WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has placed about 2,000 Marines with special operations training aboard Navy ships in the Gulf, poised for use in Afghanistan, where the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives is intensifying, defense officials said on Thursday.
Some more background on this issue:
Afghan offensive: Grand plans hit rugged reality
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - The plan to eradicate the Afghan resistance was straightforward: US-led coalition forces would drive from inside Afghanistan into the last real sanctuary of the insurgents, and meet the Pakistani military driving from the opposite direction. There would then be no safe place left to hide for the Taliban and al-Qaeda remnants, or, presumably, for Osama bin Laden himself. The plan's implementation began with the launch of operation "Mountain Storm" around March 15.
How the US set Pakistan aflame
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
There are three interested parties keeping keen eyes on the deteriorating situation:
?The anti-Musharraf segment within the army, which will now likely exploit the situation as they feel Pakistani soldiers have been misused in a war which is not theirs .
?The US-led coalition, which was keen to conduct operations in Pakistani territory. Now that the tribespeople have also been branded by Pakistani authorities as "terrorists", the US military has a golden opportunity to enter Pakistan to crush the "terror networks".
?The jihadis in Pakistan who are keen to participate in the Afghan resistance. Previously, it was difficult for Pakistanis to take part because controls in the border areas made entry into Afghanistan a challenge. Now, with clashes on the Pakistan side of the border, the fighters will find their way to the battlefields.
The most immediate threat to Pakistan's stability is within the Pakistani army, where a strong contingency rejects Musharraf and his accommodation of the US. This may push political parties like Jamaat-i-Islami to stage strong demonstrations of power in an effort to force Musharraf to step down.
--Oh yes, and Al-Quaeda is calling for the overthrow of Musharraf today.
'Al-Qaeda tape' vilifies Pakistan:
An audio recording purportedly made by senior al-Qaeda figure Ayman al-Zawahri has been broadcast by the pan-Arab television station, al-Jazeera.
See also, the Secret War: