Mar 23 2007

Waziristan Still In Upheaval

Published by at 9:35 pm under All General Discussions,Pakistan

The Taliban are desperately trying to broker a ceasefire as it appears the fighting between foreign fighters tied to al Qaeda and local tribesman may be spreading:

“Around 130 foreigners were killed and 62 captured, and the clashes are now spreading to other areas,” he told reporters at Governor’s House.

The governor denied the government was helping tribesmen eliminate foreigners from the area, as accused by a Taliban commander. “Do not become a party to the conflict, otherwise we will sign out from the peace agreement we reached with the government (in November 2004),” Haji Omar, senior Taliban commander in South Waziristan, told a BBC correspondent by satellite phone. He denied the government’s death toll for foreign militants. Orakzai said there could be around 500 foreign militants still hiding in the area. Asked if the ceasefire brokered on Thursday was holding, the governor did not give a direct reply. “The situation is volatile … it is sill not clear,” he said. A tribal journalist in Wana told Daily Times by satellite phone that the ceasefire was intact.

However, an ambush on a car carrying some Uzbek militants was reported from Speenkai Raghzai, but it could not be confirmed officially. Two Uzbeks were reported killed in the attack, indicating that the clashes were spreading from Waziristan.

“The people of Waziristan have risen against foreigners on their own,” said the governor. “They have realised that the foreigners’ presence is troubling the local population. They were asked by the tribal people to leave, but they started fighting.”

That is a large number of foreign fighters and the presence of Uzbeks and Chechens could indicate the kind of security forces that would be around al Qaeda’s top two leaders and the world’s most wanted men: Bin Laden and Zawahiri. If there are 500 there then that is a large force, and their lack of movement indicates a need to protect something or someone.

Update: An attempt at a ceasefire has failed and the fighting continues.

The failure of ceasefire talks between a jirga consisting of clerics and tribal leaders has lead to a resumption of clashes between foreign militants and local tribesmen in South Waziristan.

The suggestion of some tribesmen that the foreign militants should be disarmed and given asylum in the Mehsud area was rejected by most participants, a Daily Times report stated.

The problem is the foreign fighters are being asked to leave and for some reason they will not or cannot leave. Again, it looks like something (or someone) has them tied down to where they are, and where they are not wanted.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Waziristan Still In Upheaval”

  1. crosspatch says:

    Predictably, the Pakistani government used the fighting in Waziristan to make the claim the failed Waziristan Accord is actually working. The Pakistani media campaign was in high gear working to convince the West the fight was about pro-government tribes uprooting foreign Uzbeks. “Pakistan Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said the battle proved the government’s policy of trying to get local tribesmen to expel foreign militants was working. A military spokesperson for the government of Pakistan called the local tribesmen ‘heros’.”

    The Pakistani position on the fighting has bled through the reporting. Today’s Financial Times lays out the case for further ‘peace’ deals. “The claim [that fighting has destroyed the Uzbek’s training camps], if true, could mark not only a success in Pakistan’s war against militants hiding on its soil, but could also vindicate Pakistan’s position on two controversial agreements [the North and South Waziristan Accords] signed by the government with tribal elders in the region bordering Afghanistan.”

    Syed Saleem Shahzad explains the fighting stems from a major policy disagreement between the Uzbeks and their Taliban allies, and the Taliban led by Mullah Dadullah. The Uzbeks and their Taliban backers believe the primary target in jihad should be the Pakistani government. Dadullah believes the current situation in the tribal areas is advantageous to the Taliban, and they should fight NATO and the Karzai government in Afghanistan.

    The Taliban and al Qaeda have a vested interest in turning international attention away from the Pakistani tribal areas, hence the speed in which senior emissaries were sent in to diffuse the fighting. Mr. Shahzad predicted the Dadullah wing would win out. “The most likely outcome will be their surrender and agreement that from now on all fighting will be done in Afghanistan. Such unity of purpose would be a boon for the Taliban’s looming offensive against NATO.”

    The fighting has the dual advantage of exposing the Taliban and al Qaeda’s utter dominance of the region and culling a few terrorists from the region, but the short term gains are fleeting. The Taliban and their allies have tens of thousands of fighters available (with the upward estimate at 200,000). One hundred plus Uzbeks and Taliban killed for the sake of the al Qaeda position being solidified in South Waziristan is a relatively small price to pay. The real identity of Mullah Nazir’s Taliban is being lost on all the media save the Pakistani press.


  2. crosspatch says:

    ooops, forgot to close the quote tag.

  3. crosspatch says:

    More on this subject today at The Weekly Standard

  4. Dc says:

    Interesting development. This tribal area has been the sticking issue for many govs (Pakistan’s included) for a long time. They, Pakistan gov, doesn’t really control it or have say over it and yet they are responsible for it and what happens there…as it impacts other nations, and govs.

    Looks like Alqueda, etc..have violated the terms of the Tribal’s truce terms for their safe harbor (ouch). That’s gonna leave a mark.