The schism that has stewed for a couple of months within Baitullah Mehsud’s loose alliance of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan broke out into open large scale fighting in the Mohmand agency Friday. Initial reports had ten dead up until the point when the Afghan Taliban leadership brokered a peace through a Jirga. Fighting broke out again immediately after the Afghanistan Taliban left, demonstrating that they have little authority anymore.
Baitullah’s Wazir Taliban ended by capturing the opposition forces with 50 dead and dozens injured on both sides. As Mehsud works to extend his warlord power you can expect to see more of this as he moves into regions with other tribes who will oppose him. From The News:
By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: Despite a ceasefire brokered by two senior Afghan Taliban commanders on Thursday, fighting between two rival militant groups took an ugly turn on Friday in which more than 50 militants were killed and dozens injured in the troubled Mohmand Agency.
Also, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Mohmand Agency commander Abdul Wali alias Omar Khalid claimed to have captured the chief commander of his rival group, Shah Khalid, along with his 120 fighters from Khwezo area of the Mohmand Agency.
Two rival militant groups – Baitullah Mehsud-led TTP and Commander Shah Khalid-led militants which is considered as pro-government — have been fighting for the past three days for the control of the Mohmand Agency.
More at Daily Times and International Herald Tribune.
The urge here might be to cheer on one group or another, but the reality is that both are anti-Government, both are anti-US. This is “red on red” and the government forces stood by and watched, supporting neither side. Meanwhile Baitullah has issued ultimatum to the province government in NWFP, with a five day timeline for them to resign. They’ve rejected it, so expect targetted assassinations and suicide bombings in NWFP.
In other Pakistan News TTP Swat is holding large ongoing meetings chaired by Fazlullah. Another report furthers Al Qaeda agitprop, reporting lots of foreign fighters in Afghanistan. AQAM recruiting outside Pakistan is now thin to none after the defeat in Iraq, and the reality is that these are mostly jihadis who fled Iraq. Come the winter they won’t be in Afghanistan, as AQ support there has withered and any large camp is sure to meet with demolition. Instead they will be penned in Pakistan. It’s unknown what that will result in, but I’d certainly be worried if I were in Government in Pakistan or if I were a tribal leader there.
In Wana three more “US Spies” were killed, in reality these were likely people who didn’t go along with one of Baitullah’s commanders agendas. These killings will continue until all dissent or free thought is dead, or until people get disgusted and overthrow the Taliban.
The government forces are pressing on offensive in Hangu near Kohat, but this is the indecisive hillside by hillside battling that they usually do, which allows the larger body of Taliban forces to always flee.
The Taliban is pretending that they are out to interdict supplies to the ISAF forces, but as this article reveals it’s more about putting the squeeze on merchants in the ancient game of baksheesh to travel the caravan routes.
What this forbodes is a long hard winter for people in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the Taliban blockading food and fuel on the main routes. The Afghani’s will probably do ok as the ISAF, USAID, and Government forces will keep food flowing, but I pity the people in the frontiers on the Pakistan side of the Durand line.