3 years ago
From CBS News:
The Obama administration on Friday declared the insurgent Haqqani network a terrorist body, a move that could undermine Afghan peace efforts and test fragile U.S.-Pakistani relations.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she notified Congress of her decision, which bans Americans from doing any business with members of the Pakistan-based militant group and blocks any assets it holds in the United States.
“We also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organization’s ability to execute violent attacks,” she said in a statement.
According to a senior U.S. official, it will likely take seven to 10 days for the designation process to be completed. The Haqqani network has been behind a large number of the attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, and which U.S. officials have long pushed Pakistan’s leaders to target more aggressively.
Designating the Haqqani network a terrorist organization is a complicated political decision as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan and pushes for a reconciliation pact to end more than a decade of warfare.
Enraged by a string of high-profile attacks on U.S. and NATO troops, Congress set a Sunday deadline for the administration to make a decision. U.S. officials say there were disagreements within the administration over what to decide.
The U.S. already has placed sanctions on many Haqqani leaders and is targeting its members militarily but has held back from formally designating the al Qaeda-linked network a terrorist group amid concerns about hampering peace efforts in Afghanistan and U.S. relations with Pakistan.
The Haqqani network is also believed to be holding U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl captive – the only U.S. service member held by militants in the region.
Analysis & Commentary
This move shows the degree of disconnectedness from reality of the Afghanistan campaign. We are ten years into the effort, and as my coverage has shown, Jalaluddin Haqqani, his son Sirajuddin, and their network of fighters, have been at the center of the problem from the beginning. His camps trained al Qaeda fighters, and it was from Haqqani that many of the jihadists from around the globe learned their military skills.
They are ensconced in the Hindu Kush in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and freely operate against U.S. forces from both sides of the border. They have done so for a decade, and are responsible for the most recent high profile attacks in Kabul. This interview of Sirajuddin Haqqani is remarkable for its content, in that the network currently operates regionally but thinks globally based on the ideals of Islamic jihad.
And yet it is still begudging. Note that there was debate within the administration as to whether this was undue presusre on our “ally,” Pakistan. The State Department took this action because of Congressional pressure. Within little more than one year, the bulk of U.S. forces will have been withdrawn from Afghanistan, and we are just now declaring one of their major military enemies to be a terrorist group.
This is a sign of desperation within the administration. Population-centric counterinsurgency and state-building has been a failure in Afghanistan, as has temporary imprisonment of fighters in the hopes of rehabilitating them (a distinctly American imagination, with the truth here also begrudgingly acknowledged by the plans to retain responsibility for more than 600 fighters even after turnover of the prisons to Afghan authorities).