Tag Archive: U.S. forces


Gunmen kill 8 in attack on minibus in Pakistan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110325/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan

By HUSSAIN AFZAL, Associated Press Hussain Afzal, Associated Press Fri Mar 25, 7:59 am ET

PARACHINAR, Pakistan – Gunmen attacked a minibus carrying mostly Shiite Muslims and killed eight people on Friday in a stretch of northwestern Pakistan that has seen a recent peace deal between rival Sunni and Shiite tribes, a government official said.

The gunmen who carried out the ambush in the Bagan area of the Kurram tribal region also kidnapped 18 people from the bus, said Javid Khan, a local administrator. The attack was the latest blow to the peace deal, which was meant to end a four-year conflict that cost hundreds of lives, but has failed to extinguish violence in the area.

The bus was attacked as it was traveling on the main road that runs through Kurram that connects the main town in the region, Parachinar, with Peshawar, the capital of nearby Khyber Pakhtunwkha province, said Khan.

Violence had kept the road closed until the peace deal was struck in February.

Five people were wounded in the attack, said Khan. The bus was mostly carrying people from the Toori tribe, one of the main Shiite tribes that struck the peace deal, he said.

A similar attack killed nine people in mid-March who were traveling on the road from Parachinar, a Shiite-dominated town.

It is unclear how the Shiite tribes will respond following Friday’s incident and whether the peace deal will be scrapped.

Tribesmen in Kurram have reported that the Haqqani network — a fiercely independent branch of the Afghan Taliban and a major enemy of U.S. and NATO forces — had helped cut the deal with the Shiites so it could use Kurram as a staging ground for fighting in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who adhere to a hard-line interpretation of Sunni Islam, have at times exploited sectarian and tribal feuds to spread their influence along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Also in the northwest, a roadside bomb struck a tribal police patrol in the Munda area of Lower Dir district, killing two policemen and wounding two others, police official Naveed Ahmed said Friday. The attack occurred overnight, he said.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110302/ts_yblog_thelookout/u-s-contemplates-military-options-as-libyan-unrest-continues

Muammar Gaddafi vowed to hang on to power in a speech Wednesday–and regime forces are reported to have made territorial gains, raising the prospect of a civil war in Libya. The United States is under increasing pressure to consider forceful action to avert a bloodbath in the country, from imposing a no-fly zone to setting up humanitarian corridors to protect civilians.

But Defense Secretary Bob Gates made clear Tuesday that, with 150,000 U.S. forces already deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq and unrest simmering from Algeria to Yemen, he’s reluctant to commit U.S. military forces elsewhere in the Middle East. However, the United States ordered the deployment this week of two Navy vessels, including the amphibious assault ship the Kearsarge, and 400 U.S. Marines toward Libya from the Persian Gulf.

“We also have to think about, frankly, the use of the U.S. military in another country in the Middle East,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday.

“If we move additional assets, what are the consequences of that for Afghanistan, for the Persian Gulf?” Gates said. “And what other allies are prepared to work with us in some of these things?”

Top U.S. military brass also warned Congress Tuesday that imposing a NATO no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from air attack by Gaddafi’s forces would be a far more complex endeavor than many appreciate. It would require first taking out Libya’s air defenses.

“So no illusions here,” CENTCOM Commander Gen. Jim Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It would be a military operation. It wouldn’t be just telling people not to fly airplanes.”

The latest Middle East crisis poses a key dilemma for the Obama administration, pitting humanitarian concerns against broader Middle East strategic considerations. The involvement of U.S. military forces even in an internationally led operation intended to avert atrocities against Libyan civilians could give a sharp anti-American cast to the anti-government unrest in the Middle East. But even as military advisers urge restraint, some in Congress and key humanitarian and pro-democracy advocates are urging the Obama administration to take more forceful measures to avert possible bloodshed.

Middle East experts note the Obama administration has already taken a number of steps in close consultation with international allies. Among these are the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning Libya on Saturday, the opening of an International Criminal Court investigation of Libyan war crimes, freezing $30 billion in Libyan assets in the United States on Sunday–and the symbolic measure voting Libya off the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

“I think a no-fly zone, targeted sanctions, and referral to [the International Criminal Court] are all realistic and appropriate,” said George Washington University Middle East expert Marc Lynch, who has consulted with the White House several times over the past month on both Egypt and Libya. “It’s extremely important to send a signal not just to Gaddafi but to all the other dictators in the region and world who might be tempted to use brutal violence against their people to stay in power that it’s not actually going to keep them in power.”

Experts said at this stage, the movement of U.S. naval power towards Libya was more about messaging than action–persuading Gaddafi loyalists that his downfall is imminent.

“They are sure hoping they don’t have to use them and that this thing will be over, everyone keeps hoping, before they have to take more drastic and costly measures,” said the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne, a former State Department and NSC official who has also been in frequent consultation with the White House.

Former State Department Middle East official Joel Rubin, now with the progressive National Security Network, says the real question for the United States is defining an end goal.

“On the practical level, defining the goal is essential,” Rubin said. “If we have learned anything from our recent experience of military adventures in the Arab world, it is that we have to have a clear and compelling goal that is achievable. And in the case of Libya, there are two goals … the first is humanitarian protection, and the second is removing Gaddafi.” Rubin said that a no-fly zone is the option that analysts are discussing most frequently on the humanitarian front.

But Rubin said even a no-fly zone will not be a panacea. “At this point, Gaddafi is strong because he has guns and money. By deploying a no fly zone … you attempt to reduce his guns, and by utilizing sanctions and asset freezes, you attempt to take away his money. Once those are both gone, yes he is beatable,” Rubin said. “But there’s no single magic bullet. There’s no shock and awe.”

(The United States amphibious assault ship USS Ponce sails through the Suez Canal at Ismailia , Egypt, Wednesday, March 2, 2011.: AP Photo)

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