In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, tensions between Washington and Islamabad continued to rise. The New York Times is reporting that Pakistani officials have released the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad. His name was published in a conservative newspaper earlier today, spelled phonetically. This marks the 2nd time in 5 months that a CIA station chief station in Islamabad has been outed by Pakistani authorities. The previous station chief was identified in the media and court papers after a lawsuit was brought against him which alleged wrongful death in a CIA drone strike. He subsequently fled Pakistan after receiving a number of death threats.
Meanwhile today, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, said that ‘allegations of complicity or incompetence are absurd.’ He further warned that any additional US unilateral action within Pakistan would be met with ‘full force.’ While both the US and Pakistan say they want to continue their strategic partnership, the recent public volleys mark a low point in the relationship between the two governments.
On days I don’t have a post prepared but still feel the need to update, I’ll post some relevant news articles and let others do the talking for me.
Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) meets with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Egypt.
Palestine: Hamas and Fatah, the two Palestinian factions, have reached a unity agreement. This is no doubt an important step towards getting state recognition for Palestine. Al Jazeera has an article on Netanyahu’s take on the deal. (spoiler: He doesn’t like it) Britain and France seemed to welcome the developments. Hamas, however, is still listed as a terrorist organization on the US State Department’s website and publicly mourned the recent death of Osama bin Laden.
Afghanistan/Pakistan: The New York times has a brief but interesting article regarding the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Libya: A prosecutor for the ICC has petitioned for an arrest warrant for Gaddafi and two others for war crimes. While the prosecutor specifically cited examples of systematically killing unarmed civilians, there have also been recent allegations that pro-Gaddafi soldiers are using rape as a weapon against the Libyan populace.
South Korea/North Korea: South Korea has conducted a routine artillery exercise on islands near the disputed sea boundary line with North Korea. The North did not publicly respond to the exercise but some aspect of the impoverished nation will likely be a topic for the next update, so I thought I’d link this.
Osama bin Laden is dead, killed at the hands of a US Navy SEAL team in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Despite initial claims to the contrary, Pakistani officials had no prior knowledge of the operation and they are undoubtedly going to face tough questions over the upcoming days and weeks. Abbottabad is a city of 100,000 people only 80 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The complex Bin Laden had been living in was several times larger than any of the neighboring properties and, despite the apparent affluence of its inhabitants, lacked both telephone and internet connections. The outside walls are up to 18 feet tall in some places and covered in barbed wire and the residents burned their trash instead of leaving it outside for pickup.
It seems impossible that the Pakistani government could not have known of Bin Laden’s presence here. While President Obama did give a shout-out to Pakistan for its ‘cooperation’ in his announcement last night, the revelation that Osama bin Laden had been hiding out in a Pakistani city less than two hours away from Islamabad – and not some tribal region cave along the border – could not have come at a worse time for US-Pakistan relations. The ongoing drone strikes targeted at militants along the border with Afghanistan, the recent arrest of admitted CIA contractor Raymond Davis, and the ever-present American sentiment that Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence agency, is actively aiding the insurgency in Afghanistan have all led to a massive cooling of relations between the two nations. It will be interesting to see what effect the raid on Bin Laden’s compound has on the US-Pakistan partnership and, indeed, the war on terror.