Although this week’s report on Pakistan touches down on the possibility of U.S. drone strikes alienating crucial tribal populations along the Durand line, the assassination of Pak Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud is without a doubt a boon for the Pakistani government’s fight against Islamic militancy.
A lack of credible candidates to lead the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the wake of Mehsud’s death suggests that the militant group, which boasts an estimated 20,000 fighters operating in the tribal areas, will be prone to fragmenting in the short-term.
The Pakistani government now stands at a crossroads. How it chooses to proceed will inevitably have a dramatic effect on the process of ‘Talibanisation’ in Pakistan.
The short-term approach, which is reportedly being considered by Islamabad, would consist of a return to brokering peace deals with militant groups, a strategy that the Pakistani government has pursued at various points in the last decade. The TTP would almost certainly be receptive to such overtures, as it would give them a chance to re-group under a new leader.
Moreover, before Mehsud’s death, the Pakistani government was rumored to be on the brink of launching a military campaign into South Waziristan. A peace deal would preclude the need for such a military campaign, sparing the government the possibility of another disastrous deployment in the FATA.
On the other hand, Islamabad may choose to press the momentary advantage provided by a disorganized TTP. If the military campaign into South Waziristan goes forward, it would be fought against a Taliban resistance that is still reeling from Mehsud’s death. Furthermore, if the campaign is conducted in a responsible manner – avoiding innocent casualties and building trust with local populations – it has the potential to create fault lines within the TTP between moderates and extremists.
Mehsud’s death amounts to a reprieve for Islamabad, nevertheless, all of the conditions driving the ‘Talibanisation’ of Pakistan still remain. It is merely a matter of time until the TTP, or some other Taliban-affiliated group, re-organizes itself under a new leader. The question is: will Islamabad choose convenience in a short-term peace, or long-term stability via a drawn out fight?
SUMMARY OF EVENTS: August 3 – 10, 2009
A case against seven North Carolina terrorism suspects accused of plotting “violent jihad” may involve classified material that will raise national security issues if given to their defense attorneys, federal prosecutors said Monday.
A pair of nuclear-powered Russian attack submarines have been patrolling off the eastern seaboard of the United States in recent days, a rare mission that has raised concerns inside the Pentagon and intelligence agencies about a more assertive stance by the Russian military.
In a startling accusation, defense lawyers in the case of an adolescent arrested and brought to Guantanamo Bay six years ago claim the Justice Department may bring a criminal case against the young man based on testimony from witnesses paid by the U.S. government for their cooperation.
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-U.S. Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on Monday in federal court in Virginia.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., one of the banking industry’s top performers, said Wednesday that government agencies have asked about its compensation practices and use of credit derivatives.
The White House request that members of the public report anyone who is spreading “disinformation” about the proposed national health care makeover could lead to a White House database of political opponents that will be both secret and permanent, according to Republican lawyers on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are examining the plan’s possible implementation.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday pledged to expand American support for Somalia’s weak interim government and threatened sanctions against neighboring Eritrea for aiding an extremist group she says is trying to launch worldwide terrorist attacks from Somalia.
A U.S. federal judge on Friday gave Swiss bank UBS more time to try to reach an out-of-court settlement in a diplomatically sensitive tax secrecy case.
Since the revelation earlier this week of allegations by two former employees of security firm Blackwater that its owner was complicit in murder in order to cover up the deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians, explosive charges have continued to emerge.
President Barack Obama on Friday denied the United States is planning to set up military bases in Colombia as part of an upgraded security agreement with the South American nation.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe “directs a war policy” by allowing the installation of seven U.S. military bases in Colombian territory.
The British government is hiding behind a “wall of secrecy” over claims its agents were complicit in the torture of “terrorism” suspects, a parliamentary committee has said.
A detective at the center of the Deutsche Bank AG spying affair says the international banking giant’s effort to monitor its critics was more extensive than previously disclosed in that it involved a plan to target as many as 20 people, including a number of investors.
Georgia’s foreign ministry has accused Russia of attempting to move the South Ossetian border deeper into Georgian territory, increasing tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow.
Georgia on Wednesday dismissed as a “myth” Russian accusations that it was aggressively rearming and said it was in contact with ally Washington to defuse tensions over rebel South Ossetia.
A year after the war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, tensions in the region are high once more.
A year after fighting a war with Georgia, Russia strengthened the combat readiness of its troops in the rebel region of South Ossetia on Tuesday and warned the United States against rearming Georgia.
Russia’s criminal investigation into the alleged genocide and mass murder of civilians during the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war has been extended until February 2010, an official spokesperson said on Friday.
Iran’s opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi accused the authorities on Sunday of using “medieval torture” to extract confessions from protesters on trial over the wave of post-election unrest.
Three years after Israel fought a bloody war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, there are fears that hostilities could erupt again — this time with the militant group better armed than ever.
NATO and U.S. forces said they had carried out an air strike in southern Afghanistan, but denied allegations by villagers on Wednesday that the four dead were civilians killed in their sleep.
Indonesian police have shot dead a man suspected to be fugitive Islamic militant Noordin Mohammad Top during raids in Central Java and were trying to identify his body, a police source said on Saturday.
There is a strong likelihood that Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed along with his wife and bodyguards in a missile attack Tuesday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters.
Democratic Republic of Congo
With reports of widespread rape and other atrocities pouring in from the eastern Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations mission there has sent some 40 teams to the region over the past six months to bolster the protection of civilians.
Australian police Tuesday have arrested four men in Melbourne suspected of planning a “suicide terrorist attack”, in one of the biggest counter-terrorism operations in the country.