It is immaterial for purposes of this piece that America’s contemplated bribing of the Af-Pak terrorists will not bring it peace. The nature of Al-Qaeda terrorism against America has changed from the spectacular (9/11) to the individual.
Here, every disaffected American Muslim is seen by the Al-Qaeda as a potential recruit. Probably fighting a long war in Afghanistan with the present constraints won’t change this reality. But bribes won’t either.
India’s trouble comes from the certainty that a substantial portion of the bribe money given to the Pakistan military and ISI will be ploughed back into the terrorist campaign against it. It has happened in the past with American aid to Pakistan and it will repeat.
This writer won’t discuss India’s counter options. But at a minimum, as mentioned in the first paragraph, this country will have to push up its defenses against terrorism with a profound accent on preventive intelligence.
But there is the Iran angle which complicates matters. Iran is opposed to the Sunni Al-Qaeda/ Taliban. But to spite the Americans, it has provided material support to the Af-Pak terrorists.
While Iran will be pleased with the American drawdown from Afghanistan, it will have to fill the vacuum there to the limits of its ability to protect its interests. It will have to do the same (it is already doing so) in Iraq where again America is withdrawing.
As analyzed by this writer earlier, the unintended beneficiary of the US war in Iraq has been Iran. Iran has become the pre-eminent power in the region. Most fearful of Iran’s rise is Saudi Arabia, which is loathed by the ruling Iranian clergy.
Without provoking another American intervention in the region (after leaving Iraq), Iran will do everything to destabilize Saudi Arabia to establish its supremacy. In the Al-Qaeda, Iran has a powerful instrument to torment the Saudi rulers. Alongwith the Americans, Iran would be tempted to nurse the Al-Qaeda but against Saudi Arabia just enough to soften its opposition to it.
At some stage, the competitive bribers, the US and Iran, will clash, because Saudi Arabia is a key American ally. The clash may be localized to the Af-Pak region or could manifest in the Middle East where the Al-Qaeda conceivably radiates with Iran’s assistance.
With all this money and arms flowing, and with emerging competing interests, the Sunni terrorist movement will splinter, leading to a bloodbath. To the extent that the internal terrorist war (with the Shia forces joining the fray) is located in Af-Pak and within Pakistan proper, Pakistan will be affected. It will further descend into turmoil and destruction.
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