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Fake News CNN: US nearing a formal agreement to use Pakistan's airspace to carry out military operations in Afghanistan

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Aspen

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(CNN) The Biden administration has told lawmakers that the US is nearing a formalized agreement with Pakistan for use of its airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan, according to three sources familiar with the details of a classified briefing with members of Congress that took place on Friday morning.
Pakistan has expressed a desire to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in exchange for assistance with its own counterterrorism efforts and help in managing the relationship with India, one of the sources said. But the negotiations are ongoing, another source said, and the terms of the agreement, which has not been finalized, could still change.
The briefing comes as the White House is still trying to ensure that it can carry out counterterrorism operations against ISIS-K and other adversaries in Afghanistan now that there is no longer a US presence on the ground for the first time in two decades after the NATO withdrawal from the country.

The US military currently uses Pakistan's airspace to reach Afghanistan as part of ongoing intelligence-gathering efforts, but there is no formal agreement in place to ensure continued access to a critical piece of airspace necessary for the US to reach Afghanistan. The air corridor through Pakistan to Afghanistan may become even more critical if and when the US resumes flights into Kabul to fly out American citizens and others who remain in the country. The third source said that an agreement was discussed when US officials visited Pakistan, but it's not yet clear what Pakistan wants or how much the US would be willing to give in return.

With no formal agreement currently in place, the US runs the risk of Pakistan refusing entry to US military aircraft and drones en route to Afghanistan.
A Pentagon spokesman said the Defense Department does not comment on closed briefings due to security classifications. CNN has reached out to the National Security Council, State Department and Pakistan embassy in Washington for comment.

Uzbekistan and Tajikistan 'long shot' options for over-the-horizon operations

At the same time, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are emerging as the top options for possible locations to establish a US military presence to conduct so-called over-the-horizon operations in Afghanistan, the sources said, but both would run into severe opposition from Russian President Vladimir Putin and some local politicians. "Both are long shots," one source said, calling them "likely pipe dreams due to needing Putin's blessing."
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited Uzbekistan earlier this month where she discussed "the way forward in Afghanistan" with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, according to a readout of the meeting.

Currently, the US conducts its over-the-horizon operations from bases in the Middle East, forcing drones to fly from distant bases, such as those in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, around Iran and through Pakistani air space before reaching Afghanistan. The lengthy flight limits the time drones can loiter over Afghanistan gathering intelligence, and the Biden administration has been looking for closer, more effective options.
The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, told lawmakers last month that he still has "the ability to look into Afghanistan," but it is "limited." McKenzie also said he was not confident in the US' ability to prevent ISIS and al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a launchpad for terrorist activity in the future.
"The US maintains ongoing ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities as needed to support the over-the-horizon and counter-terrorism mission requirements," a defense official told CNN. That includes not only drones, but also signals intelligence and cyber capabilities to monitor the situation in Afghanistan.

Biden promised US would maintain counterterrorism capability

President Joe Biden said in July, weeks before the evacuation from Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, that the US would maintain its ability to operate in the country, even if US troops were no longer on the ground.
"We are developing a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region, and act quickly and decisively if needed," he said on July 8.

But lawmakers have questioned the White House's ability to fulfil that promise. The Pentagon has repeatedly said the US can continue to fight terrorism in the region through over-the-horizon capabilities, but the Defense Department has not said where those capabilities will be headquartered in the region.
"They're building the plane as they fly it," one Senate aide told CNN of what Pentagon officials have shared about over-the-horizon plans.
On Thursday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the US is "in a worse place to understand and track the terrorist threats coming from Afghanistan," following a classified briefing on Afghanistan. The briefing included a discussion of over-the-horizon capabilities, according to a Senate Armed Services Committee aide.
Inhofe said in a statement that the briefing "confirmed" that the US "is now less safe than before Biden's disastrous decision to unconditionally and entirely withdraw from Afghanistan."

 
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Smoke

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1. Pakistani’s cry to give stern replies to the world.

2. Pakistani’s lose unity and solidarity the moment we face backlash from said action.

^ Welcome back, USA.
 

Chacha_Facebooka

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Something important to note--outlets like New York TImes, CNN etc are an extension of the U.S. foreign policy. I am curious about why this is coming out now, right after the Pakistani delegation's visit to Kabul.
 

Aspen

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I wonder what happened about Imran Khan saying drones are the most insane way of fighting terrorism. That quote will not age well and for sure come back to bite him.
 

monitor

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Pakistan already providing airspace to US for Afghanistan operation. a formal agreement will just continution of the informal understanding of counterterrorism e effort.
If Pakistan play the card well they can get some military benefit from the deal.
 

FuturePAF

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While unsavory (for all sides), the US should be very careful and coordinate its CT ops with local authorities, if it is indeed being allowed to exercise an over the horizon capability. The US can’t afford to lose a path to potentially one day reconcile with Afghanistan if there is any hope that it can get access to the minerals.

It’s what was discussed in congress today. A key part of the US’s new strategy of containing China is to not allow China to dominate any and all regions, from which it gather resources to better challenge the US. So US and western companies will have a chance to get equal access to mining bids, After the USGS has already spent $81 million dollars and 15 years surveying Afghan minerals, so that all these resources don’t get sold (on the cheap) to China and fuel their rise.

This is just another reason the US should coordinate on these kinds of threats with local countries, so they aren’t penny wise and dollar foolish. ISIS-K is everyone’s enemy, but killing innocent civilians is counterproductive and delegitimizing. It would be better to allow ONLY the Talibs to kill ISIS-K, even if it means they, the Talibs, take losses, and the US just provides covert drone footage to them (but doesn’t carry out kinetic attacks).

failure to do so could lead to more incidents like the one that killed that family of 10 in Kabul, and lose Afghanistan to the Chinese, which is much more important for the US’ national security.


 
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Mohsin A

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If this report is true, then im sorry to say that we are verily a beygairat nation of the highest order. Our forefathers who sacrificed everything for the creation of this state would be turning in their graves at the volatility and cheapness of our foreign policy.
 

Aneeq Rashid

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Why can't Pakistan strike isis k with support of taliban just like us would do? If US can do and it's acceptable then Pakistan should be able to openly strike isis k targets and may be some TTP/BLA/RAW target.
 

Goritoes

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Obviously not privy to any info, but I would imagine there are some goodies for sure
The outcome can be dangerous, Public outcry will happen but it comes around in the end when it comes to US... for the least I hope Pakistan get some stuff for its F-16's or Radars.
 

Aspen

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Pakistan already providing airspace to US for Afghanistan operation. a formal agreement will just continution of the informal understanding of counterterrorism e effort.
If Pakistan play the card well they can get some military benefit from the deal.
There will be no benefit from this, even if we do get benefits, it is not worth it to destabilize Afghanistan again for any price.

I cannot imagine who in Pakistan's military leadership was stupid enough to agree to this. Have they learned nothing from fiasco of last 20 years? Someone should be fired for allowing something this disastrous to happen. Pakistan foreign policy really is for sale, shameful. After all the false bravado of never allowing US to use Pakistan against Afghanistan again, few weeks later, massive U-turn, maximum hypocrisy. Imran Khan should just shut up next time to further avoid embarrassing us. If they had to do this, it was better to keep everything informal instead of publicly announcing it like this. Now Afghans will have a target on our back again and drone strike chaos will return to border areas like the good old days. And Biden still didn't even care enough to call IK. What a disaster.

First ISI chief playing politics, then negotiations with TTP, then FATF fiasco, TLP disaster, now this.
 
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Deltadart

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The more things change, the more they remain the same. Interesting how they will sell it to the Pakistani public.
 
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