Monday, December 22, 2014


Pakistan

U.S. To Blacklist Haqqani Network

The group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani (in a 1998 photo), is now considered the No. 1 threat to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani (in a 1998 photo), is now considered the No. 1 threat to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
By RFE/RL
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she has notified the U.S. Congress that she is designating the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization.

The designation will trigger sanctions against an organization that U.S. officials blame for high-profile attacks in Afghanistan.

Clinton's decision to blacklist the Haqqani network, which U.S. officials have accused of having ties to the Pakistani state, could heighten tensions between Washington and Islamabad. Pakistan denies having links with the Haqqani network.

According to Ahmad Sayeedi, a former Afghan diplomat in Pakistan and a regional analyst, this latest development puts Pakistan in a delicate position. 

"Undoubtedly, certain groups -- especially the [Inter-Services Intelligence agency] -- have had close and long-lasting relations with the Haqqani network. They consider Haqqani's network as a powerful means to push forward the national interests of Pakistan and this is still going on," Sayeedi says.

"But now Pakistan has no choice but to act in a way that will be trusted by the United States. Pakistan no longer has the power to act in a confrontational and adventurous way. Pakistan should accept the fact that, if it is not going to create trust with the United States, it will have a dangerous future."

Reconciliation Talks

The terrorist designation also could have far-reaching implications for efforts to start reconciliation talks with the Taliban.

Individuals from the Haqqani network were placed on the U.S. terrorist blacklist previously, but Washington had resisted blacklisting the entire group over concerns it would hamper attempted peace talks.

Sayeedi tells RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that Clinton's announcement shows Washington has given up hope of bringing the Haqqani leadership into peace negotiations.

"The U.S. has reached the conclusion that the Haqqani network is no longer useful for the peace and security process in Afghanistan," he says. "I think [the United States] is now trying to engage with those who are not the top groups. The groups led by Haqqani and [Taliban spiritual leader] Mullah Omar are turning their backs on peace talks and I think moderate groups are taking steps forward [toward peace talks]."

Sanctions under the U.S. terrorist blacklist formally take effect on September 14 -- after a seven-day waiting period -- when Clinton's report is published in the U.S. Federal
Register.

Ban On Providing Support

Once published, it will be illegal for any U.S. citizen or person within U.S. jurisdiction to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to anyone in the Haqqani network.

"Material support or resources" includes money, lodging, training, expert advice, safe houses, personnel, weapons, lethal substances, communications equipment or transportation.

The Haqqani network originated in Afghanistan during the mid-1970s and was nurtured by both the CIA and Pakistan's ISI during the 1980s as a mujahedin group fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Now operating on both side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, it is led by Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani -- its military commander during the Soviet occupation -- and his son, Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Badaruddin Haqqani, the younger brother of Sirajuddin and a commander of recent militant operations in Afghanistan, was reported dead last month in a U.S. drone strike.

The Taliban has issued conflicting statements about those reports, but Pakistan confirmed his death on August 29 and was backed by U.S. officials the next day.

The Haqqani family are Pashtuns from southeastern Afghanistan who belong to the Mezi clan of the Zadran tribe.

Attacks in Afghanistan linked to the Haqqani network include a June assault on a hotel near Kabul that killed 18 people and a siege last year of the U.S. Embassy.

According to the U.S.-based Combating Terrorism Center, the network is thought to be composed of several hundred core members and thousands of fighters with varying degrees of affiliation and loyalty.

Pentagon officials have estimated the group's size at 2,000 to 4,000 militants.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

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