The Crumbling Coalition: Al-Qaida Thriving Despite US Efforts

November 3rd, 2010 - by admin

The Peace and Justice Resource Center & Roland Lloyd Parry / Agence France-Presse – 2010-11-03 22:46:32

The Crumbling Coalition:
France to Withdraw Following Bin Laden Threat

The Peace and Justice Resource Center

(November 3, 2010) — In a sharp blow to the Western alliance, the hawkish French government of Nicolas Sarkozy announced it would withdraw all 3,500 troops from Afghanistan beginning in 2011. [CSM, Oct. 28] The Sarkozy withdrawal announcement came after a taped threat from Osama bin Laden to pull out of Afghanistan and stop oppressing Muslims in France.

The Canadian government, led by the neo-con ally Stephen Harper, is planning to withdraw its 2,800 combat troops by December 2011. Poland will yank its 2,600 troops by 2012. The Netherlands withdrew all its 1,950 troops this year. The United Kingdom, while for now keeping its special forces in Afghanistan, is floating a withdrawal deadline to begin next year, one which would see all of its combat troops removed by 2015.

In short, while the US lacks an exit strategy, its foremost allies are heading for the exits.

Al-Qaida Thriving Despite US Efforts: Experts

Roland Lloyd Parry / Agence France-Presse

PARIS (November 1, 2010) — With bombings, kidnappings and suicide attacks, the al-Qaida network is thriving on several fronts in Asia, the Middle East and Africa despite huge US and allied efforts to stamp it out, experts said Monday.

Nearly a decade after the United States launched its “war on terror” after the al-Qaida attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with the invasion of Afghanistan, the battlefield has widened, as headlines in recent days have shown.

“Despite hundreds of billions of dollars which have been spent to fight them, al-Qaida is still there and continues to increase its capacity to cause harm,” said Antoine Basbous, head of the Observatory of Arab Countries, a Paris-based think-tank.

Sunday saw a deadly hostage-taking at a church in Baghdad claimed by al-Qaida’s Iraq branch, showing its killing power has not faded despite a relative return to calm in the country since the height of the war.

Last week intelligence services foiled an aeroplane bomb plot originating in Yemen, home to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which emerged last year as one of the network’s most dangerous new branches. Beyond the Middle East meanwhile, the network has pushed to new frontiers, with armed groups based in impoverished Niger and Mali kidnapping and killing European hostages.

“There are now six fronts: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the Sahel,” Basbous told AFP, referring lastly to the desert region of northwestern Africa which has emerged as a base for al-Qaida-linked militants. “These drain the resources of the states that are fighting against this enemy, which is not always visible. And the war is continuing,” he said.

Al-Qaida took root in Africa in 2006 when Algerian militants joined. They have drawn recruits from Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Niger, Mali and Mauritania, “aiming to attack Europe from the south Mediterranean,” Basbous said. “Now they want to make the link with Nigeria,” he added. This would give the movement a further west African base, while on the east coast, Basbous says, it thrives on piracy in lawless Somalia.

While fierce US missile strikes on his Pakistan mountain hideout keep al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s head down, the ideological power of his movement is enough to draw new recruits even without his direct involvement, experts say.

“al-Qaida is operating on multiple fronts without a huge amount of central support,” said Ben Wilkinson, a counter-terrorism expert at the RUSI security think-tank in London. “The power of the network is in its ideology. The reason missile strikes in Pakistan have no effect on Yemen is because the organisations are virtually separate.”

Ideological coherence “gives the impression they are all linked and that the threat is rising,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French terrorism expert. He called AQAP “the most innovative terrorist group in terms of technology”, capable of building sophisticated miniature bombs, and skilled at propaganda. AQAP backed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underpants bomber” who carried explosives in his underwear on a bomb attempt on a US plane in 2009.

Like another attempted bombing in New York’s Times Square in May, that plot failed, and no large-scale al-Qaida atrocities have struck western countries since bombings in London in July 2005. But a US-bound bomb parcel from Yemen found last week on a Qatar Airways plane had PETN explosives — the same type used by Abdulmutallab — hidden inside a computer printer.

“The US efforts in Pakistan have kept AQ there under fairly tight wraps,” said Wilkinson, but this did not stop recruits elsewhere, such as the Nigerian Abdulmutallab, from trying to attack the United States. “The globalisation of the organization makes it so nebulous,” Wilkinson said. “You wouldn’t expect missile strikes in Pakistan to affect the other al-Qaida franchises.”

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Read more:


+ US soldiers’ deaths under Bush [2001-2008] in Afghanistan:
630 (I)

+ US soldiers’ deaths under Obama [2009-Oct. 2010] in Afghanistan:
730 (II)

+ Total US soldiers’ deaths in Afghanistan:
1,360 (III)

+ Total US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan:
5,787I (V)

+ Total US contractor deaths from 09.01.01 through 09.30.10:
2,400 (V)

+ Total US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan:
9,095 (VI)

+ Total US soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan:
41,076 (VII)

+ Total US contractors wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan:
44,152 (VIII)

+ Total US military suicides during 2001‐2009:
1,985I (X)

+ Civilian casualties,
Hundreds of Thousands (X)

+ Civilian casualties, Afghanistan:
Tens of Thousands (XI)

+ Direct costs/month in Iraq:
$12.5 billion (XII)

+ Direct costs/month in Afghanistan
$16 billion (XIII)

+ Total direct cost, Iraq:
$740.4 billion (XIV)

+ Total direct cost, Afghanistan:
$361.3 billion (XV)

+ Total projected direct and indirect costs, Iraq:
$3 trillion+ (XVI)

+ Total projected direct and indirect costs, Afghanistan:
$1 trillion+ (XVII)


I A. iCasualties. 27 Oct. 2010 . B. DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics. “Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn Casualty Summary by State as of October 25, 2010” Statistical Information Analysis Division. Defense Manpower Data Center: Data, Analysis, and Programs Division. 27. Oct. 2010 .

II Ibid.

III Ibid.

IV United States of America. Department of Defense. OIF/OND/OEF US Casualty Status. 27 Oct. 2010 .

V United States of America. Department of Labor. Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP). “Defense Base Act Summary By Employer.” 27 Oct. 2010. .

VI United States of America. Department of Defense. OIF/OND/OEF US Casualty Status.

VII Ibid.

VIII Schooner, Steven L., and Collin D. Swan. “Contractors and the Ultimate Sacrifice.” Service Contractor. September 2010: 16-8. 10 Oct. 2010 .

IX Christenson, Sig. “Military is Battling Alarming Suicide Rate.” The Houston Chronicle 10 Oct. 2010 .

X Hayden, Tom. “Civilian Casualties: Hundreds of Thousands in Iraq, Tens of Thousands in Afghanistan, But Who is Count?” The Peace Exchange Bulletin. 20, Oct. 2010. .

XI Ibid.

XII Stiglitz, Joseph, and Linda Bilmes. United States of America. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “The True Cost of War.” 1 Oct. 2010 .

XIII Ibid.

XIV “The Cost of War.” National Priorities Project. 27 Oct. 2010 .

XV Ibid.

XVI “The Three Trillion Dollar War.” Stiglitz, Joseph and Linda Bilmes. The Times, 23 Feb. 2008: Times Online. 10 Oct. 2010 .

XVII Obama estimates $113 billion in direct costs/per year at current US troop levels of 100,000. If those troop levels are halved by 2013, then the direct costs will remain over $50 billion/per year. An additional three years would therefore cost at least $200 billion more. Using the Stiglitz/Bilmes methodology for measuring indirect — accrual — costs, such as veterans’ health care and benefits, interest payments, etc — would add hundreds of billions in long‐term costs, making Afghanistan another $1 trillion dollar war.

*Data accurate as of November 2, 2010.

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