New US base on the Afghan border with Pakistan

Asia Times:

Another piece of the United States' regional jigsaw is in place with the completion of a military base in Afghanistan's Kunar province, just three kilometers from Bajaur Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Pakistani intelligence quarters have confirmed to Asia Times Online that the base, on a mountain top in Ghakhi Pass overlooking Pakistan, is now operational. (This correspondent visited the area last July and could clearly see construction underway. See A fight to the death on Pakistan's border Asia Times Online, July 17, 2007.)

The new US base is expected to serve as the center of clandestine special forces' operations in the border region. The George W Bush administration is itching to take more positive action - including inside Pakistan - against Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda militants increasingly active in the area and bolstering the insurgency in Afghanistan.

...

A senior Pakistani security official explained to Asia Times Online, "American special forces have carried out clandestine operations in the past, and Pakistan was not informed. The Taliban and al-Qaeda also did not realize what was happening with the quick-as-a-wink hit-and-run operations in the tribal areas. Pakistani intelligence only knew of the operations after they happened. They included the killing of high-value Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders and high-value arrests," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"However, with the new Kunar base, American special forces will carry out extended operations, which means a limited war against Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in the tribal areas. These clandestine operations can be done with or without Pakistan's consent."

In response, the initial militant action is expected to be the relocation of its key leadership away from the immediate danger area. Efforts to disrupt the vital supply lines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)from Pakistan into Afghanistan will be stepped up. A further option is to increase terror operations inside Pakistan as a warning that the militants should be left alone.

The Taliban leadership is aware of the danger posed by the new American base. Several powerful attacks were mounted while it was under construction, but they only managed to cause delays.

The pressing problem is to find a new safe haven for the high profile al-Qaeda leadership. The area on both sides of the border - the Chitral - is characterized by inhospitable jungles and mazes of mountains and rivers, stretching from Noorestan and Kunar provinces in Afghanistan to the Bajaur Valley. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is known to have stayed in the area. It is now a question of finding a safer location for him - if he is still in the area - and his colleagues.

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Clearly, the militants, linked to a particular branch of al-Qaeda called the Tafkiris, are preparing for an Iraq-style guerrilla battle against Pakistan. The Tafkiris - who class as infidels all non-practicing Muslims - include Tahir Yuldashev, leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Sheikh Essa, Pakistani Baitullah Mehsud and some factions of banned Pakistani militant organizations.

The overriding objective of the Tafkiris goes beyond simple terror attacks. They aim to force Islamabad to either follow their dictates or become ensnared in the conflict against NATO....

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The base sounds like a special forces patrol base for operations along the border and in Pakistan. I think the writer has it about right on the what you don't know want hurt you basis for operations. The attacks on NATO supply lines have stepped up in recent weeks. I expect that more UAV assets will be used to detect and destroy Taliban ambushes along the main supply route.

The writer's description of enemy leadership hideouts sounds pretty specific. Hopefully the new base will allow access to these camps before they get away. Getting them in motion will also assist in their capture. They are most vulnerable while on the move.

The Tafkiras sound like just another branch of the Islamist supremacy movements that al Qaeda is a part of. They are based on the old Egyptian Brotherhood movement which wants to destroy all who are not Muslims anywhere in the world.

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