America’s Concessions to the Taliban and Pakistan Only Encourage Terrorism

Feb. 25 2020

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. has come to “an understanding” with the Taliban, which he expects will soon result in a signed agreement and a withdrawal of American forces. Michael Rubin, citing as precedent the extensive negotiations with the Islamist group in the late 1990s—during which Washington received repeated assurances that Afghanistan would not become a safe haven for terrorists—is skeptical that the newest agreement will achieve its desired effect:

Here are the basic problems with the Taliban deal: the withdrawal [of U.S. forces] is not calibrated to the success of intra-Afghan dialogue; . . . there is no mechanism to prevent the Taliban from playing good-cop, bad-cop by simultaneously holding out an olive branch while ordering supposedly rogue units to attack—a tactic Iran has used for 40 years.

Worst of all, the agreement ignores Pakistan and its continuing efforts to undermine an elected Afghan government at peace with itself and its neighbors.

Meanwhile, adds Rubin, the Financial Action Task Force—an international body for combating money-laundering and terror finance—recently decided, at Washington’s urging, not to sanction Pakistan:

Rather than taking action against designated [terrorist] groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba—which calls Pakistan home and is responsible for a number of bombings and massacres, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks [on a hotel and Jewish center]—the Pakistani government instead sought to win exceptions for Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front groups. Rather than incarcerating terror leaders from Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and the Haqqani Network, it simply created revolving-door justice, slapping sentences on them to appease foreign diplomats and to collect billions of dollars in aid, but then quietly letting them go just months later.

Pakistan looks at such actions and concludes that not only can it get away with murder, but that it can simultaneously get the Trump administration to pay it to do so. If Pakistan can host Osama bin Laden—and never hold any of its officials accountable for that duplicity—and support groups responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and still face no consequences, then Islamabad has no incentive to stop supporting terrorism and extremist groups.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria