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South Asia Security Monitor - No. 299

Afghans to spy on own security forces;
Clock ticking on admin to designate Haqqanis terrorists;
Unrest in Assam

Edited by Jeff M. Smith and Amanda Sawit
August 27, 2012

In an effort to combat insurgent infiltration in the country’s armed forces after a rash of “green-on-blue” attacks on Coalition troops, Afghan officials have pledged to spy on their own police and army recruits. The new measures include the deployment of undercover intelligence officers to Afghan troop units across the country, increased phone surveillance, and a ban on cellphone usage among new recruits. Afghan officials have blamed the string of violent acts on foreign spy agencies operating from neighboring nations. This assessment contradicts investigations conducted by NATO, which conclude that only about 1 in 10 of the insider killings was directly linked to infiltration by Taliban insurgents. The New York Times reported that most of the attacks have resulted from personal disputes, stress or cultural clashes. (The New York Times, August 22, 2012; The Washington Post, August 20 2012)


A recent article published by the Heritage Foundation calls on the Obama administration to officially designate the Haqqani network, the deadliest militant group in Af-Pak and a close ally of the Taliban, as a terrorist organization. The Congress recently passed a bill requiring the administration to either designate the group a terrorist organization within 30 days, or provide a detailed explanation if it chooses not to. The administration has been divided over the issue, with some arguing against the designation as the group would be crucial to any future negotiated settlement. The article, authored by Lisa Curtis, asserts that ruling the Haqqani as a terrorist group would bring much-needed clarity to US policy on Afghanistan. She argues this would be particularly effective if the U.S. followed up the designation by applying greater military pressure to compel participation in peace talks. (The Heritage Foundation, August 21 2012)

Ethnic clashes between tribal Bodos and Bengali Muslims in the Indian state of Assam continue to feed civil unrest and have stretched to the Bangladeshi border, even after a month of violence. The region has been brewing with volatile tension for years as the Bodos and Muslims compete for the same land and living space. A mass exodus of thousands of people fearing attacks has prompted Indian authorities to crackdown on social networking sites. The Indian government has accused Pakistan of scaremongering migrant workers by posting threatening and inflammatory content online. Federal detectives have also been sent to the area to investigate the 77-plus deaths. (BBC, August 10, 2012,  BBC, August 22 2012; Hindustan Times, August 24, 2012; The New York Times, July 26, 2012)


U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell recently told The Wall Street Journal that while the country’s continuing violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas was surprising, it does not change the U.S. view on sanctions. Tensions between the ethnic minority Rohingya and Buddhists in Rhakine state have resulted in at least 88 deaths in recent months, garnering international attention and criticism. Last month the U.S. eased some sanctions on investment in the country, though it also extend a ban on imports. An influx of interest and investment by outsiders since the reform process began last year has prompted some, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to advocate for caution while engaging with the still-fragile democracy. (The Guardian, August 20 2012; The Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2012)

Related Categories: South Asia; South Asia Program

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