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Taliban, al-Qaeda Surge In Pakistan

Both al-Qaeda and the Taliban are resurgent in Pakistan, as described in a January analysis. Musharraf said recently that the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) will be incorporated into the NWFP (North West Frontier Province) "after Taliban and al-Qaeda elements are eliminated from the region." Musharraf has yet to eliminate either from any regions in Pakistan and the Taliban and al-Qaeda are currently considered strong in both FATA and NWFP.

Levant Tensions Continue

Secretary Rice met with Abbas and Olmert in Jerusalem with little progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile, yet another Israeli official has warned that Hizballah has more firepower now than before the summer war. Nasrallah said that Hizballah "had the right to secretly transfer arms" in a speech that again attempted to co-opt the Lebanese Army as a similar 'resistance.' While the Iran-Saudi talks on Lebanon have been described as Syria’s worst nightmare, Syria and Iran pledged to confront US and Israeli 'plots' in Lebanon and Iraq.

Pakistan Denounces Train Bombing in India

Pakistan has condemned Sunday's India-Pakistan train attack that killed 66, mostly Pakistanis. Believed to be the work of Pakistani Islamist terrorists seeking to unravel the Indian-Pakistani peace talks, investigators have found four kerosene bottles used to facilitate the fire that ensued after the bomb blasts. While some militant leaders are ready for a truce in the Kashmir conflict, others clearly are not and look to ratchet violence rather than abide by any negotiated settlement. Whether or not the attack will have an effect on the process remains to be seen, but initial indications are that Indian and Pakistani leaders will not allow it.

Syria's Assad Meets In Iran

Iran has been launching missiles as part of new military exercises intended to be a show of force in the face of recent US pressure. Syria’s President Bashar Assad traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian leaders. Even in the face of revelations of Iran's Qods Force supporting both sides of sectarian violence in Iraq, Assad said in a meeting with Iran’s Rafsanjani, "Creating conflict between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq and Lebanon is the final card that America and its allies have." In an apparent dispute over payment, Russia may halt construction work on the unfinished Bushehr nuclear plant and reconsider plans to supply nuclear fuel for it. Iran denies Russia's non-payment claims. Iran has executed who it claims was the bomber who killed 11 IRGC members in a bus bombing in southern Iran the previous day.

Operational Successes in Iraq

As part of the Baghdad security plan, Operation Polar Iron saw 49 suspects arrested and three roadside bombs captured and destroyed. Near Tikrit, seven were detained - including a foreign terrorist - and a VBIED-rigged vehicle was destroyed. Though Iran denies Sadr is in Tehran, Iraq's president said Sadr had ordered his top commanders out of Iraq.

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