’s General National Congress in 2012, where he was an advocate for accelerated local economic development, and introduced a platform for decentralized government, stabilization, reconciliation and disarmament.

The Shi’a Sickle (Daniel 8:8)

Powerful New Iraqi Militia Has Deep Ties to Tehran
Shia sickle
by TheTower.org Staff | 01.07.15 6:03 pm

Kataib al-Imam Ali, an Iraqi Shiite militia with strong ties to Iran, is headed by a terrorist with a long record of attacking American interests according to terrorism experts Matthew Levitt and Phillip Smyth in a paper published by the Washington Institute of Near East Policy on Monday.

Levitt and Smyth write that Kataib al-Imam Ali “burst onto the scene with uniformed and well-armed members,” and that some of its members “posed in videos with the severed heads of their slain enemies.” They also report about the group’s leadership.

Shebl al-Zaidi, the secretary-general of Kataib al-Imam Ali, was once a noted figure in Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army — and reportedly one of its more vicious sectarian leaders. He was jailed during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, only to be released by the Iraqi government in 2010. Last summer, as Kataib al-Imam Ali became more established after its June debut, Zaidi was photographed with Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. The group also appears to have strong links with the Iraqi government; in August and September, it published pictures of Zaidi riding in an Iraqi army helicopter and one of the militia’s field commanders, Abu Azrael, manning a different helicopter’s machine gun.
\
However, another IRGC-linked leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, appears to head Kataib al-Imam Ali’s operations and expansion efforts, and his presence explains the group’s meteoric growth. Wearing patches belonging to the militia and shown in a number of photos embracing Zaidi, Muhandis is a commander with considerable experience in building new extremist Shiite groups — and a long history of attacks against Americans and American interests.

Levitt and Smyth write that, in the 1990’s, Muhandis “had Iranian citizenship, and […] became an advisor to Qods Force commander Soleimani.” He emerged as one of the “key Shiite militant leaders” fighting American and coalition forces after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
In 2007, Muhandis formed Kataib Hezbollah (“Hezbollah brigades” or KH) and his group received “more sophisticated training and sensitive equipment than all other Iranian proxies in Iraq.” KH worked closely with its Lebanese namesake and also sent fighters to Syria in support of the Assad regime.

According to Levitt and Smyth, Iran’s goal in creating multiple militias under its control is “to diversify its political and military portfolio in Iraq” with the goal to “slowly impart and legitimize its ideology and power within Iraq.”

Iran’s control of the Shiite militias in Iraq is one of the ways it continues to destabilize the Middle East and spread its influence across the region.

David Daoud summed up Iran’s tactics in Is ISIS Distracting Us from a More Serious Iranian Threat?, which was published in the November 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine:

Iran’s use of terrorism is ideological, but it is not only that. It is also used to achieve very specific goals: To further foreign policy ambitions, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East that Iran can exploit to its benefit. Over the past decade, Iran has increased its international terrorist activities and sponsorship, providing financial and military support to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East and Asia. Via IRGC-QF and Hezbollah, for example, it provided training in IED manufacturing and the use of advanced weaponry to Iraqi Shi’a militias targeting American forces. In another case, it plotted the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. Iran has also increased its presence in Africa, destabilized Bahrain, and sown chaos in Yemen through its Houthi proxies.

Pakistan: The New Nuclear Terrorist Threat

In Pakistan, domestic threats begin to overshadow India

Pakistan's Nuclear Terrorism

Pakistan’s Nuclear Terrorism

By Yelena Biberman January 6 at 8:30 AM

The Peshawar school massacre has sparked unprecedented societal and political mobilization against terrorism in Pakistan. From televised debates to private conversations, there is now an unmistakable demand for policy reorientation toward domestic sources of insecurity. However, three big questions remain: Is India still the main enemy? Is Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the perpetrator of the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan’s history, the only domestic militant group threatening Pakistani security? What will replace TTP in the unstable tribal region bordering Afghanistan?

For more than three generations, Pakistan’s security policy and the dominant national narrative have positioned India as the primary and existential threat to Pakistan. The two countries fought four wars (in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999), with the last in the shadow of nuclear missiles. Pakistan’s army built up its capacity in response to India’s military power at the expense of the country’s economic development. The very idea of Pakistan is tied to the perception that India is a dangerous place for Muslims.

The Peshawar massacre offers India and Pakistan an opportunity to recast their relationship. Following the attack, Indian schools across the country and the parliament observed silence for the victims, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out in a 12-minute phone conversation to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Nevertheless, many Pakistanis remain skeptical about the recently elected Hindu nationalist leader. They cite periodic confrontations along the Line of Control, which separates Pakistan- and India-controlled parts of Kashmir. Modi’s cancelation of August talks between the two countries’ foreign secretaries, in response to a meeting between Pakistan’s envoy in New Delhi and Kashmiri separatist leaders, also made a strong impression. Reimagining Islamist militants, and not Hindu nationalist-controlled India, as the chief threat to Pakistan after nearly 70 years of animosity between the two states is a tough sell.

Pakistan also has had a special connection to the Taliban. The latter has ostensibly allowed the former to maintain “strategic depth” in Afghanistan against India during the 1990s, after the United States withdrew from the region. The strategic depth doctrine hinges on the calculation that, in case of an enemy offensive, Pakistani military commanders would have space to withdraw, regroup and respond. After the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI) secretly sheltered and provided logistical support to the (Afghan) Taliban. Some of the local Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen, who spent years in the company and service of the Taliban or al-Qaeda, became radicalized. In 2007, following the Pakistani forces’ bold Lal Masjid confrontation with the Islamists, the latter joined forces under the TTP banner. The TTP’s stated goal is to oppose the NATO forces in Afghanistan and wage a defensive jihad against the Pakistani forces. However, the TTP’s active involvement in organized crime (e.g. bank robberies, kidnapping for ransom and smuggling) makes it more a criminal than an insurgent outfit. Destroying the TTP will require not only a military, but also a law enforcement solution. In addition to its involvement in organized crime, the TTP has made large investments in Karachi-based businesses.

The TTP represents the blowback effect from Pakistan’s “proxy-fication” of the Taliban. However, it is unlikely that the lesson from the Taliban will be applied to the no less powerful Kashmir-oriented militant outfits. Organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are still largely viewed as the “good” jihadis. This is because, as one insider explained, they have not yet done anything against the Pakistani state. They are oriented against India. Lashkar-e-Taiba is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which were no less traumatic for India as was the Peshawar massacre for Pakistan. Lashkar’s sprawling compound is near Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital. Pakistanis often cite the United States’ extensive use of proxies. However, unlike the United States, Pakistan has employed proxies either inside or dangerously close to the country’s borders. Playing with fire so close to one’s home is far more hazardous than in someone else’s neighborhood. Or, as Hillary Clinton put it, “you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.” Significant gains over domestic terrorist organizations will require a more comprehensive and sober approach, one that applies to proxies the same realpolitik foresight usually reserved for other countries.

Finally, there is the question of what will replace the TTP in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been by and large neglected since the British colonial period. The current military crackdown on the TTP needs to be complemented with long-overdue “state-building” measures. If Pakistan does not significantly invest in the governance and economic development of the region, grievances will continue to deepen and multiply. The region will then serve as an even more fertile ground for terrorist organizations.