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

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

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy