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Archive for April, 2006

US-Iran, Israel, India and Pakistan

On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s took off from Etzion airbase near Eilat at 4:00 pm, at 5:35 pm, in an action lasting less than 80 seconds, the nuclear reactor at Osirik being built with French assistance was left in ruins. Osirik would have given Saddam Hussain an Iraqi bomb in less than 10 years. After the Osirik raid, nations, (among them India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, South Africa, etc) developing nuclear weapons through clandestine means dispersed their nuclear facilities and buried them deep in secret locations, making it all that much harder for an Osirik-type “solution”. On the other hand the development of Stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, precision-guided bombs, remotely-piloted aerial vehicles, extremely accurate GIS maps, etc gives a potential attacker numerous options, many of them already field-tested in battle in the last 15 years. During the Iraq war the US used covert means, viz (1) extremely successfully in buying off the loyalties of key Iraqi generals so that organized resistance collapsed in the face of the US Blitzkrieg and (2) not so successfully in activating domestic Iraqi resistance (e.g. Washington-based Chalabi) to cause Saddam Hussain any real damage.

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Preserving Internal Peace

Three decades (or so) ago almost to the day on April 13, 1975, unidentified gunmen killed four Phalangists during an attempt on the life of Pierre Gemayel, founder of the Lebanese (Maronite Christian) political grouping called the Phalangist Party. Suspecting that the assailants were Palestinian the Phalangists retaliated later in the day by ambushing a bus passing through the Eastern Beirut suburb of Ain al Roumanneh, killing more than two dozen Palestinian passengers. This incident initiated a cycle of revenge killings that led to all-out civil war that was supposedly between the Palestinians and Maronite Christians but in fact became a religious strife between the Sunnis, Shias and Druze Lebanese aiding the Palestinians and the heavily Christian Lebanese Army (alongwith their heavy weapons) splitting mainly in favour of the Maronites and Catholics.

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Reverse Swing

Major riots broke out in East Pakistan because of the Tashkent accord between India and Pakistan in January 1966. Bengalis vehemently and vociferously protested the perceived sell-out of Pakistan’s interests to India after the 1965 war. Instead of returning to the cantonments from the borders on the signing of the Tashkent Declaration, troops (mainly from the East Bengal Regiment) were rushed in “aid of civil power” to many of the major cities of East Pakistan, Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, etc. Alpha Company 2E Bengal, then commanded by Maj (later Lt Gen, COAS Bangladesh Army and President of Bangladesh) H M Ershad, with 2/Lt (later Lt Gen, COAS Bangladesh Army) ASM Nasim as his Company Officer, was sent from Jessore Cantonment to Khulna. Detached from Bravo Company I was sent ahead with a wireless jeep to Khulna as Liaison Officer (LO) attached with Deputy Commissioner Khulna, Mr Mohammad Idris (Nasim’s father), (then) DIG (later IG) Police Mr AKM Habibur Rahman (father-in-law of my good friend Anwar Karim) was the Police Chief. Tense confrontations took place with unruly mobs all over the Province. It is an irony of fate that in comparison protests in West Pakistan over Tashkent were muted, if at all. It was only when the (then) Foreign Minister late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto left the Cabinet several months later that Tashkent was raised by him as political bogey.

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Changing Geo-Political Equation

Five years after the annunciation of the Bush Doctrine in the 2001 US National Security Strategy, the US has started to implement its new strategic direction first outlined fully 31 years ago in the famous May 25, 1965 Galbraith Memo. The 5-year hiccup happened mainly because of 9/11. Even though that watershed initiated wholesale changes in conventional geo-political direction, the main thrust of post-Cold War US strategic thinking since the Galbraith Memo has been to contain China within Asia, using India as a proxy. In the 60s the containment was meant to be mainly military, inclusive of geographical and ideological borders, with ideological differences blurred by socialism’s downfall and the meteoric corresponding rise in capitalism, China’s containment has now to be both economic and military.

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