Blacklisting the Haqqanis

Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to put the Haqqani network on the foreign terrorist list. She said the group clearly meets the list’s standards: “It conducts attacks against US targets and personnel in Afghanistan, and poses a continuing threat to American, Afghan, and allied personnel and interests.” For the first time in public (though an unnamed official already broke the news this week), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said that Pakistan’s intelligence service, or ISI, was indirectly behind last week’s attacks in Kabul. He called the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of the ISI, saying the Haqqanis planned and carried out the attacks in Kabul “with ISI support.” Mullen was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee along with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Actually, the pair left few stones unturned. Panetta argued that the Taliban’s recent spate of “headline-grabbing attacks” shows the organization is weakening: “Overall, we judge this change in tactics to be a result of a shift in momentum in our favor and a sign of weakness in the insurgency.” He said that security across Afghanistan is improving, with violence “trending down.” The high-profile attacks, he went on, have to be stopped or allied forces risk the spread of “perceptions of decreasing security.”

Turning their attention to Iran, Panetta and Mullen said they would not let Tehran continue to stir up violence in Iraq. Mullen said the Iranians had been warned “that if they keep killing our troops, that will not be something we will sit idly by and watch.” Panetta added that Washington would not ignore what Iran is doing in Iraq, which includes arming Shiite militias that are attacking U.S. troops.

In other news, it seems Washington has overlooked one key part of the Israeli-Palestinian puzzle—busy trying to head off a Palestinian bid, the administration hasn’t given proper attention to what happens after Abbas makes his move. Secretary Clinton disagreed. She said yesterday that Washington is trying to keep its eye on the future when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s important that “we remain focused on the day after,” she said, regardless of what plays out at the UN today. In that spirit, Clinton and Panetta will sit down with allies in the Persian Gulf to talk about the situation. But some U.S. officials say that with so much hope riding on the ability of diplomats to dissuade Abbas, it’s been difficult to develop any contingency plans.

And last night the G20 agreed to “take all necessary actions to preserve the stability of banking systems and financial markets as required.”