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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 10:36 GMT
'War on terror' flashpoints identified
By Hugh Levinson
Editor, Radio 4's Analysis

Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area
The focus is on Pashtun areas straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan
A senior strategist for the US government says that the three key future flashpoints for militant jihadists will be Pakistan, Bangladesh and Europe.

Lt Col David Kilcullen, who has just started a job as an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also suggests that the coalition which invaded Iraq has abandoned the idea of creating a democracy there.

In an interview for Analysis on BBC Radio 4, Lt Col Kilcullen states "unequivocally" that future conflict will spike in Pakistan. He described the Taleban as a Pashtun movement that is trying to control the Pashtun areas straddling the border of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Not forgetting that there are nuclear weapons in that mix, there are non-state nuclear arms proliferation networks in that mix and there's also Al-Qaeda," he told the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner.

Iraq aspirations

In Bangladesh, he noted a "disturbing trend in growing radicalism and Islamisation and a fairly capable network of terrorists and insurgent groups."

US helicopter flies over Baghdad
The US's original aspirations for Iraq may never be achieved
He also pointed to Europe, which has "the potential for subversion, radicalisation, a fair degree of social unrest and, of course, Europe and North Africa have a symbiotic relationship in demographic terms."

David Kilcullen has an unusual background as a US strategist. He is an Australian Army reserve officer with a doctorate in anthropology. Until July, he was adviser on counter-insurgency to General David Petraeus, who heads the US military in Iraq. He also advises the British and Australian governments.

In his BBC interview, he was speaking in a personal capacity.

He conceded that the lofty aspirations of the original invasion of Iraq in 2003 would not be achieved.

"I think we did go into Iraq early with a belief that we would try to create basically a secular democratic state with modern democratic institutions. And I think that reality bites. And I think what we see is that Iraqi society is not like that."

Local power

Lt Col Kilcullen has been closely associated with the new US policy of building alliances with local power structures, particularly tribal chiefs.

Lt Col David Kilcullen
Any viable Iraqi state of the future is going to have a strong tribal component
Lt Col Kilcullen
"We certainly spent some time in 2003 swatting the tribes out of the way," he said. With the US "surge" in troops, which started last year, policy changed. "Instead we go in and we say 'who's in charge?' And we partner with the people that actually hold local authority."

The coalition would then help make the tribe "self-defending" so as to drive out extremists. "Tribes have a legitimate, longstanding role in Iraqi society," he said. "Any viable Iraqi state of the future is going to have a strong tribal component."

But the policy was questioned by Professor Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute. "One of the costs of counter insurgency is that you can push out the insurgents, you can leave behind as it were a cleansed society, but it may not be very democratic. It may not be very friendly," he said.

Analysis can be heard on BBC Radio 4 , Thu 1 Nov, 2030 GMT or as a podcast from the Analysis website.

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