Saudi Arabia/Afghanistan/Pakistan/USA: Usama bin Laden –Part II

Continuing with the American Bedu analysis and discussion about Usama bin Laden, today’s post is focused on Afghanistan. When four American airliners were hijacked on 01 September 2001 Usama bin Laden was known to have been in Afghanistan.  The initial War Against Terror to apprehend Usama bin Laden began in Afghanistan.

Usama bin Laden knew the hills and caves of Afghanistan very well since he began his activities there as a mujahideen during the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1988. Usama bin Laden created Al Qaida in 1988 to consolidate the international network he created during the Afghan/Soviet War. The establishment, growth and coordination of Al Qaida led to a multitude of terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf war.  Al Qaida, led by bin Laden, believed that the Saudis were violating their sacred ground and sites by allowing US non-Muslim military in proximity to Islam’s two holiest cites. His ultimate goal, which was not successful, was to dispose the Saudi regime and put a more conservative Islamic regime in place.

By 1994 the government of Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship.

From 1991 to 1996 Bin Laden found refuge in Sudan.  While in Sudan bin Laden made connections with other terrorist groups and was involved in some terrorist activities.  However by May 1996, the Sudanese government was under pressure from the United States for hosting bin Laden and ultimately bin Laden left the Sudan for Afghanistan where he allied himself with the ruling Taliban.

In 1998 bin Laden escalated his attacks against America with Al Qaida operatives bombing two American embassies in Africa.  From Afghanistan bin Laden’s anti-American rhetoric increased and Al Jazeerah was used as a conduit for the broadcasts of his messages. By the time the Twin Towers and Pentagon were attacked by Al Qaida’s version of the Kamakazee pilot, bin Laden’s network of followers was in place and strong.

It was imperative that the United States and coalition forces send troops to Afghanistan to hunt down bin Laden.  It is difficult to acquire exact figures but it is estimated that there were about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2010.  While efforts did not flush out bin Laden, troops were successful in hunting down some of his followers and supporters which included a mix of Afghan, Arab and other nationals.  In addition to bin Laden, the Taliban became another force with whom they contented.  Bin Laden remained an elusive target until 01 May when he was killed in Pakistan.

Now that bin Laden, the primary target and impetus for sending US forces into Afghanistan, has been killed what does that mean for the remaining US forces in Afghanistan?  Should they remain to support Afghanistan bring down the resurging Taliban?  If US forces withdraw from Afghanistan will that enable other Al Qaida members and followers to make Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorism?  What action is in the best interests of America?  What do the Afghan people want? How have US actions in Afghanistan impacted on its relationship with Saudi Arabia?

Lastly, how did Usama bin Laden allude the US military and its partners when he shifted his safehaven from Afghanistan to Pakistan?

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6 Responses

  1. Q: Should US forces remain in Afghanistan to fight resurging Taliban?

    A: No, a waste of lives. The US cannot change that country. It will continue to be a hellhole. Sooner or later we will leave and the Taliban will take control and terror will return. I pity the women and girls, but such is Islam.

    Q: What action is in the best interests of America?
    A: Get the hell outa there

    Q: What do the Afghan people want?
    A: Nobody knows. Whatever they want, they can’t have it. In my opinion, they deserve nothing because of the way they treat women.

    Q: How have US actions in Afghanistan impacted on its relationship with Saudi Arabia?
    A: Little or no impact. In fact, I think US actions have pleased the Saudis, who are no friends of the radicals (except their own)
    .
    Q: How did Usama bin Laden allude the US military and its partners when he shifted his safehaven from Afghanistan to Pakistan?
    A: Pakistan is / has been working with our enemies. The ISI and some elements of the Pakistani government are playing games with us.

    The problem with Pakistan is that it is based upon an ideology that is inflexible and retrograde. It also has a bad case of India envy. Because it has declared itself an “Islamic state” it cannot change except to worsen. Under that mentality, if there is a problem, the only logical answer is more Islam. It is a downwards spiral.

  2. I fully agree with Jay’s excellent analysis!

  3. @Jay I like your approach of answering the questions Bedu posed. I will give my perspective.

    Q: Should US forces remain in Afghanistan to fight resurging Taliban?
    Yes, in a limited basis. The US should maintain bases in Afghanistan with strategic strike capabilities, but limit our engagement. The objective should not be to secure the country against raids by the Taliban, but rather to insure the group does not develop into an organized army which can take over the country again. The internal security of the country should be the responsibility of the Afghani government. Another objective is to maintain pressure on the Pakistani army and intelligence to reform.

    Q: What action is in the best interests of America?
    Never allow a government like the previous Taliban to take over the country. The Taliban does not have the same command structure as it used to have. It is mostly made up of tribal fighting units with no loyalty to a center authority. This does not provide a good future for the Afghani people. However, the current situation does not present a threat to the US strategic interests nor does it have a global impact like it had in the past. We are not likely to improve the situation based in military presence, but we are certainly capable of maintaining the status quo using a limited engagement, which will minimize financial and human resources costs.

    Q: What do the Afghan people want?
    Very hard question. Afghanistan is a country with people who have very limited education. It is hard to have a unified understanding between the people on the direction of the country. The local warlords, tribal leaders and Immams have more influence on the wants of an individual than any direction the government or the US try to push. It is not a situation we can influence directly neither should we try.

    Q: How have US actions in Afghanistan impacted on its relationship with Saudi Arabia?
    I think the actions in Afghanistan gave Saudi a more influential position relating to US strategies. Saudi through its long term relations with the Taliban and tribal leaders along with the aid for villagers and mosques, holds important relations necessary for any negotiations leading to a national unity government (the term unity is used loosely due to the fragmentation of the power base of Taliban). Never the less Saudi can use this card to continue receiving tacit approval from the US relating to its strategy of squashing protests in the Gulf Region. It will also allow Saudi to expand its influence in the region and even try to shape changes in countries like Egypt and Syria. The invasion of Afghanistan (along with Iraq) was a strategic plunder of epic proportion. The US would have done much better by using strategic air strikes to weaken the Talaban forces and support they rivals in the civil war at the time. The result would have cost us much less than trying to control a country with no strategic value.

    Q: How did Usama bin Laden allude the US military and its partners when he shifted his safehaven from Afghanistan to Pakistan?
    Bad decisions by Rumsfeld in not dedication the necessary resources to go after Bin Laden when he was surrounded. Finding safe haven in Pakistan is the result of the Pakistani military and intelligence not abandoning their puppet regime in Afghanistan.

  4. “It was imperative that the United States and coalition forces send troops to Afghanistan to hunt down bin Laden.”

    At this point I don’t know if that was true, we certainly didn’t need 100,000 troops there. We could have destroyed Taliban camps without trying to rebuild the country. Given the successful efforts of Pakistan in keeping Afghanistan unstable, everything we did there was a waste of time, money and lives. Time to pack up an go home. (PS we should have buried bin Laden with cement shoes in the Atlantic off New York City. The pretense of a Muslim burial was wrong.)

  5. I don’t know why some are upset about the unIslamic burial when all I’ve heard since reading Muslim blogs the last 3.5 years is how OBL was not a Muslim, how terrorists “hijacked” our “religion of peace.” Now suddenly he is a Muslim and people are upset about a sea burial?

  6. good point Susanne.

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