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Benazir Bhutto - her assassination will
increase insecurity in the region

Two recent events have sent US policy in the Middle East into crisis. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, America’s favoured candidate for Pakistan’s January elections, has ensured that instability will prevail at a time when its previous ally, President Pervez Musharraf, has become a deeply unpopular and a political liability. Only, it seems, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, home-grown Islamic fundamentalists and elements of Pakistan’s security apparatus can hope to gain from this act. For US and British Middle East policy, Bhutto’s pledge to crackdown on militants using the North West Frontier Province and South Waziristan was seen as a vital way to tip the balance of the war against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan. That strategy, like the rest of US and UK strategy in the area, now lies in tatters.

Where are Britain’s troops?
Operational   Non-Operational  
Afghanistan 7,800 Germany 22,000*
Bosnia/Kosovo 300 Cyprus 3,000


South Atlantic 1,250
UN missions 300 Gibraltar 340
Diego Garcia 40
Northern Ireland 5,000
* figure includes troops deployed in Iraq
Source: www.newsvote.bbc.co.uk

And on Pakistan’s western border, Bush’s plans have also been dealt a near-fatal blow. The drumbeat to war against Iran has been well and truly thwarted by a pre-emptive Benazir Bhutto - her assassination will increase insecurity in the region strike from the US intelligence Where are Britain’s troops? community. No strike from the US intelligence community. Noless than 16 USspy agencies (including the CIA) publishedthe National Intelligence Estimate in December 2007 stating unequivocally that Iran does not, after all, have a current nuclear weapons programme. This statement, whose publication Dick Cheney tried to block, was clearly the culmination of a wider struggle inside and outside the Bush Administration. The US intelligence community was determined never again to be the fall- guy for another failed foreign military escapade conducted on a false prospectus. A strike against Iran, or even tighter UN sanctions against that country, now look impossible in the final year of the Bush term of office, unless Israel decides to take unilateral action.

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