An al Qaeda strategist issued a statement
over the weekend threatening that unless Canada withdraws its troops from
Afghanistan, it will face terrorist attacks similar to 9/11 or the Madrid and
London train bombings. Given al Qaeda's penchant for issuing threats, this
statement by itself does not indicate a particularly heightened level of risk
for Canadians, who have been in al Qaeda's crosshairs since the jihadist war
with the West began. But then, al Qaeda is not known for making one-off
In fact, the statement -- attributed to Hossam Abdul Raouf,
a member of al Qaeda's information and strategy committee -- marked the
second time in recent weeks that jihadists have singled out Canada for
special mention over the prominent role it is playing in Afghanistan. In
September, Ayman al-Zawahiri referred to the Canadian troops in Kandahar as
"second-rate Crusaders." Along with these remarks has come a separate warning
from the Taliban
threatening attacks on the soil of European countries that are part of the
NATO offensive in Afghanistan.
That is worth saying again, with
emphasis: The Taliban
-- a nationalist religious movement --
threatened to carry out attacks against civilians on foreign soil, blurring
the already fuzzy line between the Afghan group and its transnational
militant counterpart, al Qaeda.
The timing of all of these statements
centering on Afghanistan seems hardly accidental. In Canada, there is growing
sentiment that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government is
putting the country at risk by aiding what is perceived as, in truth,
Washington's war. Canadian forces were deployed to Afghanistan under a
Liberal government, but the Harper administration extended the length of the
mission and, critics say, changed the mandate from peacekeeping to
insurgent-fighting. With recent news that Canada is preparing to send Leopard
tanks and CF-18 fighter jets into the fray, the country's military
capabilities will be fully represented in Afghanistan -- and there is no
fallback position if it then fails to defeat the Taliban. Voters also are
dissatisfied over the absence of milestones by which to chart progress or
determine an end point for the mission, and they are worried about the
possibility of terrorist strikes
on their own soil.
The general tenor of discussion is not
unlike that in the United States, where the tally of Iraq war casualties is
now a daily drumbeat underlying news coverage of the congressional election
campaigns. There are some crucial differences, however: Because Afghanistan
was a sanctuary for al Qaeda for years, the military invasion has never
excited the kinds of political controversies that surround the Iraq war effort
While the attention of Americans and much of the world
remains riveted on Iraq, the campaign in Afghanistan continues to grind away.
But the outcome of this campaign -- at least as much as that in Iraq, if not
more so -- has direct implications for the "global war on terrorism." As
such, it bears careful consideration.A Shift in the Military
The recent spate of threats -- and particularly those from
the Taliban -- is rooted, at least to some degree, in an increasingly
confident military footing.
For most of Afghan President Hamid
Karzai's time in power, the military situation has been primarily a
stalemate. The young government in Kabul was not strong enough to control
most of the country's territory, but was shored up by U.S.-led forces. The
coalition forces were not able to eliminate the Taliban, which continued to
move about with relative freedom in several southern provinces, but neither
was the Taliban strong enough to quash either the coalition forces or the
government in Kabul. The Karzai administration remained secure, though its
power was circumscribed, and the Taliban waged a small- to medium-scale
insurgency in the southern and eastern parts of the country.
balance began to shift early last year. The Taliban, assisted by al Qaeda,
began to engage in suicide bombings, surging to the north and east of their
southern strongholds (where the guerrilla offensive continued). In fact,
Taliban fighters were able to strike as far north as Kabul. This year, the
frequency and intensity of these attacks climbed: So far, there have been
some 80 suicide attacks, claiming more than 200 lives, compared to fewer than
20 in 2005. And in recent months, Western troops -- not just rival political
targets in Afghanistan -- have been targeted with both suicide bombings and
improvised explosive devices.
Perhaps the most noteworthy trend in
all of this is that Taliban forces appear to be retaking some of the
territory they lost following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. They long have
shown an ability to move in and out of the five key provinces where their
strongholds are based -- Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul and Paktika -- but
there now are signs that Taliban fighters could be, if not holding more
ground, at least shoring up their support in outlying areas.
fact, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in August went so
far as to claim the Taliban now have "psychological and de facto military
control of nearly half of Afghanistan," mapping out a line of control that
runs right through the country's middle. We do not believe the Taliban firmly
controls all of southern Afghanistan, but the line of control does conform
with the areas of Taliban activity we have observed in recent
months.Sources of Strength
Several factors, both
foreign and domestic, paved the way for this surge of Taliban influence.
Let's consider these in turn:
- The U.S. military stance:
After forcing the Taliban from power, U.S. and coalition forces -- with too
few troops to adequately control a large and difficult terrain -- moved to
staging periodic anti-Taliban operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
These periodic disruptions, however, were followed by entrenchment, with the
Taliban resettling and digging in between offensives.
military transition: Over the summer, U.S. forces began to surrender
responsibility for the southern and eastern provinces to other NATO states,
whose forces (even by their own admission) were ill-prepared to deal with the
fierce insurgency there. Meanwhile, there appears to have been an influx
of foreign jihadists, swelling the ranks of Taliban
- The economic situation: Though the Karzai
administration has scored notable achievements -- crafting a new constitution
and providing a system of elections at all levels of government -- it has not
been able to improve the economy or the daily life of Afghan citizens. In a
country that never fully recovered from the massive devastation visited on it
by the Soviets, this would be an uphill battle for any government. One of the
key points of friction for the Karzai government, however, is that it has
cracked down on production of the main cash crop -- poppies -- leaving many
Afghans without alternative forms of income. The Taliban, of course, have
moved to capitalize on the discontent, reportedly offering money to new
recruits and offering social services, such as medical care, for supporters.
In some areas, the Taliban apparently have established parallel governments
that include district administrators, judges and other officials.
There are other divisions that the Taliban exploit: ethnic
ties and clan loyalties, for example, or the rift in cultural traditions. The
U.S.-aligned Karzai government is portrayed as chipping away at good,
old-fashioned religious and tribal mores. But the economic arena is where the
rubber truly meets the road: NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, British
Gen. David Richards, warned Oct. 8 that a majority of Afghans likely will
turn toward the Taliban if their lives do not tangibly improve during the
next six months. Psychological Warfare
assessment is correct, it takes little imagination to envision what could
follow. Memories of the Soviet withdrawal and the painful civil war that
ensued spring quickly to mind. For coalition states in the West, the failure
of Operation Enduring Freedom (or "Operation Enduring Frustration," as one
U.S. senator recently dubbed it) would be a crushing political blow. Finally,
there is the distinct possibility that Afghanistan
or at least significant portions of it, could again become a sanctuary for
transnational Islamist militants (and certainly, the top al Qaeda leaders now
believed to be sheltering in northwestern Pakistan wouldn't have far to
This is not a foregone conclusion, of course, but the stage
does appear to be set for intensifying military conflict in Afghanistan as
the Taliban move to consolidate their gains. With the annual fighting season
drawing to a close, it is interesting that the jihadists have lately been
waging a psychological offensive, targeting not only the Canadian and other
NATO troops who patrol the roadways of Afghanistan, but also -- with a wave
of threats and warnings -- their home countries and communities. This could
be construed as an effort to maintain psychological momentum during the
winter, until frozen mountain passes thaw in the spring and military
offensives can begin again in earnest.
The recent statements of Mullah
Dadullah, a top Taliban military commander, are particularly intriguing in
this regard. In a Sept. 17 interview with ABC News, he claimed to have 500
suicide bombers under his command, willing to deploy at any time, and said
that 12,000 Taliban fighters were fighting under him in four southwestern
provinces. "We have no shortage of fighters," he said. "In fact, we have so
many of them that it is difficult to accommodate and arm and equip them. Some
of them have been waiting for a year or more for their turn to be sent to the
battlefield." Dadullah also was quoted as saying the Taliban is gathering
strength to launch bigger attacks in Afghan cities -- particularly Kabul --
next spring. And he expressed his opinion that the United States had cleverly
handed responsibility for Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces off to
British, Canadian and Dutch allies and withdrawn.
Now, in terrorism
analysis, we steer toward the view that those who have knowledge of specific
operations or targets don't talk, and that those who talk, don't know. It's a
rule of thumb that makes fairly specific operational statements like
Dadullah's quite interesting to consider. We are in no position to judge
whether his numerical estimates are on track -- though if they are, larger
military formations, which would create easier targets for NATO airstrikes,
likely would be avoided in favor of a higher tempo of small-unit guerrilla
engagements. His mention of Kabul, where foreign troops and the enemy
government are centered, divulges nothing that would not be otherwise be
reasonably assumed. The statement on the whole is designed to be a
psychological weapon, used to drive a wedge between NATO allies and stir up
dissent among the public in NATO states.
Together, the Taliban and al
Qaeda appear to be using the psychological weapon in a focused way,
attempting to break the back of political support for the war effort in
Canada and other U.S.-allied countries. The jihadists are very much aware of
the tone of Canadian politics and want to capitalize on the public's
misgivings about the war effort. For the Taliban and al Qaeda, fueling the
existing malaise in the war-weary West -- or forcing a general crisis of
confidence among the coalition partners -- could be an effective way of
weakening them all over the long term.
Whether the Taliban will
manage to follow up this psychological offensive and consolidate their
military successes when the fighting season resumes next spring is, at this
point, an open question. But their staying power, after five years of
warfare, is not.
Send questions or comments on this article to email@example.com.
Wednesday, 1 November 2006
Based on immigration issues -- WHO SHOULD GET YOUR VOTE NEXT TUESDAY?
Roy Beck, President, NumbersUSA
1 p.m. EST
Based on immigration issues -- WHO SHOULD GET YOUR VOTE NEXT TUESDAY?
"When you listen to all these political ads, it sounds like everybody is going to get tough on immigration. But you need to let everybody know who has a record that shows they can be trusted to do it."
"Whom does NumbersUSA support in the upcoming elections? This information would be extremely valuable to me as a voter."
"God bless you for what you are trying to do. I am trying to prepare for the upcoming election and although you are not partisan, and I appreciate that, I think we need a voter guide. Is it possible that you could do it or send us to a place where we could find out the truth about a candidate's position? The media is very crooked and the issue we care about is being covered up and neglected on purpose."
"Why don't you tell voters to vote for those people in Congress and the Senate WHO OPPOSED AMNESTY AND GIVE THEM LISTS? Otherwise the tiny progress we've made thus far can be flushed away."
Almost everything you need to know can be found by going to:
Immigration Grades and Candidates Pages at www.CongressGrades.org
Which candidates would refuse to reward illegal immigration? Who would punish outlaw businesses who hire illegal aliens? Who would fight to protect American workers from having their occupations collapsed by foreign labor importation? Who would oppose the federal government using high immigration to force massive population growth and congestion?
Your NumbersUSA staffers have provided you with the best immigration campaign guide you can find anywhere.
We have all kinds of information to help you know which candidates (1) have a record of responsible immigration decisions and/or (2) have pledged to take responsible immigration actions in the future.
I hope you won't go into the voting booth next Tuesday without at least checking on our special web pages to know exactly how the candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, and for your state's Governor, compare on immigration issues.
A scientific national poll released last week found that 53 percent of likely voters said immigration was either their most important issue or one of their top three issues -- while just 8 percent said it was not at all important.
If you are one of those 53 percent, our information about who is GOOD, WISHY-WASHY or a FRAUD in toughness on immigration is of essential importance before you decide how to vote.
NumbersUSA is known for being doggedly non-partisan. We employ on our staff committed Democrats, Independents and Republicans -- Conservatives, Moderates and Liberals.
Our registered membership also covers the entire political spectrum (and includes immigrants and children of immigrants from every continent).
We are united on only one issue -- and only one issue gets our action -- reducing annual illegal and legal immigration from more than 2 million a year back toward America's traditional average (before 1970) of only a quarter of a million a year.
1. SEND THIS EMAIL TO ALL
OF YOUR VOTING FRIENDS AND RELATIVES
Most Americans do not realize that there is such an easy way to know which candidates truly favor the American majority's wishes for cracking down on illegal immigration and halting increases in foreign labor importation.
Please send this email to everybody who may looking for an easy way to check on candidates related to immigration issues.
You know how the internet works. We will send this email to the 1.1 million American voters on our email list. If half of you on that list send to 10 people on your email list, we're up over 5 million. And those of you who are getting this email as a pass-along, can incredibly increase the exposure by sending it on to YOUR list.
Many people say it is too late to make a difference.
But what if we make sure that the 53% who really care about getting immigration under control see which candidates can do that? And we do it over the next few days?
Let's do our best to reach 70 million people just before they go into that voting booth.
How to Reply
Please do not click 'Reply' button to respond to this message. To make a general comment or request tech help, click here and fill out our Help Form.
2. LOOK AT IMMIGRATION GRADES
OF INCUMBENTS SEEKING RE-ELECTION
Your NumbersUSA staff has kept track of every single immigration action of all 535 Members of Congress since 1989 or when they arrived in Washington after that.
Click on the state on the map of the Member of Congress whose record you wish to inspect.
If you are considering an incumbent, probably nothing is a better indicator of what he/she will do if re-elected than the Immigration Grades each of the Members of Congress has earned.
Unless the Challenger in a particular race is demonstrably better on immigration, it is very important to our issue that every Incumbent with a grade of A+ down to even a B-minus gets returned to Congress to continue to help us in our fight. They are proven entities.
But most incumbents with below a B-minus probably have forfeited any claim on returning, as far as our hopes for overall illegal and legal immigration reductions are concerned. In fact, a case could be made that it might be okay to elect somebody who seems even worse because of the political lessons it would show by defeating incumbents who try to get by with C or below efforts.
You can take a look at the whole list of Incumbents With Good Immigration-Reform Records for the current Congress.
Nearly half of the incumbents have grades of B-minus up through A+ during the current Congress. Many of them have much better grades this Congress than in previous Congresses because of constituency pressure.
3. CHECK TO SEE WHICH CANDIDATES ARE RUNNING
AS 'TRUE IMMIGRATION REFORM CANDIDATES'
Click to See List of True Immigration-Reform Candidates for Congress & Governor
We made multiple requests of every single congressional and gubernatorial candidate since spring to fill out our immigration survey.
Most campaign offices declined.
But the candidates (shown in bright green) who filled out the form and met our minimum standard for being declared a TRUE IMMIGRATION REFORM CANDIDATE do indeed deserve a close look from you.
These are people who proactively have sought to get our seal of approval and to publicly tie themselves to some very aggressive reform positions.
You can still make a big difference for a True Immigration Reform Candidate by volunteering to help him/her get out the vote next Tuesday.
You can find out how to call or email each candidate by simply clicking on his/her name in the list of True Immigration Reform Candidates.
4. U.S. HOUSE ENDORSEMENTS BY THE OLDEST IMMIGRATION REFORM POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Immigration Reform Political Action Committee (USIRP) announced last week that it is endorsing 304 candidates in contested races for the House of Representatives, after endorsing in a number of Senate races earlier.
The list of House endorsements includes 194 incumbents 95 challengers and 15 candidates for open seats in the November election.
NumbersUSA never endorses candidates. We only help voters know which candidates might do the best job in reaching NumbersUSA's immigration goals (our only issue is immigration reduction).
But you can see what this immigration PAC has done in endorsements at:
Click here, and then click on "06 Elections" in the navigation bar, and on the next page click on links for House and Senate endorsements.
USIRP communications director Phil Kent said the endorsements were based on three criteria: incumbents’ immigration report cards, ten-question candidate surveys USIRP mailed out to several hundred challengers, and public positions taken by the candidates on campaign websites and in statements to the media.
Kent said, "The cat is out of the bag as far as the immigration issue is concerned. Americans increasingly realize that uncontrolled immigration is a major cause of many of the ills that afflict their society from the rising cost of health care to the quality of education, traffic congestion, urban sprawl, pollution, and the threat of terrorism and crime."
"Regardless of which party controls Congress after the election, regaining control of our borders and restoring common sense to our immigration policies are going to intensify as political issues until our elected leaders find the courage to deal honestly with the problem," Kent added.
5. SMALLER, TOUGHER LIST OF ENDORSEMENTS FROM A NEW IMMIGRATION REFORM POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
Click for list of endorsements
The Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (of Raleigh, N.C.) decided to give only a few endorsements to incumbents who have not disappointed and challengers with an aggressive reform stance.
6. WE NEED TO SHOW THE ELITE MEDIA
THAT IMMIGRATION DOES MATTER
Most of you know that I spent most of my adult life in journalism -- primarily in newspapers. I'm a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
All of that makes me pretty embarrassed, if not downright ashamed, of the unprofessional coverage of immigration issues by most news media.
The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and other elite media are unabashedly passionate in their promotion of (a) citizenship for illegal aliens, (b) opening the gates to massive additional flows of foreign labor, and (c) using immigration to force even faster population growth and congestion in our local communities.
Whether liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, the overwhelming majority of opinion leaders agree on virtually open borders, in opposition to the overwhelming majority of American voters who do not.
Those elite media have been pounding a theme the last few days that Americans will not vote on the basis of wanting tougher enforcement of immigation laws and reduced flows of foreign workers. They say gleefully that the next Congress will be far more open to legalizing illegal aliens and drastically increasing the flow of new foreign workers. They say they are confident that voters will go into the polling booths next week and vote out enough True Immigration Reformers so the next Congress can pass the Senate's open-borders legislation.
You know that I know that many of you have one or two issues that are more important to you than immigration. That may cause you to vote for a candidate who is not the best immigration-reform candidate in a race. Still, I hope you will consider very carefully before you vote for somebody who might be the deciding vote in passing an amnesty and doubling foreign workers next year.
7. SEND SOME FREE FAXES TO YOUR ELECTED LEADERS
To send free faxes over the internet to your Members of Congress to make sure they know how you feel, click on the following link:
SEND FREE FAXES
Some of you have already sent all the faxes that were available, but more will go up soon.
If you have never sent a NumbersUSA fax, you will find it is very easy. And NumbersUSA has never broken its promise (in 9.5 years of operation) that it will not share, rent or sell any names, email addresses, etc. of anybody who uses its faxing system.
DON'T FORGET TO VOTE NEXT TUESDAY,
Technorati Tags:Mexico:UN Borderless World:Migration Without Borders
**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.
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