The Khyber pass battles continue, and along with that the agit prop is continuing from all sides. There are a few things that are clear however. The first is that there aren’t many foreigner fighters, or Arab Al Qaeda, left alive in Pakistan – their numbers are thinning as is pointed out by this Asia Times article. The second is that they are beginning to run out of benefactors and supplies.
The AQ spokesmen wants to paint the tribal resistance in the Khyber pass as “US paid for” resistance, however I already pointed out in past articles that the resistance would come regardless. This is the traditional battleground between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and many wars have passed through. The tribes there have held fast against all comers and endure past all belief. There’s a long tradition in the pass, and they aren’t going to put up with much interference in their lands from AQ/Taliban and Kashmiri Jihadi forces or the army. The smack down is coming, and the US doesn’t need to pay a nickel.
Both sides are pimping Nawaz Sharif of PML-N as the great savior for peace, but really it was under Nawaz Sharif that the Jihadi groups who slipped the leash were expanded and set loose against India. It was also under Nawaz that Pakistan had their first nuclear test, and under Nawaz that the AQ Khan network worked with Iran. (Ali’s article is good, but realize that it does have a political angle. It’s also good that he’s pointing out that these groups all change their names frequently, wearing the one that fits the occasion, political or armed.)
Now follows some analysis, this is purely my speculation and you will receive the usual warning : this is unsupported by fact, it’s pure speculation.
The Taliban no longer receives funding and supplies from Pakistan, so they are desperately seeking another benefactor. They don’t care if that’s Iran, or China, or Pakistan again if they can pressure it, and they will play any part needed to gain supplies and armaments. Add that with today’s strange news regarding the kidnapped Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, the recent move to give AQ Khan more freedom, and you get some pretty wild probabilities. From the tape:
But his reference to having been held for 27 days suggests that the video was made more than a month ago.
“We don’t have any problems, but I suffer from health issues such as hypertension and heart pain,” the white-bearded Azizuddin said.
He urged Pakistan’s ambassadors in Iran and China, as well as the country’s Foreign Ministry, to comply with Taliban demands. He did not elaborate.
Now what is up here? Are the Taliban looking for supplies and armaments by acting as some odd middle-man in a new nuclear ring? Are they pressuring Iran to supply them through blackmail? If so then how and why does China play into this? (Note the recent Sunni Jihad mosque bombing in Shiraz, Iran – the government in Iran has characterized it as accidental, and not terror even though SJ has claimed the terror event.)
The other potential is that both Iran and China are holding jihadi prisoners that AQ wants release of. We will have to let this play out to see what is going on. If you have any guesses as to what this means, please feel free to drop a comment.
From a more detailed story at The Nation, it appears that the demands on China and Iran are for prisoner releases. See story here.
Also note that the Khyber pass has re-opened, as I predicted the Taliban can not win there and had to make a face-saving truce before tucking tail and running.