Guest post of the day:
By Imogen Reed
the last week there have been a number of news stories trickling out
information about where the United States military could be heading
next, since they are slowly making their way out of Afghanistan. Could
it be Somalia, where the Islamist militants al-Shabab have offered a
bounty of 10 camels for President Obama, or Pakistan, where Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta has confirmed that the U.S. is already actually
fighting a war there. On the other hand, the majority of the U.S. Naval
fleet is on its way to the Asia-Pacific region, where North and South
Korea are at each other’s throats once again.
The al-Shabaab in Somalia
has had its fair share of new coverage of the years, but over the last
year the uprisings across North Africa have definitely taken center
stage. That’s not to say that there the region has suddenly become
peaceful, far from it in fact. Pirates still operate from the country,
making insuring a fleet of
sea vessels navigating the waters off of Somalia extremely expensive.
In addition to piracy, the al-Qaeda affiliate group al–Shabaab is
operating in the country. The State Department’s Rewards for Justice
Program named seven members of the Somali insurgent group, and offered a
bounty for the capture of each of them. So now the leaders of
al-Shabaab are on the U.S. hit list to the tune of $33 million.
senior commander of al-Shabaab, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, responded with
this rather different offer. “Anyone who helps the Mujahedeen find the
whereabouts of Obama and Hillary Clinton will be rewarded with 10 camels
for the information leading to Obama and 10 hens and 10 cocks for
Hillary.” This isn’t the first time camels have been offered up for the
capture of a world figure, as a passage from the Koran tells the story
of how 100 camels were offered to whoever could capture the Prophet
Mohammed when he fled Mecca. What is being seen as a an attempt to mock
the U.S. bounties on leading members of the al-Shabaab comes with a
stark message from Khalaf in regards to the West, "I can assure you that
these kind of things will never dissuade us from continuing the holy
war against them."
The FATA Region in Northwest Pakistan
continuing U.S. Military drone air-strikes in Pakistan have been
condemned by Pakistani officials for some time now, severely hampering
the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. At one point they were
allies, but this seems to be slipping away despite efforts to renew
ties. The hope of realigning Pakistan with Washington was torpedoed by
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week when he revealed that the U.S.
are in fact fighting an actual war inside of Pakistan. His precise words
were, “We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against
terrorism.” FATA is the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the
north-west of the country, which is the area targeted by unmanned
before has the U.S. referred to the conflict in the area as a war, and
this admission is expected to only strengthen opposition for the U.S.
military presence in Pakistan. Former head of the CIA’s counterterrorism
center, Robert Greiner, believes that the indiscriminate attacks taking
place in northwest Pakistan are not decreasing the threat of terrorism,
but actually adding to it. The increase in anti-American sentiments
caused by the drone air-strikes could even result in unrest that the
U.S. military may not be able to deal with. In UK newspaper The
Guardian, he was reported saying, “We have gone a long way down the road
of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are
removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regards to
Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
China, North Korea and the Pacific Rim
Secretary Leon Panetta also let everyone know that the majority of the
U.S. naval force would be directed towards the Pacific over the next
decade, which some see as a challenge to China’s ever increasing
military strength. Panetta claimed this isn’t the case, and said, “Some
view the increased emphasis by the United States on Asia-Pacific as a
challenge to China. I reject that view entirely. Our effort to renew and
intensify our involvement in Asia is fully compatible with the
development and growth of China.”
is apparent though is that long-term ally of the United States, South
Korea, is becoming increasingly intolerant of its aggressive neighbour,
North Korea. On June 11th South Korea initiated unscheduled
military exercises at the North-South border. Artillery units, ballistic
missile command, and the Air Force were involved in the exercise, said
to be in retaliation to a threat of rocket attcaks on media offices in
South Korea. The threat of military action against one another is
nothing new, but North and South Korea are both poised for battle should
it ever occur, which could spark off an even wider conflict, which
would certainly attract the attention of nearby U.S. forces.
The Next Target
anyone’s guess which country is going to feel the brunt of U.S.
military power next, but what seems to be apparent is that perhaps they
are biting off more than they can chew. Robert Greiner said this about
the drone attacks in Pakistan, but the same could be said of all areas
of conflict where the U.S. military are involved. “If you strike them
indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount
of popular anger.”
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