Mar 03 2009
The news last week, which had me a bit disturbed initially, was that Taliban forces in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan had set aside their differences and joined forces:
Three rival Pakistani Taliban groups have agreed to form a united front against international forces inÂ AfghanistanÂ in a move likely to intensify the insurgency just as thousands of extra US soldiers begin pouring into the country as part of Barack Obama’s surge plan.
The Guardian has learned that three of the most powerful warlords in the region have settled their differences and come together under a grouping calling itself Shura Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen, or Council of United Holy Warriors.
Nato officers fear that the new extremist partnership in Waziristan,Â Pakistan’s tribal area, will significantly increase the cross-border influx of fighters and suicide bombers – a move that could undermine the US president’s Afghanistan strategy before it is formulated.
At first glance this would appear to be consolidation of forces that could take advantage of the economic distractions in the US and the anti-western backlash brewing in Pakistan. The concern I had was this was a sign that we would be losing ground in the battle against Islamo Fascist extremists in the area.
But then more information came out and I am wondering now if this is a sign of the pressure our enemies are under, the pact being a last gasp for survival. Two things can bring about this kind of alliance: (a) our enemies smell victory and want to share in it, or (b) our enemies are being surrounded and they decided they better band together or face defeat. I am now leaning a bit towards the latter option.
Pakistani forces have defeated Islamist militants in a strategically important region on the Afghan border and expect to clear militants out of other areas by the end of the year, a commander said on Saturday.
Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun regions, known as agencies, are sanctuaries for al Qaeda and the Taliban and a victory against them would provide relief for U.S. and NATO forces hard-pressed by insurgents in Afghanistan.
“They have lost. They have lost their cohesion here,” Khan told reporters on a trip arranged by the military to Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. “The resistance has collapsed.”
He said his forces had also largely restored “a reasonable state of stability,” in the four other agencies under his command.
Pakistan claimed a key strategic victory in the US-led “war on terror” on Saturday, saying it had cleared a troubled tribal district of Taliban militants. The six-month battle with Islamist insurgents in the remote Bajaur district is seen as pivotal to the country’s fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Heavy artillery and helicopter gunships have pounded Bajaur, one of Pakistan’s seven federally-administered tribal areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, in a bid to flush out militant bases, killing hundreds. “We think that we have secured this agency,” said major general Tariq Khan, the commander of forces fighting in Bajaur, using a local word to refer to the district. “They have lost.”
Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies sit nearby the Khyber Pass, which provides military logistics to US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. These two Agencies were lost to the extremists years ago, and were considered hideouts for al Qaeda and Taliban forces fleeing the US invasion of Afghanistan. If these reports are even partially true, then this is a major shift in the battle field. What this means is the safe haven region for extremists in Pakistan has been significantly shrunken, basically creating a much smaller barrel for us to shoot Islamo Fascist fish in.
So far the shooting at Islamo Fascist targets has to date been by unmanned predator drones (another strike happened this past weekend). If Obama is serious about winning the war that erupted into the open on 9-11 (though it had been waged for years prior without the US acknowledging it as such) then he will assist Pakistan in not only containing these forces, but eradicating them.
I have said many times President Bush left Obama the potential for a real victory against the Taliban and al Qeada. The question has always been do the new leaders on the national stage have the will and backbone to take advantage of this opportunity.