The Civil war in Pakistan has heated up again with assaults on proto-Taliban agents of Mangal Bagh in the Khyber pass (Taliban groups in Pakistan change names as the occasion or the goal allows, and they sub-contract with each other. In this case they are furthering tribal goals of Mangal Bagh and theirs as well. The Taliban goal here is retribution against the tribal forces that denied their takeover of the Khyber pass, Mangal’s is to extend his power.) Namdar, who leads the forces opposed to Mangal Bagh, is no friend to the US either but his desire to maintain control of the region counteracts that of the TTP/Mehsuds. Bill Roggio has a slideshow of the extremist leaders here.
This is the outcome I predicted in posts last year – when the new Government got rid of the old laws they failed to fill the vacumn, creating a power grab by every petty warlord in the frontiers. They removed the old power bases and authorities and didn’t replace it with anything.
As always the main Taliban forces fled before the Government forces arrived. This is the usual dumb-show cat and mouse we’ve seen for several years in the frontiers. In most cases the Frontier Corps will flee their checkpoint, base, or observation post before a Taliban attack, and the Taliban will flee their “hideouts” before the government attacks. It’s as if both sides know what the other is going to do in advance, and there appears to be a lot of winking and nudging going on in lower ranks.
The Taliban affiliated group, Lashkar-e-Islami, leading the failed efforts in the Khyber Pass sought retribution today with a suicide bomber attack on one of their Tribal opponent’s offices. The blast killed several, but Namdar was not present.
The Taliban affiliated group, Lashkar-e-Islami, leading the failed efforts in the Khyber Pass sought retribution today with a suicide bomber attack on one of their Tribal opponent’s offices. The blast killed several, but Namdar was not present so like the Karzai attempt it was a strike-out.
Namdar led the tribal turning that destroyed the recent Taliban efforts to block the Khyber and interdict supplies to the US forces North in Afghanistan. More from NDTV:
Several people were feared killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the office of an Islamic group in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Agency, officials said.
The suicide bomber targeted the office of the ”Amar bil maroof wa nahee aanelmunkar” (promotion of virtue and prevention of vice force), the religious police of a group led by Haji Namdar at Bara, the main town of the northwestern Khyber Agency.
A spokesman for Haji Namdar said the head of the suicide bomber has been found.
Official sources said Haji Namdar was the actual target of the attack though he escaped unhurt. He is a rival of Mangal Bagh Afridi, another radical leader who heads the Lashkar-e-Islam group.
The sources said they feared the death toll could rise as several of the injured were in a critical condition. The seriously injured were rushed to hospitals in Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province.
When the Taliban first announced their plans in the Khyber I predicted doom for them since there are too many vested tribal interests in the area, and they are not going to allow outside interference in their region. The Wazirs lost miserably, tucked their tails and ran into a trap where they were killed. They will undoubtably continue to seek retribution, but if that goes on much longer they might stir up something they don’t like. The Khyber agency tribes are cunning and they are better trained and more capable than the Taliban — they aren’t going to put up with this.
In other news Syed at Asia times details the failed attack on Karzai, making it out to be more than it was, the important nugget here is the cooperation between Hekmatyar and Haqqani. That indicates to me that the Afghanistan Taliban are more stressed than portrayed, and it also indicates the source of their arms. Hekmatyar has long ties to elements in Iran, and he is their agent of instability in Afghanistan.
While Syed portrays the actions as smart, the reality is that failed efforts kill innocents, and steel more of the Pashtun against the Taliban. The fact that they are now working tight with Hekmatyar again isn’t going to win them friends either.
In a more recent article Asia times details the alignment of Taliban forces and leaders, but the reality is that they are down to fourth and fifth string leaders. Callow, inexperienced rookies for the most part, who will crumble now that the surge is on and the marines have landed.
The Spring offensive this year will be against the Taliban, not by the Taliban. They will try to slip small groups north, attack aid workers and other soft targets, I expect night visits to villages and school burnings as usual, but they can’t mount an effective campaign. They will try to grab headlines in other words rather than try to win.