Another unauthorized war ! Panetta admits that US is at war in Pakistan


SOURCE

Hold the phone, anti-war activists. President Obama says that American troops are done with Operation Iraqi Freedom and their episode in Afghanistan is almost over. Now, though, it looks like the US is calling its operation in Pakistan an actual war.

­Only one day after American officials announced that US troops executed an alleged al-Qaeda higher-up with a drone strike in Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters on Wednesday that America’s fair-weather ally is indeed serving as a battlefront in the War on Terror.

“We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” Secretary Panetta said this week. Panetta was referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a region in northwest Pakistan that is currently the scene of American airstrikes.

Since well before the top-secret raid and execution of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden brought US troops into Pakistan, the American military has tried time and time again to sugarcoat its activities overseas. Despite being an at-one-time top ally of the United States, Pakistani officials have continuously condemned the US over Uncle Sam’s continuing air strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Now after years of trying to re-develop those deteriorating ties with Pakistan, the United States’ top military man flatly called his country’s operations in FATA an actual war.

To put it simply, this might not be good news for anyone.

While Panetta’s comment came only a day after the Pentagon confirmed that al-Qaeda’s “number-two in command,” Abu Yahya al-Libi, was executed with a drone strike in the FATA region, it also coincides — coincidently — with a statement made by another former CIA official. Robert Greiner, the one-time head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, tells reporters this week that America’s mishandling of drone attacks is creating a safe haven for terrorists.

In a report published this week by the UK’s Guardian, Greiner says that ongoing attacks that target a broad and often unspecific range of targets is causing anti-American sentiments to increase faster than the US can actually combat terror. After the US has increased its air strikes in locales such as Pakistan and Yemen, says Greiner, insurgency has only become more rampant.

Because the Obama administration has gone on the record to say that all military-age men in strike zone are considered combatants, Greiner believes that unrest with the US is adding up at a rate that repeated strikes won’t help.

“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,” says Greiner.

“That brings you to a place where young men, who are typically armed, are in the same area and may hold these militants in a certain form of high regard. If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger. They have tribes and clans and large families. Now all of a sudden you have a big problem … I am very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

 

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Last warning? Panetta threatens Pakistan

Only days after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted that American troops are engaged in a war in rural northwest Pakistan, the Pentagon’s top-dog says that the United States is losing patience with their once amiable ally.

Secretary Panetta tells reporters and military leaders from Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday that the United States’ relationship with Pakistan is being put to the test because he feels like officials there are all too willing to take in insurgents from neighboring Afghanistan.

“It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan,” Panetta says Thursday.

“It is very important for Pakistan to take steps. It is an increasing concern, the issue of safe haven, and we are reaching the limits of our patience,” Panetta adds in his Thursday briefing.

It’s been more than a decade since the United States military began an occupation in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda, a mission that has necessitated a cooperative relationship between the US and Pakistan. As tensions worsen between those countries, though, Panetta suggests that the United States might soon hit a snapping point. Particularly, Panetta is at odds over Pakistan’s own handling with America’s enemies.

Just one day before his latest address, Panetta said during an intelligence briefing on Wednesday, “We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a region in northwest Pakistan. The US has long urged Pakistani officials to patrol the region themselves but that request has regularly been ignored by authorities who fear any state intervention can spur a civil war. Panetta’s citing of America’s own endeavors there as a “war” is believed to be the first time that a top-ranking defense official has declared the lengthy military operations in Pakistan as such. America’s interest in that war is not being aided sufficiently but its host country, however, because Panetta has now twice in one week had harsh words for Pakistan.

Earlier in the week, former CIA official Robert Greiner told the UK’s Guardian that America’s unrelenting drone-led air strikes on suspected terrorists is “creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield” and suggested that it is creating a safe haven for insurgents in neighboring Yemen.

“That brings you to a place where young men, who are typically armed, are in the same area and may hold these militants in a certain form of high regard. If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger,” said Greiner.

In his own address from Kabul, Panetta says that creation of safe havens in Pakistan will put the pressure on American troops to crack down on insurgency, even if that means attacking within the borders of its Middle East ally.

“It is an increasing concern that safe havens exist and those like the Haqqanis make use of that to attack our forces,” explains Panetta.

“We are reaching the limits of our patience for that reason. It is extremely important for Pakistan to take action to prevent (giving) the Haqqanis safe havens, and for terrorists to use their country as a safety net to conduct attacks on our forces.”

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