Middle East conflict is progressing and the peace process is key to prevent a conflict between the US and Iran
Daily Star 10 ( Lebanon/Middle East news, “Peace Progress is an illusion”, 7/19, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&article_id=117179&categ_id=17/MZ)
With the leaders of both Israel and the Palestinians meeting separately with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Sunday, and with both US envoy George Mitchell and the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also in the region, it might appear to a casual observer that progress is being made.The reality is in fact quite different. While it is true that the right people are talking – indirectly as the case may be – the negotiations represent a repetitive game of musical chairs, a series of photo opportunities rather than a concerted effort to actually negotiate for peace. As the so-called peace process continues at a snail’s pace, other conflicts and disputes in the region deteriorate as a result. The crisis between Iran and the West regarding its nuclear program gains momentum every day. For so much effort to be put into containing Iran without the same gumption being brought to the Israel-Palestine conflict, ignores the interconnected nature of the region, and goes some way to explaining why Iran has thus far not been deterred from abandoning nuclear enrichment. Elsewhere in the region, other threats to peace linger in the background, all-suffering from lack of progress in the peace process. Iraq’s political leaders have hitherto been unable to agree upon a coalition government to begin addressing the myriad problems it faces, not least the impending withdrawal of US forces. Tensions on our own border in the south of Lebanon, a war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a resurgence in clashes between Hamas and Israel – all contribute to the threat of conflict in the region. And yet while these problems move closer toward conflict, the peace process paces along listlessly. By all indications, the Iranian problem, along with many others in the region, cannot be solved until a serious effort is made on finding a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Despite the pessimism most of us have gained through experience, it would not be entirely mad to suggest that these meetings have the potential to surprise. The leaders who met in Cairo on Sunday do not need to look far for the answers to solving the conflict, all are aware of the conditions needed for peace and the parameters have been discussed many times. The only thing missing is the will of the various political groups involved.The question that then arises is whether Barack Obama is tough enough to pressure Israel into accepting the conditions that form the international consensus on solving the conflict – a return to the 1967 borders with a just resolution for Palestinian refugees. Without this kind of achievement, or at least some progress toward it, the US may find itself facing an uphill battle in trying to contain Iran,and in turn the two will continue to move further toward conflict with each other
NewsTime7/17 (7/17/10, " Clinton off to Afghanistan to define the conflict ", http://www.newstime.co.za/WorldNews/Clinton_off_to_Afghanistan_to_define_the_conflict/7828/)
Britain under new Prime Minister David Cameron has targeted the Afghan War as its international priority while the U.S. have relieved their commander and replaced him with General David Petreaus who oversaw a turnaround in Iraq. This however must be seen amid growing concerns about the war inAfghanistan in light of June proving to be the deadliest month since the conflict began. On Saturday a roadside bomb killed two NATO troops in the volatile south bringing July's death toll to 49 with 103 killed in June. Kabul, where the Afghan government will outline plans to bolster deteriorating security conditions, reintegrate militants into society and crack down on corruption. In addition Clinton will also visit Pakistan to push greater cooperation between Islamabad and Kabul. It has become common cause that a failure to control the border between the two could extend the war indefinitely. U.S. lawmakers are increasingly questioning the course of the war in Afghanistan as the death toll of U.S. and international forces rises and expressing greater concerns about corruption in the Afghan government.
Instability rising – Taliban surge
NYT7/2 (Richard A. Oppel, 7/2/10, " Afghan Bombers Storm US Aid Office ", http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/03/world/asia/03afghan.html?src=me)
KABUL, Afghanistan — Six militants armed with suicide bombs stormed the compound of an American contractor working for the United States Agency for International Development in the northern city of Kunduz on Friday, killing four security officers in an assault that left all the attackers dead, according to Afghan officials and the aid contractor. The Usaid compound in Kunduz after an attack by six suicide bombers. The security officers killed included one Briton, one German and two Afghans who worked for Edinburgh International, the firm guarding the Kunduz compound of D.A.I., a consulting company that contracts with the American development aid agency to help bolster governance, development and economic growth in other countries. The Kunduz assault was the latest in a string of Taliban attacks on foreign workers and compounds, especially those doing development work, in what has seemed to be a response to American and NATO forces increasing the pace of their military operations throughout the country.Many of these attacks have come in Kandahar, the hub of southern Afghanistan, where militants have been killing political leaders, foreign workers and their Afghan colleagues, including a young Afghan woman who worked for D.A.I. who was gunned down in April just a few hundred yards from her office as she drove home in a motorized rickshaw. Kunduz, one the country's major northern cities, is less volatile than Kandahar. But Kunduz Province has become increasingly contested over the past year as Taliban leaders have tried to consolidate their control of areas that until recently had been considered relatively safe. The Taliban quickly took credit for the attack, which began around 3 a.m. when the first bomber exploded his car at the gate of the compound. Five other suicide bombers raced inside the building, where they began firing rifles, said the governor of Kunduz Province, Mohammed Omar. He said at least 23 people were wounded, including police officers, guards and civilians. D.A.I. said several Edinburgh International and D.A.I. employees were wounded. The five other attackers all eventually died inside the building, according to the governor, but he did not make it clear whether they had been shot during a six-hour firefight or had blown themselves up. “The building has been destroyed,” Mr. Omar said. He also said six American employees trapped inside along with four security guards had been rescued by Afghan forces. There were unconfirmed reports that some employees fled to the roof of the building during the battle. The chief executive of D.A.I., James Boomgard, issued a statement praising Edinburgh International's defense of the compound as “nothing short of heroic.” The attack came before Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new American military commander in Afghanistan, arrived in Kabul on Friday evening along with Mark Sedwill, the former British ambassador to Afghanistan who now serves as the senior NATO civilian official in the country. General Petraeus, who led American troops in Iraq during the so-called surge in Iraq and had been the commander of the United States Central Command, was picked by President Obama last week to assume command in Kabul. The move followed the abrupt firing of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal after a Rolling Stone magazine article in which the general or members of his staff criticized Obama administration officials. German troops have been the major Western military force in the Kunduz region, but new American troops have been arriving in northern Afghanistan to bolster the NATO presence in Kunduz and other northern provinces. A NATO statement said the Kunduz attack “was an attempt to intimidate Afghans and members of the international community trying to improve the lives of all Afghans.” It said NATO troops were helping Afghan forces at the site and treating injured civilians at a nearby military base.
Stability increasing – British financial help
BBC news 6/18/10 (“Troops to stay in Afghanistan until 2014 says minister”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10678623)
Leaked documents to a Sunday newspaper suggested a timetable for a phased transition to Afghan forces could begin within months. But Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said 2014 remained the target for the handover of security control to Afghan forces. Earlier, it was revealed that aid to the country is to be increased by 40%. During and interview on the Andrew Marr Show, the defence secretary refused to comment on the Independent on Sunday's report on an accelerated timetable for troop withdrawals. "It has always been our aim to be successful in the mission, and the mission has always said that the Afghan national security forces would be able to deal with their own security by 2014," he said. Blueprint for withdrawal But he said only combat troops would be expected to be withdrawn at that time, with a continued presence likely for training. Mr Cameron's aim of 2015 was "quite conservative by comparison", he said. Dr Fox went on: "As you would expect I would not comment on any leaked document but a leaked draft document for a potential communique of a conference that hasn't yet happened is, I think, quite a leak." It has been reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will use a forthcoming international conference to publish a blueprint for the withdrawal of international troops by 2014. Meanwhile, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell outlined plans to increase spending on aid projects in Afghanistan by 40%. He told the Politics Show the government had been looking "very carefully" at the way money was being spent in Afghanistan. "We've found some additional funding from less good programmes, so in principle we have an additional 40% money going into the development budget," he said. Andrew Mitchell: "We will not balance the books on the backs of the poorest people in the world" It is believed the money for Afghanistan would be used to stabilise the most insecure areas, with more policing, emergency food and medicine, and thousands of job and training opportunities. Shadow International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander called on the minister to clarify exactly how the aid money would be spent. He said: "Thanks to the efforts of the last government, the UK was already the second-largest donor to Afghanistan and Helmand is already amongst the most heavily aided regions on earth. "The primary challenge in those areas affected by the insurgency has not been a lack of money but a lack of security." BBC deputy political editor James Landale said the government is "using foreign aid, not just to help people around the world but also to further British foreign policy". "That's quite a change. It's also an answer, perhaps, to MPs who ask why aid budgets are being protected when so many others are being cut," said our correspondent. The UK death toll in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 now stands at 322, with four British serviceman dying since Friday. At least three people were killed on Sunday by a suicide bomber in the Afghan capital Kabul. The bombing came despite heightened security across Kabul ahead of the international conference of foreign ministers on Tuesday. Foreign Secretary William Hague, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon are among those scheduled to attend.