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JFP 3/16: Karzai demands US pullback; Taliban break off peace talks; Diplomacy Needs a Win
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 16 March 2012 - 12:51pm
Just Foreign Policy News, March 16, 2012
Karzai demands US pullback; Taliban break off peace talks; Diplomacy Needs a Win
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Nouriel Roubini: "I strongly support the candidacy of Jeffrey Sachs for the Presidency of the World Bank"
Professor of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University, Roubini says: "The Bank has many deep structural problems and only modest financial resources relative to the scale of the development tasks. The Bank therefore needs someone at the top who will inspire the professional staff and who can help mobilize large private-sector flows alongside existing resources, in order to fight diseases, grow more food, make economies resilient to climate shocks, and build a twenty-first century infrastructure. Sachs can do these things better than anyone I can think of."
Drone Summit in Washington, DC, April 28, 2012
Drone-strike victims, human rights advocates, robotics technology experts, journalists and activists gather for a summit on Saturday, April 28 to inform the public about the widespread and rapidly expanding deployment of both killer and surveillance drones. Cosponsored by CODEPINK, Reprieve, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
1) President Karzai demanded Thursday that the U.S. pull back from combat outposts and confine its troops to military bases in Afghanistan, an apparent response to Sunday's shooting rampage by a U.S. staff sergeant, the Washington Post reports. Karzai said Afghan troops should assume primary responsibility for security by the end of next year, ahead of the time frame U.S. commanders have endorsed.
The Taliban said it was suspending preliminary peace talks with the U.S. because of Washington's "alternating and ever-changing position," and accused U.S. officials of reneging on promises to take meaningful steps toward a prisoner swap. U.S. officials said their position has been unchanged since talks began - that the prisoner exchange must be preceded by a Taliban statement supporting the political process in Afghanistan and renouncing international terrorism.
The Taliban implied that it would be willing to restart talks if and when the "Americans clarify their stance on the issues concerned and . . . show willingness in carrying out promises instead of wasting time." In Washington, a senior administration official described Taliban statement as "piling on" amid strained relations between the U.S. and the Karzai government. "They see an opportunity here," said the official. "This is a normal part of negotiating."
2) The Taliban statement that they were suspending talks with the U.S. followed within minutes Karzai's demand that the U.S. withdraw troops from Afghan villages, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some analysts speculated that Karzai made the statement as a bet to strengthen his hand in negotiations with the U.S. over a strategic partnership agreement [where negotiations are stalled over the Afghan demand that the U.S. end night raids - JFP.]
3) Republicans received joyous news Monday in the form of the Washington Post poll that showed Obama's numbers sinking in inverse proportion to rising gas prices, writes Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast. Experts blame a lot of the increase on fervid speculation in the oil markets, and a chief reason for a lot of that speculation is anxiety in those markets about a possible war with Iran. That anxiety is heightened every time a politician blusters about how we have no choice now but to go start that war. So this kind of rhetoric is a nice little two-fer for Republicans, who get to sound like tough guys and can also take comfort in knowing that the more they talk up attacking Iran, the more they're doing their small part to keep prices high.
4) The U.S. needs a clear road map to show allies and the U.S. people how serious and sustained talks with Iran can bear fruit, writes former Obama Administration official Vali Nasr for Bloomberg.
The president stood his ground to get the pressure-and-talk strategy back on track against Israel and Republican critics who said it was time to go to war. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed Obama's defense of diplomacy, describing the U.S. president's talk of a window of opportunity as "good words." He also repeated his 1995 fatwa that building nuclear weapons is a "great sin," Nasr notes.
There is a window for negotiations, but it is narrow, Nasr argues. Obama's critics will look for the slightest opening to dismiss diplomacy as having failed and again push for war. Doing so would have the added benefit for them of potentially driving up oil prices at the cost of the fragile U.S. economic recovery, on which the outcome of the election hinges. There must be tangible gains to protect diplomacy from politics, Nasr argues.
5) Washington is not ready for democracy in Haiti, writes Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian. Washington wasn't ready for democracy when it overthrew President Aristide twice. Now the Miami Herald reports that Aristide is "once again in the cross-hairs of the US government," as the U.S. once again seeks to smear Aristide with dubious legal charges.
6) The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the Guardian reports. UN special rapporteur Juan Mendez told the Guardian that he could not reach a definitive conclusion on whether Manning had been tortured because he has been denied permission by the US military to interview Manning privately.
7) Pakistan has told the White House it no longer will permit U.S. drones to use its airspace to attack militants, Bloomberg reports. The only chance for a compromise, Pakistani officials said, may be if the U.S. agrees to share intelligence and coordinate strikes first. But the U.S. has long resisted this demand.
1) Karzai demands U.S. troops leave village outposts; Taliban suspends peace talks with U.S.
Ernesto Londoño and Greg Jaffe, Washington Post, Thursday, March 15, 2:02 PM
Kabul - President Hamid Karzai demanded Thursday that the United States pull back from combat outposts and confine its troops to military bases in Afghanistan, an apparent response to Sunday's shooting rampage by a U.S. staff sergeant.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said it was suspending preliminary peace talks with the United States because of Washington's "alternating and ever-changing position," and accused U.S. officials of reneging on promises to take meaningful steps toward a prisoner swap.
Tension between the United States and Afghanistan soared last month after the burning of Korans by U.S. troops set off a wave of violent protests and retaliatory killings. Support for the war is slipping among Americans as well as Afghans. Sunday's massacre of 16 civilians - and the transfer of the staff sergeant believed to be responsible to a U.S. base in Kuwait to await prosecution - further outraged the Afghan people.
The killings "damaged the U.S. and Afghan relationship," Karzai's office said. He said foreign troops must withdraw from village outposts and return to large NATO bases, and Afghan troops should assume primary responsibility for security by the end of next year--ahead of the time frame U.S. commanders have endorsed.
Karzai does not have the authority to enforce a pullback of foreign troops, however. And the United States has rebuffed previous demands that it halt night raids, ban private security companies and immediately transfer control of prisons to the Afghan government.
U.S. military officials tout the night raids on the homes of suspected militants, conducted by U.S. and Afghan Special Operations Forces, as essential to defeating the Taliban insurgency. Karzai has complained that the raids cause too many civilian casualties.
The Afghan government hopes the issue can be resolved through a memorandum of understanding, similar to a recent agreement that laid out the terms for the gradual transfer of U.S.-held detainees to Afghan custody. Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said the government is insisting that foreign troops be barred from entering Afghan homes and that soldiers obtain search warrants before storming the houses of suspected insurgents.
Earlier, Maj. Gen. Mark Gurganus, the senior Marine commander in southern Afghanistan, said further restrictions on night raids may not be possible. "I don't know how much more accommodating we can be with what is a critical element of a counterinsurgency fight," Gurganus said.
The Taliban announcement included a statement that it would forgo opening a political office in Qatar, dashing already faint hopes about a negotiated settlement to the decade-long war.
The Taliban said that "the Americans initially agreed upon taking practical steps regarding the exchange of prisoners" and the opening of a Qatar office for the insurgents, but have since "turned their backs on their promises" and insisted on new conditions.
But U.S. officials said their position has been unchanged since talks began more than a year ago--that the prisoner exchange and formal establishment of the political office must be preceded by a Taliban statement supporting the political process in Afghanistan and renouncing international terrorism. The most recent, informal U.S.-Taliban meeting took place in Qatar in January, following a half-dozen meetings in 2011.
The administration has said that, once the Qatar office is formally open, the Afghan government will be brought into the talks. On Thursday, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasool was on a visit to Qatar, which the Afghan government saw as a potential breakthrough in asserting a role for the Karzai administration.
But the Taliban statement repeated the group's intention to negotiate only with the "American invaders." The group said Karzai "cannot even make a single political decision without the prior consent of the Americans" and called negotiating with Karzai's government "pointless."
The Obama administration has been contemplating releasing five Taliban members held in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, including four senior members of the militant group. The transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to a third country - in this case Qatar - would require congressional approval.
The Taliban's bargaining chip in the swap has been widely assumed to be a U.S. citizen being held by the insurgents.
The plan appears to have gained significant traction: U.S. officials recently allowed an Afghan government delegation access to the inmates in Guantanamo to ascertain that they were willing to relocate to the wealthy Gulf Emirate. The prisoners supported the plan, a spokesman for Karzai said.
The Taliban implied that it would be willing to restart talks if and when the "Americans clarify their stance on the issues concerned and . . . show willingness in carrying out promises instead of wasting time."
In Washington, a senior administration official described Taliban statement as "piling on" amid strained relations between the United States and the Karzai government. "They see an opportunity here," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This is a normal part of negotiating. These things happen, and you just have to kind of try your best to stay with your plan."
2) Karzai Calls for U.S. Troop Pullback
Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2012, 2:13 p.m. ET
Kabul - Afghan President Hamid Karzai requested the U.S.-led coalition withdraw its troops from Afghan villages and to confine them to bases following a shooting rampage allegedly by a U.S. staff sergeant on Sunday, the presidential palace said, in a move that could significantly change the outlook for the war.
The demand, which Mr. Karzai's office said was made during a meeting on Thursday with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, would-if accepted-essentially end the U.S. combat role just as the annual Taliban spring offensive begins. There are now some 90,000 U.S. troops in the country.
Within minutes of Mr. Karzai's statement, the Taliban also declared they are suspending their negotiations with the U.S. because the U.S. "turned back on its promises," such as the release of Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mr. Karzai's surprise demand was greeted with shock by some Afghan politicians.
While the Taliban left the door open to resuming the dialogue, Mr. Karzai's move had potentially more far-reaching ramifications. "Not a single foreign soldier should enter Afghan homes, and the entire attention should switch to the country's reconstruction and economic assistance," the Afghan president's statement said.
Some analysts speculated that Mr. Karzai made the statement as a bet to strengthen his hand in negotiations with the U.S. over a strategic partnership agreement.
3) Michael Tomasky on GOP Plans to Sink the Economy
Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast, Mar 13, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
Every month brings improved job news-and bleaker prospects for the Republicans in November. Which is why they're contemplating economic sabotage as their only hope.
We're just under eight months away from Election Day now, which means that the GOP is starting to run out of time to think up new ways to ruin the economy so that Barack Obama doesn't get reelected. The Republicans have to do this delicately, of course; they can't be open about it lest it become too obvious that harming the economy is their goal. But they have to be aggressive enough about it for their efforts to bear some actual (rotten) fruit. There are three fronts-gas prices, jobs, and the budget-on which we should keep our eyes open for signs that the Republicans are trying to achieve Mitch McConnell's No. 1 goal for America.
Let's take them in order. The Republicans received joyous news Monday in the form of the Washington Post poll that showed Obama's numbers sinking in inverse proportion to rising gas prices.
No one can blame Republicans for using Obama as a piñata on the issue. But here's what they can be blamed for. What is causing these high prices? Not low supply and high demand, which is what they teach you in school. In fact, supply is high-domestic oil production is at its highest point in years, higher under this allegedly business-hating president than under oilmen Bush and Cheney. And demand has been low because of the economy, although it's now picking up.
No, experts blame a lot of the increase on fervid speculation in the oil markets, and a chief reason for a lot of that speculation is anxiety in those markets about a possible war with Iran. Said anxiety, in turn, is heightened every time a politician blusters about how we have no choice now but to go start that war. So this kind of rhetoric is a nice little two-fer for Republicans, who get to sound like tough guys and can also take comfort in knowing that the more they talk up attacking Iran, the more they're doing their small part to keep prices high.
4) Obama Needs to Go the Whole Mile on Iran Diplomacy
Vali Nasr, Bloomberg, March 13, 2012, 7:00 PM ET
[Nasr is a professor of international politics at Tufts and a senior fellow at Brookings. Between 2009 and 2011 he served in the Obama Administration as Senior Advisor to U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Holbrooke.]
Last week, President Barack Obama skillfully shifted the debate on Iran, pushing back against "idle talk of war" and making the case for diplomacy.
To make it work, the U.S. now needs a clear road map to show allies and the American people how serious and sustained talks with Iran can bear fruit.
Since November, the administration's policy of applying pressure to compel Iran to negotiate has rushed instead toward conflict. A worrying International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's nuclear activity in that month prompted a new round of crippling sanctions against Iran's central bank and oil industry. Iran responded by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz and cut off oil sales to parts of Europe. Israel and the U.S. administration's Republican critics concluded that the one- two punch of sanctions and talks wasn't working, and it was time to go to war.
The president stood his ground to get the pressure-and-talk strategy back on track, and there are some hopeful signs that he did the right thing. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed Obama's defense of diplomacy, describing the U.S. president's talk of a window of opportunity as "good words." He also repeated his 1995 fatwa that building nuclear weapons is a "great sin."
This was meant as a clear signal to the international community that Iran would not cross Obama's red line. Equally important, Khamenei's intervention put an end to talk inside Iran that the country should now build nuclear weapons to protect itself against further Western pressure and any potential military attack. The fatwa and a straightforward letter from Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, declaring Iran's readiness to resume talks has given the U.S. administration hope that this time, diplomacy may succeed.
But the window for negotiations is narrow. Whatever Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have agreed to in his recent meeting with the U.S. president, in public he offered no endorsement of diplomacy. Obama's critics on the right will look for the slightest opening to dismiss diplomacy as having failed and again push for war. Doing so would have the added benefit for them of potentially driving up oil prices at the cost of the fragile U.S. economic recovery, on which the outcome of the election hinges. Obama can protect diplomacy from politics, but only if he sees tangible gains early on.
Iranian leaders look eager to give Obama enough to keep the hawks at bay. They also fear, however, that if they concede too much too early, officials in Washington may conclude that what works isn't diplomacy but pressure, and so they would be inclined to pile more of it on.
Dennis Ross, who oversaw Obama's Iran policy until late last year acknowledges a U.S. endgame in which "Iran can have civilian nuclear power, but it must not have nuclear weapons." If the supreme leader's fatwa is any guide, Iran would be fine with such an outcome, but only if the U.S. and its allies are willing to accept Iran's right to enrich nuclear fuel. To get from where we are to that point, talks would have to follow a road map that makes clear the sequence of issues to be discussed and agreements to be reached in building toward a mutually acceptable result. Without such a road map, the U.S. will end up relying on pressure, triggering Iranian obduracy -- and we will be back where we started.
Iran has already agreed to the Russian proposal, according to which Iran would address concerns of the international community one by one, each time in exchange for the lifting of a sanction. Iran's leadership is interested in the idea, because it protects them from a scenario in which Iran is expected to make all the concessions upfront and is promised the benefits at the end. Iran would see this as a trap.
The U.S. has rejected the "step-by-step" approach because small concessions are reversible. As sanctions are lifted, Iran might feel less compelled to provide further concessions. In effect, such a piecemeal process would go only so far and then collapse under the weight of its own success.
Even so, there has to be credible reciprocity to build trust and create momentum in the talks. Trading a temporary freeze on uranium enrichment for a temporary freeze on oil sanctions serves as a useful first step. But with the full weight of sanctions yet to bear on Iran, the U.S. has the greatest leverage right now. It should use it to get Iran to talk about big concessions in exchange for meaningful reductions in sanctions.
Officials in Washington would like Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent level and to hand over its stockpiles of 20 percent enriched uranium. Instead, Iran would buy the fuel rods it needs for medical isotopes from abroad. In exchange, Iran's right to enrich uranium up to 3 percent to 5 percent should be formally recognized -- that would be sufficient for a civilian nuclear-power program, but not for bomb making. Iran should also agree to intrusive international inspections and implement the IAEA's Additional Protocol, giving the U.S. and its allies a measure of confidence that Iran isn't working its centrifuges overtime to create weapons-grade fuel.
The U.S. and its European allies, for their part, would need to be ready to lift significant sanctions. The U.S., separately, must be open to starting bilateral talks with Iran about regional security and the future of U.S.-Iran relations. Iran's perception of opportunity and threat in its neighborhood is the principal reason it has invested its national security in the pursuit of nuclear capability.
How Iran has acted in the region is also a big reason why U.S. sees Iran's nuclear program as a threat to peace and security in the Middle East. But Iran will not drop its nuclear ambitions unless it feels secure in the region. That is something the U.S. can address, and it is why talking to Iran about its nuclear program cannot be divorced from a broader conversation about regional security.
5) America's subversion of Haiti's democracy continues
Even though former President Aristide has eschewed politics since his return from exile, the US is still threatening him
Mark Weisbrot, Guardian, Tuesday 13 March 2012 13.16 EDT
When the "international community" blames Haiti for its political troubles, the underlying concept is usually that Haitians are not ready for democracy. But it is Washington that is not ready for democracy in Haiti.
Haitians have been ready for democracy for many decades. They were ready when they got massacred at polling stations, trying to vote in 1987, after the fall of the murderous Duvalier dictatorship. They were ready again in 1990, when they voted by a two-thirds majority for the leftist Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, only to see him overthrown seven months later in a military coup. The coup was later found to have been organized by people paid by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
Haitians were ready again, in 2000, when they elected Aristide a second time with 90% of the vote. But Washington would not accept the results of that election either, so it organized a cut-off of international aid to the government and poured millions into the opposition. As Paul Farmer (Bill Clinton's deputy special envoy of the UN to Haiti) testified to the US Congress in 2010:
"Choking off assistance for development and for the provision of basic services also choked off oxygen to the government, which was the intention all along: to dislodge the Aristide administration."
In 2004, Aristide was whisked away in one of those planes that the US government has used for "extraordinary rendition", and taken involuntarily to the Central African Republic.
Eight years later, the US government is still not ready for democracy in Haiti. On 3 March, the Miami Herald reported that "Former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is once again in the cross-hairs of the US government, this time for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars in bribes from Miami businesses …" Everything about these latest allegations smells foul, like the outhouses that haven't been cleaned for months in some of the camps where hundreds of thousands of Haitians displaced by the earthquake still languish.
First, the source: Patrick Joseph was the head of Haiti's national telecommunications company (Teleco) until he was fired by then President Aristide for corruption in 2003. Fast forward nine years: last month, Joseph negotiates a guilty plea with US federal prosecutors for accepting $2.3m in bribes from US companies. As part of his co-operation deal, he agrees to testify and tells them that about half the money was for President Aristide. How convenient. That should knock a few years off his prison time.
Then, there is the timing of the new charges. The first indictment in this case, in 2009, doesn't mention Aristide or anyone who could be him. The same is true for the second indictment, in July 2011, which added Patrick Joseph. But the January 2012 indictment mentions an unidentified "Official B" of the Haitian government; and now, we are told that "Official B", according to one of the defense attorneys in the case, is Aristide. How would he know? Officially, the US Justice Department has no comment on the matter, but seems the likely source for reports identifying Aristide.
Why now? Aristide has been very quiet and has stayed out of politics since his return to Haiti, a year ago. He has focused on the University of the Aristide Foundation; closed since the 2004 coup, the medical school was able to reopen this past fall. But he still has the biggest base of any political figure in the country, and remains the only really popular, democratically elected leader Haiti has ever had.
His party, Fanmi Lavalas, is still the most popular political party. Although it was wracked by political divisions while Aristide was in exile, it has reportedly become more unified since he has returned. Demonstrations on the eight-year anniversary of the 2004 coup – two weeks ago – drew thousands into the streets. "The display of popular support for Aristide is very worrisome to the US, so indicting Titid [Aristide] before a potential comeback makes perfect sense," Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia, told the Miami Herald.
It makes even more sense if you look at what the US government – in collaboration with UN officials and other allies – has been doing to Aristide since they organized the 2004 coup against him. A classified US document, leaked by WikiLeaks, reports on a meeting between the then top-ranking State Department official for the hemisphere (Thomas Shannon), and the head of the UN military mission in Haiti (Edmund Mulet), in 2006. It describes their efforts to keep Aristide in exile in South Africa. Mulet also "urged US legal action against Aristide to prevent the former president from gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti".
This latest episode is part of the "legal action" referred to in the document. So, too, were Washington's attempts to go after Aristide with trumped-up charges of involvement in drug-trafficking in 2004. These were also reliant on a convicted felon, a drug-dealer facing a long prison sentence. That case went nowhere, for the same reasons that this one will go nowhere: no evidence.
In a last-ditch, illegal effort to prevent Aristide from returning to his home country last year, President Obama called South African President Jacob Zuma to persuade him to keep Aristide there. He also lobbied UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, but to no avail.
The US government has spent millions, possibly tens of millions, of dollars trying to railroad Haiti's former president. On behalf of US taxpayers, we could use a congressional inquiry into this abuse of our tax dollars. It also erodes what we have left of an independent judiciary to have federal courts in Florida used as an instrument of foreign policy skullduggery.
In Haiti, these attempts to deny people democratic rights tend to lead to instability. Imagine trying to tell Brazilians that former president Lula da Silva could not participate in politics in Brazil, and threatening to prosecute him in US courts. Or doing the same to Evo Morales in Bolivia, or Rafael Correa in Ecuador. It would never be tolerated.
Yet, because Haitians are poor and black, Washington thinks it can get away trampling on their democratic rights. But too many Haitians have fought and died for these rights; they will not give them up so easily.
6) Bradley Manning's treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules
UN special rapporteur on torture's findings likely to reignite criticism of US government's treatment of WikiLeaks suspect
Ed Pilkington, Guardian, Monday 12 March 2012 09.41 EDT
New York - The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.
Juan Mendez has completed a 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning since the soldier's arrest at a US military base in May 2010. He concludes that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture.
"The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence," Mendez writes.
The findings of cruel and inhuman treatment are published as an addendum to the special rapporteur's report to the UN general assembly on the promotion and protection of human rights. They are likely to reignite criticism of the US government's harsh treatment of Manning ahead of his court martial later this year.
Mendez, who runs the UN office that investigates incidents of alleged torture around the world, told the Guardian: "I conclude that the 11 months under conditions of solitary confinement (regardless of the name given to his regime by the prison authorities) constitutes at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture. If the effects in regards to pain and suffering inflicted on Manning were more severe, they could constitute torture."
Mendez told the Guardian that he could not reach a definitive conclusion on whether Manning had been tortured because he has consistently been denied permission by the US military to interview the prisoner under acceptable circumstances.
The Pentagon has refused to allow Mendez to see Manning in private, insisting that all conversations must be monitored. "You should have no expectation of privacy in your communications with Private Manning," the Pentagon wrote.
The lack of privacy is a violation of human rights procedures, the UN says, and considered unacceptable by the UN special rapporteur.
Manning's travails in solitary confinement came to an end on April 20 2011 when he was transferred from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where he was held in more open conditions. He is currently being held in a facility in Virginia so that he can make frequent pre-trial appearances at Fort Meade in Maryland ahead of his eventual court martial.
7) Pakistan Ends Drone Strikes in Blow to U.S. War on Terror
Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Bloomberg, Mar 12, 2012 10:22 PM ET
Pakistan has told the White House it no longer will permit U.S. drones to use its airspace to attack militants and collect intelligence on al-Qaeda and other groups, according to officials involved in the talks.
Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, Sherry Rehman, met Vice President Joe Biden's national security adviser Antony Blinken on March 9 and told him that Pakistan's political parties have agreed that the drone flights over Pakistan must end, officials involved said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
Pakistan's sovereignty over its airspace and the civilian casualties that have resulted from drone strikes are emotional issues in Pakistan, where public opinion heavily favors terminating drone missions, Pakistani officials say.
The U.S. will try to reach an accommodation with Pakistani leaders, two American officials said. The U.S. gave Pakistan $4.4 billion in economic assistance, counterinsurgency funding and military reimbursements in 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The only chance for a compromise, Pakistani officials said, may be if the U.S. agrees to share intelligence and coordinate strikes first, a strategy Pakistan has long advocated. The U.S. has resisted giving information to Pakistan in advance because of fears that some in Pakistan's security forces might warn the targets of impending strikes.
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