Between the Crescent and the Anvil: HQN Ascendant by Bill Buppert

Not only has the Haqqani Network (HQN) contributed to the instability of the AfPak region against the occupation forces but appears to employ a global reach through a sophisticated network that facilitates and orchestrates both the auxiliary and military functions to contribute to a global jihad.  The decades long existence of the HQN creates a rather impermeable cellular organizational structure that reaches deeply into both non-state functionalities and investment in government relationships in Pakistan and beyond.

HQN appears to be masterful at “bridging” factional gaps to apply fighting power where it is needed most and takes a rare hands-on interest in suicide bombing and other harassment in Kabul.  Like so many emerging entities around the world, it is giving nationalist aspirations a back seat to non-state independence; this may be a harbinger of things to come. These tribal entities that straddle the Durand line are nation-state agnostic and will use whatever Machiavellian intrigue or means necessary to secure their goals and satisfy their strategic aims.  I would suggest that HQN even employs a grand strategic framework to paln for future operations. The tribal and blood-centric subsidiary structures that comprise the disparate resistance organizations in Afghanistan/Pakistan and the global outreach programs for jihad are extremely resilient and resist Western penetration at every turn.

The singular focus on the Quetta Shura Taliban by the Coalition forces in Afghanistan have left the HQN networks relatively intact and increased its strength and influence by actively degrading the Taliban.  Some observers nonetheless see the HQN having a tremendous regenerative power no matter how badly mauled by Western forces. Power loves a vacuum and the Coalition has behaved in the normal fashion of caring not for second and third order effects of pressures applied in certain regions of the Afghan theater.

“The Haqqani Network represents the most severe threat to U.S. national security interests and objectives in Afghanistan. The network’s practical and ideological partnerships with international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and their affiliates will undoubtedly continue and likely even increase as U.S. and coalition forces begin to withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network’s growing geographical footprint in concerning because it will allow for the facilitation and sheltering of al- Qaeda and its affiliates on a much larger scale. The Haqqani Network’s cross-border linkages with the Pakistani tribal areas will allow for the maintenance and expansion of a robust facilitation pipeline between the two countries in order to allow for regional and international terrorists to reconstitute and re-energize after years of punishing attacks from U.S. and coalition forces on both sides of the border.” [1]

Rassler and Brown are even more emphatic about the threat it poses to future Coalition activities in Afghanistan:

“Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan the Haqqani network has been essential to the rise — and geographic spread — of the Taliban insurgency inside Afghanistan. The value of Haqqani network contributions to the Taliban has been acknowledged by senior Taliban leaders, such as Mullah Dadullah, who — before his death in 2007 — confirmed the Haqqanis important role: “There is no doubt that Shaykh Haqqani and his son lead the battles and draw up military plans.”131 The Haqqani network’s leadership of the Miranshah Shura, and its representation on the Rahbari Shura — the Taliban’s central coordinating body, highlights the organization’s value to the Taliban as a trusted partner with primacy in Southeastern Afghanistan.” [2]

All of this assumes a continued US/Coalition presence in Afghanistan and the region which leads to observer effects and influences on the behavior of regional players to include the HQN.

HQN continues to yield a disproportionate influence in the region and by extension the world.  In the end, HQN may grow to be a more potent threat to American and Western interests than al-Qaeda especially if the US continues to think that meddling in the internal affairs of Middle Eastern nations is the only way to secure its safety or wield its influence.

The HQN provides an instructive model to resistance organizations around the globe.

[1] Dressler, Jeffrey. “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat.” Understanding War. https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[2] Brown and Rassler. 2011. The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of Al-Qaeda. Harmony Program. The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point.
https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/attachment/191745/Announcements/6ddb329a-20be-46e6-965b-7d067fe69c48/CTC-Haqqani-Report_Rassler-Brown-Final_Web.pdf .

 

Bill Buppert
thirdgun@hotmail.com
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