Tribal Council of War, Jihad Declared Against Al Qaida

In Wana the Tribal conflict has escalated once again with the local tribes declaring Jihad against the “foreign extremists” in Waziristan.

From the Frontier Post:

WANA/PESHAWAR: Nine major tribes of the South Waziristan Agency including local Taliban groups have warned foreigner militants to quit the agency in next twenty-four hours failing which Qaumi Lashkar will launch an operation, which will continue till there eviction from the tribal territory. The ultimatum from the tribal leaders came at a time when Uzbek Al-Qaeda militants and tribal tribesmen have been engaged in pitched battles that left at least twelve persons including eight Uzbeks and Chechens killed in clashes on Monday. Residents and other sources confided to The Frontier Post that a huge public representative jirga of nine tribes of the agency was held in Wana Adda on Monday. The gathering was attended by hundreds of tribal elders. They discussed the fighting and situation created by foreign militants for the last two weeks. Speakers of jirga strongly criticized the growing militancy of the Uzbeks and Chechen nationals and agreed to take a bold step against these people. They also decided that every tribesman who cooperate with the foreign militants will be regarded as traitor and will be awarded death sentence.

The tribal war council has also stated that anyone helping the AQ foreign elements will have their house burnt down and be exiled.

UPDATE II: It is also noteworthy that in the background of the AQ/Taliban/Tribals war in Wana we have a mass exodus of Afghan refugees crossing back into Afghistan. The impact this might have on the Taliban Spring offensive, as well as the humanitarian relief crisis it might create is something the ISAF and Afghan armies should prep for.

UPDATE: Photos of Jirga and more detail from Pakistan Times:

WANA (South Waziristan): Political Administration of South Waziristan Agency Saturday warned all the three sub-tribes of Mehsud tribe to keep a close vigil on the activities of suspected tribesmen in their respective areas.

Strict Actions

The Political administration will take strict action against the tribe if any suspect found in their area. This was stated by Assistant Political Agent Ladha Naeem Anwar Saddozai while addressing a jirga of Mehsud and Barki tribes at Wana.

The APA said, since Kani garam tribe has its own force, therefore, it must concentrate on hilly areas for hunting the wanted tribesmen instead of urban localities. He said, anti social elements in tribal areas usually target the government installations during night.

Dire Consequences

Saddozai warned them of dire consequences if any rocket launcher was fired on government property in future. Therefore, it is in the interest of the tribesmen to maintain strict vigilance in their respective areas.

While this might be good for Wana and South Waziristan, The Fourth Rail reports on North Waziristan.

Other Heartening news from Afghanistan as well.

Some are characterizing this as a civil war; I don’t agree with that however. The Uzbeks and Chechens are foreign, clearly part of Al Qaeda, and they are hated and feared throughout the tribal regions.

This is because the Uzbeks and Chechens are the Al Qaeda enforcers — they are the ones who come in the night and kill families, they are the ones who have killed the most tribal elders, they are the ones who hack off heads, they are the ones who dismember corpses, and they are the ones who kill “spies.”

Now they are the ones who must go or die, it’s pretty simple. Yes, there are local Taliban fighting with the tribes – which is natural since they are the ones experienced in warfare. Yes, Maulvi is an evil man, but the Uzbeks and Chechens are surely worse.

The army and government seem ambivalent, but they have already participated (see the earlier eye-witness reports from Dawn,) and it’s election time, Musharaaf is not going to upset apple-carts at this time. Hence, no firm response to Jamia Hafsa either. 

Parts of the Frontier Guards at the border are however either trying to stay neutral, or aligning with AQ. (keep in mind that the Uzbek/Chechen forces number around 1k, and the typical guard post has but a small detachment, in some cases fewer than 20 guards, so I would expect some hedging there.) The military will come in only when asked, and right now they are not asking (except for some minor assistance with artillery so far.)

The terrain is terraced, and there are paths usually at three or four levels along the mountains in Pakistan and Afghanistan, typically the people move higher in the summer, and use the lower paths and houses in the winter.

During times of trouble they move to the higher-up stone houses, and these are usually fortified. The Uzbeks are holed up in the high houses, and it will take some work to dislodge them.

Dawn also points out that the Uzbeks are gaining support from an unknown source in the form of armaments, (Kalashikovs, called “Kalakovs” by the Wazirs) These are probably arms originally intended for the Spring offensive in Helmand hurriedly pulled from hidden caches and back-shipped.

If some of this is beginning to sound familiar, think of the American Southwest in the mid-1800’s and pretend the Apaches and have automatic rifles and RPG’s, and remember sometimes they are on the reservation, sometimes they are off.

From Dawn:

Religious leaders here on Monday declared ‘jihad’ against Uzbek militants as local tribesmen and militant commanders continued to face stiff resistance from them.

The call came at a jirga of the Zallikhel and Tojikhel clans of the predominant Ahmadzai Wazir tribe at a playground in the administrative headquarters of South Waziristan. Hundreds of tribal elders and leaders representing the sub-clans of the tribe attended the jirga.

The Zallikhels had nominated a fellow tribesman, Nasib Khan, to raise a tribal force of volunteers in support of militant commander Maulvi Nazir to flush out Uzbek militants and their local collaborators from the region.On Sunday, local militants had made public announcements urging people to wage a ‘jihad’ against Uzbeks.

The jirga urged locals to shoot any Uzbek militants they came across. Rough estimates put the number of Uzbek militants in South Waziristan at a little over 1,000.

Official sources said two men were killed and two others wounded when militant groups supporting and opposing the Uzbeks clashed on Monday near a checkpoint.

An official acknowledged that the Uzbeks appeared to have received material support that had given them a shot in the arm in the face of prevailing public hostility against them.

“They have received some support, material support, I don’t know from where,” the official said.“They did not have Kalakovs until recently. They have Kalakovs now,” he said, adding that the locals were finding it hard to dislodge them from a strategic hilltop bunker in Shin Warsak near Wana.

If we want to do better in Afghanistan then we need to stop thinking just in terms of network centric warfare, and instead study the successful campaigns and tactics of the 100-year insurgency we fought against the American Indians in this country. Adapt that to modern methods, we might start doing better.

The good part of this is that Al Qaeda has the country side rising against them, the bad part is that some of that countryside is Taliban. As I’ve stated before, AQ probably learned more about Asymetrical Warfare from the Taliban than they taught, the Pashtun have 20 centuries of experience at it after all.

4 Replies to “Tribal Council of War, Jihad Declared Against Al Qaida”

  1. “and instead study the successful campaigns and tactics of the 100-year insurgency we fought against the American Indians in this country. Adapt that to modern methods, we might start doing better.”

    Are you serious? Let me go though those methods that we used them and then we might consider how we might adapt them to modern methods.

    First we exposed them to lethal diseases that they had no resistance to. Many of these were disfiguring and quite horrible to experience. This process greatly reduce their population.

    We then wiped out their food supply by systemically slaughtering the plains bison leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing from which to make shelter. This further weakened those that survived the first process.

    Then we gathered up those that remained and forcefully relocated them, often hundred or thousands of miles away from their native location. The places chosen for their relocation were often of an environment alien to them and the survival skills they had evolved over time were useless to them. It rendered them incapable of living off the land without the support of the government.

    Finally, if all of those steps failed and they continued to resist, we simply slaughtered them wholesale.

    I would be curious to know how you would propose we adapt those tactics to modern methods and not land ourselves on trial for crimes against humanity.

  2. I was speaking in terms of battles, campaigns, against the warrior tribes, not the PC view of how the Indians were defeated. Forget the politics and modern cultural perceptions for a moment. Think instead of the direct conflicts — on both sides battles were waged, real people died. Some were successful & some were not; both sides suffered defeats, both sides had victories, there are things to learn there.

  3. It isn’t the “PC view”, it is how it was done. In the cases where our side was defeated, it was only because we went in grossly outnumbered and made mistakes from being too cocky because we generally tended to slaughter them wholesale. I don’t those battles are a good analogy.

    A better analogy would be our battles against the British in the Revolution. In those battles, the Brits followed the conventional “rules of war” with their men all lined up. They tended to fight and move only in the day, etc. We hid among the rocks and trees, our fighters were often irregulars in civilian clothes, and we moved in the dark of night to surprise them on holidays.

    In battles against the native population, we lost a few battles but never really lost a campaign. Once we set our mind to taking a territory, we simply took it. The problem now is that we have political restrictions preventing us from going “all out”.

    There is no good reason to allow the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan where they can reform, re-equip, and rest only to return again and again and again. We have set ourselves up for a war of attrittion because so far we don’t have the political means to go in after them. Maybe soon Pakistan will ask for help and that will give us the excuse we need.

    We are defeating them in every battle. The problem is that they get to run to safe sactuary where we can not chase them. The wars on this continent offered no such sanctuary. We would chase them into Mexico and Canada when we needed to.

  4. By PC I was referring to your view of how they were defeated. Major battles preceded the buffalo hunters, and our troops as well as the Afghans and Paks are being exposed to germs they have no immunity to (not many folks travel to Wana for instance.)

    I still say there are lessons there. I would also refer you to the Pershing campaign vs the Moros.

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