Pakistan: The Coming U.S. Strikes in Northwest Pakistan
Jul 19, 2007: STRATFOR
White House spokesman Tony Snow on July 19 declined to rule out the possibility of U.S. military strikes against suspected jihadist facilities in Pakistan. Responding to a query about whether U.S. President George W. Bush would seek permission from Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf before such operations, Snow said, "Those are matters that are best not discussed publicly." Snow's remarks come a day after NATO offered to help Pakistan in its offensive against Islamist militants in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the adjacent tribal belt.
These comments do not mean the United States is about to invade Pakistan. Rather, their purpose is to ensure that Musharraf delivers on his declaration of war against the jihadists. The recent operation to flush out militants from Islamabad's Red Mosque marked the start of a much-awaited campaign by the Pakistanis against Islamist militants in their country. Washington remains uncertain about how the Islamabad-jihadist confrontation will impact security and stability in Pakistan, so it is trying to ensure that al Qaeda and the Taliban get hammered in the process. Since at least January 2004, Stratfor has said the United States will take action in Pakistan, and Snow's comments represent the first direct remarks in this direction.
The stage is being set for a major joint U.S.-Pakistani operation in the South Asian country's northwest. In the heat of the coming battles between Pakistani security forces and jihadists in the NWFP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the United States will carry out its operations to minimize fallout. And the White House statement just made it all the more difficult for Musharraf to survive the political and militant crises afflicting his country.