J ALEXANDER THEIR, director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace, 11/30/09, Foreign Policy (Afghanistan is Still Worth the Fight, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/30/afghanistan_is_still_worth_the_fight)
We continue to face a determined and resourceful enemy that sees this conflict in cosmic terms. Eight years after the September 11 attacks, top al Qaeda leaders have evaded capture and have managed to plan or at least inspire significant terrorist attacks and numerous other plots in major Western cities. Although the planning, funding, training, and recruiting for future attacks may not necessarily happen only in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, increased operating space for militants in that region will make it easier and more likely.
This base remains practically and psychologically important to al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was born in the Pashtun belt, and intermarriage and familiarity make this the "home field" -- far more than Somalia or Yemen. The jihads that drove out the "infidel" British and Soviet empires were launched here, and success in driving out the Americans would immeasurably bolster the reputation and fortunes of the militants.
We need to see the context, as they do, in both local and global terms. At the local level, al Qaeda, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and other affiliated groups have very specific, concrete aims: to drive out the "occupiers" and overthrow the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, etc., replacing them with an Islamist caliphate. Such victories would yield territory and potentially other assets such as weapons and natural resources. On the global level, al Qaeda wants to be the standard- bearer for Islamic unity and triumph over Western hegemony. The re-Talibanization of Afghanistan would stand as a beacon for jihadist struggle against established powers from Egypt to Indonesia.
Wall Street Journal, 10/1/09, Opinion section (U.S. Credibility and Pakistan, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471504574443352072071822.html)
In an interview at the Journal's offices this week in New York, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi minced no words about the impact of a U.S. withdrawal before the Taliban is defeated. "This will be disastrous," he said. "You will lose credibility. . . . Who is going to trust you again?" As for Washington's latest public bout of ambivalence about the war, he added that "the fact that this is being debated—whether to stay or not stay—what sort of signal is that sending?" Mr. Qureshi also sounded incredulous that the U.S. might walk away from a struggle in which it has already invested so much: "If you go in, why are you going out without getting the job done? Why did you send so many billion of dollars and lose so many lives? And why did we ally with you?" All fair questions, and all so far unanswered by the Obama Administration. As for the consequences to Pakistan of an American withdrawal, the foreign minister noted that "we will be the immediate effectees of your policy." Among the effects he predicts are "more misery," "more suicide bombings," and a dramatic loss of confidence in the economy, presumably as investors fear that an emboldened Taliban, no longer pressed by coalition forces in Afghanistan, would soon turn its sights again on Islamabad. Mr. Qureshi's arguments carry all the more weight now that Pakistan's army is waging an often bloody struggle to clear areas previously held by the Taliban and their allies. Pakistan has also furnished much of the crucial intelligence needed to kill top Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in U.S. drone strikes. But that kind of cooperation will be harder to come by if the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan and Islamabad feels obliged to protect itself in the near term by striking deals with various jihadist groups, as it has in the past. Pakistanis have long viewed the U.S. through the lens of a relationship that has oscillated between periods of close cooperation—as during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s—and periods of tension and even sanctions—as after Pakistan's test of a nuclear device in 1998. Pakistan's democratic government has taken major risks to increase its assistance to the U.S. against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Mr. Qureshi is warning, in so many words, that a U.S. retreat from Afghanistan would make it far more difficult for Pakistan to help against al Qaeda.
Afghanistan Link Withdrawal would make the US look weak and inspire global terrorism
Mashaal Javed, Staff writer-Pakistani Spectator, 5/9/10, Pakistani Spectator (US Withdrawal and Its Implications, http://www.pakspectator.com/us-withdrawal-and-its-implications/)
The exasperated American surge-and-exit strategy reflects the increased frustration of the western alliance resulting out of its failure in bringing stability to Afghanistan. The exit part of any military strategy surly materializes successfully however, the stability part post withdrawal or exit of the affected country always remained dicey and similarly in case of Afghanistan, the case would not be any different as the exit would not yield any long term stability. To add to the frustration, the Dutch government’s debacle over the issue of withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, indicate the mood of the western public over the issue. Also, the fact that no other country has come forward to-date to replace the Dutch forces in Afghanistan makes it evident that the withdrawal will be there soon. The withdrawal though, may portray America as weak but it has no choice since prolonging the stay any more would still tantamount to weakness any way. The withdrawal of the foreign forces may not be wholesome but in parts over five to six years. Still, one might see presence of a few thousands of them at the end, typically on the lines of Iraqi, withdrawal.
However, in the time leading up to the phased withdrawal, there are more fervent public voices calling for immediate withdrawal of their respective forces from Afghanistan. Amongst the rising tide of like minded people in favour of withdrawal, there are some lonely voices too that are heard on and off calling for continuation of deployment of Western forces in Afghanistan. This segment of the society is skeptical of post withdrawal scenario in Afghanistan.
The apprehensions on the withdrawal are many. The most important geopolitical repercussion of the withdrawal being cited would be the perception that America stands defeated in the long drawn Afghan war. The others include the perception that the withdrawal will lead to the Taliban returning to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban allowing al-Qaeda renewed access to the country, and al-Qaeda making use of Afghanistan to successfully attack the West again.
The withdrawal will have its implications on Pakistan too and as such, it must prepare itself to confront all challenges emerging out of the event and exert its weight in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan. This will be all the more difficult as other countries like India and Iran will ,also be vying to get some stakes in Afghanistan upon withdrawal of foreign forces from there. Some of the scenarios that might develop out of the situation then would be discussed hereafter in this article.
The Northern Alliance would continue to be supported by Russia, India and Iran in the post withdrawal Afghanistan. The Pashtuns who ruled Afghanistan for over 200 years, having been denied their due right in the Afghan polity under US occupation, would resist the dominance of the Northern Alliance with the tacit support of its war time friends for Kabul that may result in further blood shed. Pakistan may again face the burden of the refugees and a destabilized Afghanistan yet again which would be detrimental to its overall security.
Since there exists a lot of disparity within the Afghan society, the afghan strife will continue that may lead to formation of fresh alliances between the various Afghan factions to develop some equilibrium which resultantly prolong instability in Afghanistan. The interim period would be exploited by India to cement its foot hold in Afghan affairs much to the detriment of Pakistan’s interests.
The withdrawal may also encourage fundamentalists and extremists world over who may be inspired by the resilience of Afghans and their success in forcing foreign military powers out of their lands and as such adopt as means of achieving victories.
Afghanistan Link U.S. presence is needed to maintain stability in Afghanistan and prevent proliferation.
Kagan, Robert. Senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Obama’s Year One. World Affairs, January-February 2010. http://www.metapress.com/content/2241p3l6j2264600/
President Obama’s policies toward Afghanistan and Iran—or lack thereof—have received more attention than any other issues during his first year in office. And with good reason. An American defeat in Afghanistan would throw an already dangerous region further into turmoil and severely damage America’s reputation for reliability around the world. Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would bring about a substantial shift in the regional power balance against the United States and its allies, spark a new round of global proliferation, provide a significant boost to the forces of Islamic radicalism, and bring the United States that much further under the shadow of nuclear terrorism. If Obama’s policies were to produce a geopolitical doubleheader—defeat in Afghanistan and a nuclear-armed Iran—his historical legacy could wind up being a good deal worse than that of his predecessor.
Middle East Link U.S. omnipresence in the Middle East is the only factor keeping Iran in check-withdrawal could risk Iranian assertion of dominance around neighboring countries.
Perthes, Volker (Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and Excecutive Chairman of the Board of SWP) 'Ambition and Fear: Iran’s Foreign Policy and Nuclear Programme', Survival, 52:3, 95 – 114 June 2010.
Iran clearly sees itself as a regional great power, and Iranian officials have indicated more than once that Iran expects the world to recognise it as such.4 Tehran therefore does not see any reason why it should not have the same right as the United States, the European Union (EU), Saudi Arabia or Egypt to make its influence felt in such places as Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran's regional position has certainly been strengthened since the overthrow of the Taliban and the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2001 and 2003 respectively, and its geopolitical reach into the Levant was clearly demonstrated, though not for the first time, during the summer 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hizbullah. Iranian influence in the Gaza Strip has become much stronger since other international and regional actors have refused to engage with the de facto Hamas government there, and Iran's political influence in Lebanon is accepted, though not welcomed, by the Arab states. Moreover, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was admitted, if more or less at his own invitation, as a guest at the 2007 summit meeting in Qatar of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional grouping of the monarchies on the Arabian Peninsula. The United States itself recognises the importance of Iran, not least for its potential influence over developments in Iraq and Afghanistan.5 At the same time, Iran has had plenty of reasons to feel more strategically uncomfortable in recent years, given that since 2003 it has been virtually surrounded by the United States. An Iranian policymaker studying a map of the region could not help but notice that US combat troops are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan; the US fleet is ploughing the waters of the Gulf; Turkey is a NATO member; the US military is supporting non-NATO ally Pakistan; and even Azerbaijan is engaged in military cooperation with the United States, as well as with Israel. In addition, Iran finds itself between two nuclear-armed states, Pakistan and Israel (India's nuclear arms do not raise concern in Iran), of which the former is a direct neighbour and fragile state with strong Sunni fundamentalist currents that sometimes give rise to anti-Shi'ite violence, and the latter an enemy. Iran has no regional allies except for Syria, which is a long-standing partner, but which could easily change allegiances as other options emerged. U.S. deterrence plays a key role in preventing Iran from going nuclear.
Perthes, Volker (Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and Excecutive Chairman of the Board of SWP) 'Ambition and Fear: Iran’s Foreign Policy and Nuclear Programme', Survival, 52:3, 95 – 114 June 2010.
Finally, the United States and Europe need to answer the main question posed by those who are sceptical of the entire diplomatic process: what if Iran crosses the line and gains a military nuclear capability? Even though Iran has not yet reached this point and may not intend to eventually cross the line, theanswer, in principle, lies in the concept of extended deterrence - in credible US security guarantees for its friends in the Middle East. The deployment of missile-defence systems on US vessels in the Persian Gulf sends an important message: it enhances the security of Israel and of the smaller Gulf states while clearly signalling to Iran that Washington will stand by its friends, but does not withdraw the possibility of future engagement.
Iraq Link Iran fills in Iraq power vaccuum
Reuteurs, Dec 18 2009 ( World’s largest international multimedia news agency, Iraq demands Iran withdraw troops from oilfield, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5BH1Y920091218)
A senior engineer from Maysan Oil Company, which operates the field, said Iranian troops had taken temporary control of one of the field's seven wells, an inoperative well in a disputed border area, four or five times this year.
"Iranian forces come to this well periodically, and then at daybreak they withdraw. They are provoking us ... I don't know why this is a big deal this time," he said, on condition of anonymity.
OIL PRICE RISES
The benchmark U.S. light crude oil future moved to a high of $74.69 per barrel at 9:14 a.m. EST (1414 GMT), up from $73.31 at 6:08 a.m. EST (1108 GMT) before the first reports.
The incident came a few days after the Iraqi Oil Ministry awarded leading global energy firms contracts to operate seven oil fields in its second tender since the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Iraq, whose oil sector is scarred by years of sanctions and war, says such deals may eventually lift capacity to 12 million barrels per day, putting it nearly on par with Saudi Arabia and far above Iran's output of around 4 million barrels per day.
But as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw by 2012, foreign firms must grapple with persistent violence, political feuds and legal uncertainties dogging large-scale investments.
The government has been struggling to respond to a spate of attacks, the last of which killed up to 112 last week in Baghdad, aimed at destabilizing Iraq ahead of March 7 elections.
Ties between Iraq and neighboring Iran, which fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, have improved since a Shi'ite-led government took over in Baghdad following the ousting of Sunni Arab leader Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Yet relations are tested in areas like eastern Maysan, just one of many flashpoints of continuing disagreement over shared borders between the majority Shi'ite Muslim neighbors.
The bilateral relationship is all the more delicate given Washington and Tehran's standoff over Iran's nuclear program and the presence of 115,000 U.S. soldiers on Iraqi soil.
U.S. officials said they were aware of the border incident but there were no U.S. forces in the area.
Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told al-Arabiya TV: "Iraq will not give up its oil wealth, no matter the reason."
The U.S.-based Eurasia group said in its analysis the conflict was unlikely to escalate or interrupt Iraqi oil output.
"It is likely indicative of longer term Iranian worries about the effect on oil prices of increased Iraqi oil production and it is perhaps a demonstration by Tehran that -- amid rising international pressure over Iran's nuclear program -- it retains the ability to meddle in Iraq."
Iraq Link Withdrawal of U.S. troops causes regional power vacuum and aids Iran in its nuclear and regional interests causing long term instability.
Continetti 2008 (Matthew, May 18th , associate editor of The Weekly Standard, The Iran challenge, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/199woivn.asp?page=2)
Thus Obama would make an offer that the Iranians have repeatedly rejected, except he would do it in person--at a historic summit, a propaganda coup for the mullahs. Only after they refused the offer--again--would Obama "ratchet up the pressure." We would be back where we started, except the Iranian regime would have denied the leader of the Great Satan's demands in person. This would not only be embarrassing. It would mean more leverage for Tehran.
Obama's "responsible, phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq" would also redound to Iran's strategic benefit. The policy would erase the security and political gains the United States and its Iraqi allies have made in the last year and a half. It would lead to more violence, not less, and to a weaker Iraqi government, not a stronger one. It would breathe new life into the radicals--many sponsored by the Iranian regime--who seek a failed state in Iraq. And Tehran would quickly move to fill any power vacuum that the Americans left behind in Iraq.
Why on earth, then, would the supreme leader of Iran, seeing the U.S. president knocking on his door--a supplicant--and U.S. troops retreating from Iraq, be moved to negotiate with the United States? By what strategic calculus would he determine that that would be the time to give up his chips?
Ah, but we have entered the Obama zone, where conditions are not conditions, where Ahmadinejad is and is not really the leader of Iran, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guards isn't a terrorist group one year but is the next, where Iran is simultaneously a "tiny" and a "grave" threat, and where the absence of American combat troops in Iraq actually increases U.S. influence in the Middle East.
Here, doves are reborn as hawks, and liberals are turned into "pragmatists." And somehow the security of America and her allies will be enhanced by inadvertently promoting the interests of her enemies.
Iraq Link Iran has already set up strong ties with Middle Eastern governments from Iraq to Afghanistan; it is simply waiting for the U.S. to move its military from these areas so it can fill in as regional hegemon.
Taheri,2009(Amir, May 5th, Iranian-born journalist based in Europe, and author of The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124139838660282045.html)
Convinced that the Obama administration is preparing to retreat from the Middle East, Iran's Khomeinist regime is intensifying its goal of regional domination. It has targeted six close allies of the U.S.: Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait and Jordan, all of which are experiencing economic and/or political crises.
Iranian strategists believe that Egypt is heading for a major crisis once President Hosni Mubarak, 81, departs from the political scene. He has failed to impose his eldest son Gamal as successor, while the military-security establishment, which traditionally chooses the president, is divided. Iran's official Islamic News Agency has been conducting a campaign on that theme for months. This has triggered a counter-campaign against Iran by the Egyptian media.
Last month, Egypt announced it had crushed a major Iranian plot and arrested 68 people. According to Egyptian media, four are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Tehran's principal vehicle for exporting its revolution.
Seven were Palestinians linked to the radical Islamist movement Hamas; one was a Lebanese identified as "a political agent from Hezbollah" by the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah, claimed these men were shipping arms to Hamas in Gaza.
The arrests reportedly took place last December, during a crackdown against groups trying to convert Egyptians to Shiism. The Egyptian Interior Ministry claims this proselytizing has been going on for years. Thirty years ago, Egyptian Shiites numbered a few hundred. Various estimates put the number now at close to a million, but they are said to practice taqiyah (dissimulation), to hide their new faith.
But in its campaign for regional hegemony, Tehran expects Lebanon as its first prize. Iran is spending massive amounts of cash on June's general election. It supports a coalition led by Hezbollah, and including the Christian ex-general Michel Aoun. Lebanon, now in the column of pro-U.S. countries, would shift to the pro-Iran column.
In Bahrain, Tehran hopes to see its allies sweep to power through mass demonstrations and terrorist operations. Bahrain's ruling clan has arrested scores of pro-Iran militants but appears more vulnerable than ever. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has contacted Arab heads of states to appeal for "urgent support in the face of naked threats," according to the Bahraini media.
The threats became sensationally public in March. In a speech at Masshad, Iran's principal "holy city," Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, a senior aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described Bahrain as "part of Iran." Morocco used the ensuing uproar as an excuse to severe diplomatic relations with Tehran. The rupture came after months of tension during which Moroccan security dismantled a network of pro-Iran militants allegedly plotting violent operations.
Iran-controlled groups have also been uncovered in Kuwait and Jordan. According to Kuwaiti media, more than 1,000 alleged Iranian agents were arrested and shipped back home last winter. According to the Tehran media, Kuwait is believed vulnerable because of chronic parliamentary disputes that have led to governmental paralysis.
As for Jordan, Iranian strategists believe the kingdom, where Palestinians are two-thirds of the population, is a colonial creation and should disappear from the map -- opening the way for a single state covering the whole of Palestine. Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have both described the division of Palestine as "a crime and a tragedy."
Arab states are especially concerned because Tehran has succeeded in transcending sectarian and ideological divides to create a coalition that includes Sunni movements such as Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, sections of the Muslim Brotherhood, and even Marxist-Leninist and other leftist outfits that share Iran's anti-Americanism.
Information published by Egyptian and other Arab intelligence services, and reported in the Egyptian and other Arab media, reveal a sophisticated Iranian strategy operating at various levels. The outer circle consists of a number of commercial companies, banks and businesses active in various fields and employing thousands of locals in each targeted country. In Egypt, for example, police have uncovered more than 30 such Iranian "front" companies, according to the pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq Alawsat. In Syria and Lebanon, the numbers reportedly run into hundreds.
In the next circle, Iranian-financed charities offer a range of social and medical services and scholarships that governments often fail to provide. Another circle consists of "cultural" centers often called Ahl e Beit (People of the House) supervised by the offices of the supreme leader. These centers offer language classes in Persian, English and Arabic, Islamic theology, Koranic commentaries, and traditional philosophy -- alongside courses in information technology, media studies, photography and filmmaking.
Wherever possible, the fourth circle is represented by branches of Hezbollah operating openly. Where that's not possible, clandestine organizations do the job, either alone or in conjunction with Sunni radical groups.
The Khomeinist public diplomacy network includes a half-dozen satellite television and radio networks in several languages, more than 100 newspapers and magazines, a dozen publishing houses, and thousands of Web sites and blogs controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The network controls thousands of mosques throughout the region where preachers from Iran, or trained by Iranians, disseminate the Khomeinist revolutionary message.
Tehran has also created a vast network of non-Shiite fellow travelers within the region's political and cultural elites. These politicians and intellectuals may be hostile to Khomeinism on ideological grounds -- but they regard it as a powerful ally in a common struggle against the American "Great Satan."
Khomeinist propaganda is trying to portray Iran as a rising "superpower" in the making while the United States is presented as the "sunset" power. The message is simple: The Americans are going, and we are coming.
Tehran plays a patient game. Wherever possible, it is determined to pursue its goals through open political means, including elections. With pro-American and other democratic groups disheartened by the perceived weakness of the Obama administration, Tehran hopes its allies will win all the elections planned for this year in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
"There is this perception that the new U.S. administration is not interested in the democratization strategy," a senior Lebanese political leader told me. That perception only grows as President Obama calls for an "exit strategy" from Afghanistan and Iraq. Power abhors a vacuum, which the Islamic Republic of Iran is only too happy to fill.