Today in CO-IN

Today marks the beginning of an irregular feature called Today in CO-IN. Each feature we'll examine an event or trend in the Mideast and how Counter-Insurgency theory can help us understand what's going on, and what happens next.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is Al Qaeda trying open a new front?

An Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan denies involvement in the killing of Benazir Bhutto, but, they (or -Qeada affiliated groups)clearly are involved in the wave of violence following her death. With Today's latest bombing in Lahore, and similar attacks recently what could Al Qaeda be trying to achieve?

Let's start by taking a look at the environments in which terrorists thrive. In any insurgency (I'm not mincing words here: any insurgency is by nature a terrorist operation) legitimacy is the goal. The organization (in our case Al Qeada or an affiliated group) must be seen by the populace as having a claim to the throne, as it were. Often this is simply by appearing to the populace as being simply "less bad" than the government. Often this done by providing social services, jobs, and perceived security. In contrast to Iraq before very recently, and Afghanistan, this does not seem to be the modus operandi in Pakistan. This could suggest separate leadership from that of Al Qaeda forces in neighboring Afghanistan. At any rate, what does seem to be happening is the simple pointing out of inadequacies of the central government. Such inadequacies might range from failure to provide security, to corruption and involvement or complicity in Bhutto's assassination, whether real or perceived.

However, any Al Qaeda in Pakistan must walk a very fine line in achieving their goal of destabilization. Already there is increasing pressure for Coalition forces in Afghanistan to be at least allowed into Wazirastan, which due to the porous border and lack of central government presence, functions as haven for both taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The other major problem for destabilizing factions is the fact that inescapable fact that Pakistan is a nuclear power, and the West cannot allow such a country to fall to internal or external, but stateless forces. The US, certainly, and likely Britain would be forced to intervene directly. So, what do these facts of life mean for any anti-government forces in Pakistan? Their goal will be to slowly increase attacks, while pointing to complicity in the death of Bhutto on the government's part. More importantly, they must keep this of out of the public eye outside of Pakistan as much as possible, by avoiding high body count bombings, attacks on prominant targets, or directly targeting security forces or the central government itself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

More Marines for Afghanistan?

Late the 4th quarter last year, a Marine Corps proposal to take over the majority of combat ops in Afghanistan was rejected by Bob Gates, but not without some significant debate in the military. However, according to the Pentagon, CENTCOM has made a request for approximately 3000 Marines to reinforce NATO forces ahead of the spring offensive. Traditionally, spring has brought increased fighting in war-torn Afghanistan, because this is almost the only season when the weather is consistently favorable and temperatures are less extreme.
Any Marines headed to Afghanistan would be there for a one-time deployment and would not be replaced after their 7 month rotation is up. Word is 24th MEU might be preparing to head there instead of deploying with the Nassau Strike Group as planned, however nothing is planned and neither a deployment order or warning order has been received by the Camp Lejuene based MEU.

Full Story from Army Times

Listening to: Alice In Chains - Rooster
via FoxyTunes

$3 QUADRILLION? Are you sure?

Katrina victims have filed suit against the federal government for failed levees and flood walls during the 05 hurricane. Among the claims: one for $3 Quadrillion. Thats $3,000,000,000,000,000. By comparison the entire US GDP is a measly $13.13 Trillion. In fact this single claim is worth more than all other claims COMBINED! However, it may not be as illogical as it appears, "...[I]t's a negotiating tactic: Aim high and negotiate down." comments Loren Scott, an economist from Baton Rouge. Oh, its only a negotiating tactic, thank God.

Execution video

The Pentagon released video today of an execution in Diyala province, Iraq. The video was taken by a UAV. It seems they want you know how the CLC's (Concerned Local Citizens group, functions as a local, citizen run, armed militia, supported by coalition forces) are being intimidated.


Technorati Profile

Listening to: Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (The Bottom)
via FoxyTunes

Another Race?

Just saw a headline on CNN "THE NEW RACE AFTER NEW HAMPSHIRE". Wait, wasn't it a brand new race after Iowa? That makes this the 3rd Presidential race this year alone. Are we going for some kind of record here? i don't usually expect much from CNN, but this is a new level of mediocrity. No, maybe its mediacrity.

Listening to: Daft Punk - Da Funk
via FoxyTunes

Morning News

Mccain, Clinton Win NH Primaries. Both staging astounding comebacks. Clinton's comeback totally surprised everyone, apparently even, the former First Lady herself. read more at CNN
President Bush is in Isreal today, pushing for progress in the currently stagnant Mid-East Peace Process. Is this just too little to late though? This AP article says it best.
Small earthquake in Ohio... No biggie.

Listening to: Pearl Jam - Alive
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Not all results are in yet, but it looks Hillary pulled a fast one on us. She's ahead right now. Damn. On the GOP side of things, Mccain has made a strong showing. But can he do it anywhere else? Aside from Arizona, I mean; that seems like given. 'Course if I've learned anything from this election, its that NOTHING is a given. Obama gave a great speech, in which he formally congratulated the devil erm, Hillary on her victory.
About 80% of precincts are reporting.

Realtime results can be found at CNN.

Monday, January 7, 2008

"Redneck Iranians"

Today, 3 US Navy warships, guided missile destroyer USS Hopper, Guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal, and guided-missile frigate USS Ingraham were harrassed, threatened and provoked by 3 Iranian fast boats as they entered the strait of Hormuz. One of the Iranian boats came within 200 yards of one US ship. An Iranian spokesman called the event "ordinary", and seemed to imply that the US ships failed to respond when asked to identify themselves. It is still unclear whether or not this is true. I'm inclined to take it as reckless speculation, best case scenario. At worst its a deliberate attempt to fault the US for the confrontation. At any rate, one Iranian boat made the following radio transmission, "I am coming at you, and you will explode in a couple of minutes". At this point, The US vessels guns were manned and the order to fire was in the process of being given, when the Iranian craft abruptly turned and sped away, dropping white boxes into the path of one US vessel. It is still unclear what the white boxes were. During the incident, which lasted about 30 minutes, no shots were fired and no one was injured.

The Iranian fast boats were all operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a seperate branch of the Iranian military that has been taken over for Iranian naval action since November, according to the US. The IRGC tends to act in a much more hostile manner towards US vessels, compared to the Iranian navy, remark informed military sources.

The Pentagon has characterized the incident as "careless, reckless and potentially hostile" and has said an explanation is in order. The US responded with further rhetoric, with Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon Press Secretary saying "Such actions are dangerous and could have quickly escalated into something much worse,". A Pentagon spokesman also calling the event "perplexing" adding that this is a "real cause for concern".


What's the deal with the white boxes? Could they be meant to be taken as mines, in order to gauge the response to such a situation? Might they actually be some sort of improvised mine? I don't know, and neither country has offered any explanation.

The other Major question is why now? Actions like this can only further complicate US-Iranian relations, which while currently almost nonexistent, except for acidic rhetoric, recently received a boost. The latest NIE essentially lets Iran off the hook since 2003 in regards to nuclear activities. the only explanation to this that I've found is the logical assumption that someone, presumably a hardliner in the IRGC wants to further destabilize relations between the US and Iran. However whom, and whether this actually was the intended consequence remains a mystery.

CNN's story
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