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January 29, 2008
New US Base in Afghanistan for CIA Pak Raids?
The Asia Times is reporting that a new US military base near the Pakistan-Afghan border will be used to carry out lightening raids into Pakistan to take out al-Qaeda and Taliban targets - without the express approval of President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani government:
Pakistani intelligence quarters have confirmed to Asia Times Online that the base, on a mountain top in Ghakhi Pass overlooking Pakistan, is now operational. (This correspondent visited the area last July and could clearly see construction underway.) Intelligence chief Mike McConnell and CIA Director Hayden visited Pakistan this month to meet with Musharraf. It's a safe bet that these cross border operations came up in the conversation. Musharraf has fiercely resisted such operations in the past and for good reason; if it became known that he was sanctioning this activity, he would be a gone goose. However, what Musharraf doesn't know won't hurt him - at least that's the theory:
The new US base is expected to serve as the center of clandestine special forces' operations in the border region. The George W Bush administration is itching to take more positive action - including inside Pakistan - against Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda militants increasingly active in the area and bolstering the insurgency in Afghanistan.
A senior Pakistani security official explained to Asia Times Online, "American special forces have carried out clandestine operations in the past, and Pakistan was not informed. The Taliban and al-Qaeda also did not realize what was happening with the quick-as-a-wink hit-and-run operations in the tribal areas. Pakistani intelligence only knew of the operations after they happened. They included the killing of high-value Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders and high-value arrests," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The US did something similar in Viet Nam with Cambodia's Prince Sihanouk. The North Vietnamese had occupied several hundred square miles of Cambodian territory but Sihanouk refused to grant permission for US "hot pursuit" and other missions into Cambodia to fight. Eventually, the army went in anyway and Sihanouk pretended not to notice. When it came out in the press that we had carried out extensive operations in Cambodia, Sihanouk played the aggreived party, saying he knew nothing about it.
"However, with the new Kunar base, American special forces will carry out extended operations, which means a limited war against Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in the tribal areas. These clandestine operations can be done with or without Pakistan's consent."
While it's good news that we are finally going to take the fight to the enemy, the reaction of the Pakistani people if our incursions ever become known will probably be very bad news for Musharraf. Hopefully, we can carry out those missions without raising our profile.