21 November, 2006

Losing the War on Terror.

For the moment at least, all is not going well for the west in the War on Terror. In both the Iraqi and Afghanistan theatres, the local tides appear to be turning in favour of the Islamic terrorists. At best, Iraq seems to be fracturing into a loosely federal solution, almost certainly to be followed sooner or later by a three-way war civil war between Sunni, Shia and Kurd provinces. In Afghanistan, the Taliban, secure in their newly "conquered" power bases in western Pakistan, seem likely to come out of the forthcoming Afghan national jirga with some sort of formal role in the governance of Afghanistan.

Outside the main combat theatres, the news is just as bad for President Bush. The weakening of the President's authority by the recent Democrat election success has left the president increasingly isolated, both at home and abroad. In the US, the Democrats, with support from the predominantly anti-Republican media, want to withdraw from Iraq but are not quite sure how to achieve this. The Iraq Study Group is reported to be considering a phased withdrawal from Iraq. Moreover, even the Pentagon is not sure how to proceed. Quite shortly, Bush will have make a decision on what comes next. The President's decision will not be made any easier by the UK government, which has signalled its abandonment of the "Bush Doctrine" in favour of returning to the old ways of appeasement through accommodating terrorist states, for example Iran and Syria.

Iran and Syria, buoyed by the recent relative successes of their client Hezbollah in Lebanon, appear to have partly pre-empted Prime Minister Blair's suggestion that they should be persuaded to become partners in helping solve Iraq's insurgency problem. The Independent reports that President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran has invited Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President, and Syrian leader Bashar Assad to a meeting in Teheran to discuss ending the violence in Iraq.

The two neighbours have the most influence on events in Iraq, Iran through its close ties with leading Shia militias that control swaths of the country, especially in the south; and Syria because of its role as conduit and safe haven, for terrorists and the Sunni insurgents.

The summit has clearly been deliberately timed to coincide with the reshaped political debate here after the Democratic mid-term election triumph, and the announcement of policy reviews by the Pentagon and the White House
From a European perspective there is the added danger of defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq leading to Islamic extremists making more and more demands on western society which the politicians will feel unable to resist for fear of a French-style intifada. The simple fact is that surrendering to extremist only encourages them to make further demands. The War on Terror is a war in defence of west and that is why the west cannot afford to lose.

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