Back in June I wrote about the situation in Pakistan and the Taliban fractionalization we had predicted at the American Thinker last year:
We predicted that some Taliban tribes would split from al Qaeda and jockey for position to align with the Pakistan government. Subsequently, inter-tribal warfare broke out and some tribal leaders did in fact side with the government. It is likely that the government-allied tribes had good intelligence into the locations of al Qaeda leadership. This was probably a main source of the intelligence for increased targeting capabilities. That intelligence led to more dead al Qaeda leaders (and allied Taliban leaders) in the last year than since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001-2002.
Today the UK Independent confirms that analysis. It reports:
The British and Americans have presented the assassinations as examples of how their policy of "decapitating" the enemy leadership is working. But according to security sources, there is also evidence that factions within the Taliban are using Western forces to eliminate rivals in a new version of the "Great Game" being played out in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The "hits" on the Taliban leadership have almost all been based on initial intelligence supplied from within the insurgency, although details of the movements of some senior insurgents have also been gleaned from intercepted telephone calls. Some of the information has come from the Afghan security service, NDS, and some from Pakistani officials, while the British have held secret talks with elements of the Taliban - despite official denials.
The tempo of targeted attacks on the Taliban leadership has dramatically increased in the past month. Eight days before the killing of Mullah Sheikh, another senior leader, Bishmullah Khan, was shot dead by commandos on the outskirts of Nowzad. Three weeks previously, Mullah Sadiqullah, a prolific bomb-maker, was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from an Apache helicopter gunship.
One senior Taliban figure connected to all three men was Mullah Rahim, described as the insurgent leader in Helmand. He is said to have been a mentor to Mullah Sheikh, picked Bismullah as his chief lieutenant and had delegated explosives to Mullah Sadiqullah. On Sunday, just hours after Mullah Sheikh had been killed, Mullah Rahim gave himself up to authorities in Pakistan. One senior Western official, who deals with both Nato and Afghan forces on security matters, said: "Not all of the intelligence we are getting is being given for altruistic reasons. The Taliban movement is pretty amorphous and we are aware that different groupings appear to be passing on information. There appears to be a power struggle going on in the insurgent leadership across the [Pakistan] border and we are also aware that certain official bodies have their own agendas and that is reflected in what they tell us." [Emphasis added]
Well yeah, I think it is pretty clear that this was the ultimate objective of the US plan, to get these terrorists fighting each other and using us to help kill each other off. Let's hope it escalates. This is one case in which we should be more than happy to help out our enemies.
By the way, still no "resurgent Taliban". The Taliban have had a bit more success in this year's "spring offensive" because NATO has pushed much closer to the border, into long-held Taliban territory and thinned out in doing so. The Taliban infiltrators have to travel shorter distances now to attack US forces so our targeting opportunities (hitting the Taliban before they get to their planned targets) does naturally decrease as we push closer to the border. Therefore we are seeing more successful attacks as opposed to 2006-2007 in which our forces were further from the boarder and the Apache gun ships just ate these groups up as they came out of the infiltration routes and tried to sneak into sector.
Yes, they are still a threat. Yes, we don't know what is going to happen with the new Pakistani government yet, I am still trying to get a sense of which way the wind is going to blow. But the Taliban is still getting weaker and not resurging across the spectrum of operations. However, I think it could be said that in small geographic areas, i.e. around Khost, they are massing -- which could be characterized as a surge. It is a bit of a shift in tactics. But, it will not have a long term impact as long as the NATO allies keep their nerve and don't thin out.
A few thousand more troops would be useful in Afghanistan, but Senator Obama's claim that he is going to somehow catch/kill al Qaeda leaders by sending more soldiers to Afghanistan is nonsense. It certainly wouldn't hurt though as we need more troops to hit the insurgents who are infiltrating.
The way we are going to get al Qaeda core leadership is to continue to get these Taliban tribes fighting each other. Sooner or later, one of them will rat out Usama bin Laden when it suits their needs.