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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Giving terrorists a safe haven

Former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan Richard Kemp explains some of the risks involved in an Israeli pullback from Judea and Samaria.
Israel has had more than a taste of what it can mean to leave hostile groups in control of lands adjacent to its own borders – in southern Lebanon and in Gaza. Any similar move to cede control of the West Bank or a part of Jerusalem may have considerable attraction for any peace process, and that is certainly the view of many in the international community. But both prospects would carry immense risk from the perspective of asymmetrical activities against Israel.

Some might argue that a modern hi-tech state can monitor hostile activities outside its borders. Yet we’ve seen many failures of intelligence in relation to offensive activities by conventional forces and war plans by nation-states, which are generally relatively easy to identify and monitor. Surveillance and intelligence collection against a deeply embedded, secretive, extremist network operating within a dense civilian population is the most difficult, and no national intelligence organization can be confident that it will have a high success rate against such a target.

Despite many spectacular successes, including the killing in Pakistan of al-Qaida’s number three, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the unrivalled technological supremacy of the US military has failed to effectively dent the Taliban’s ability to smuggle munitions and infiltrate large groups of fighters across the Afghan border. I do not for a moment underestimate the difficulties this entails.

Jordan’s support or effectiveness in countering extremist activity directed at Israel from the West Bank could not be counted upon, and extremists would also seek to destabilize Jordan, an important stepping stone to the destruction of Israel.

We can look again at Pakistan and Afghanistan to get an insight here. NATO puts in a significant effort to coordinate cross-border security measures with the government of Pakistan.

Some of this is successful some of the time. Some elements of the Pakistani government have different agendas, supporting the Taliban when it suits them or at least turning a blind eye, but Pakistan itself is suffering a very serious, dangerous and worsening insurgency from its own Taliban. Despite the contrary views of some, its own Taliban, closely linked to the Afghanistan Taliban, is intent on bringing down Pakistan’s government – a goal shared by al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan.

Despite efforts on both sides of the border, insurgents operate with relative freedom.

The importance of safe havens to extremists is well understood by the Pakistani military. One of its greatest fears is that NATO forces will withdraw precipitously from Afghanistan, leaving a vacuum from which their own insurgency could be supported and strengthened. That of course, leaves a prospect of a nuclear-armed state falling into the hands of extremists.
Read the whole thing. An Israeli withdrawal of any significant size from Judea and Samaria - or from the eastern part of Jerusalem for that matter - sounds suicidal to me.


At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this guy. He's incredibly sharp.


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