Brutal infighting as Taliban factions split over new leader

Rick Moran
Ed Morrissey has some great analysis of this McClatchy story by Saeed Shah about how the Taliban in Pakistan is falling apart after the death of their leader Baitullah Mehsud on August 5 following a US missile strike.

Shah writes:

A wave of defections, surrenders, arrests and bloody infighting has severely weakened the movement since its founder, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed Aug. 5 in a U.S. missile strike. The announcement this weekend that Hakimullah Mehsud, a 28-year-old with a reputation as a hothead, would succeed him is likely to further widen the split.

Hakimullah has support from Taliban groups in Orakzai, where he is based, and Bajaur, both parts of the wild Pakistan tribal zone that borders Afghanistan. But the heart of the Pakistani Taliban movement lies in the Waziristan portion of the tribal area, where the warlike Mehsud and Wazir clans live and where a commander named Waliur Rehman is backed as the next chief. Rehman was very close to Baitullah Mehsud.

Ed points out that the break up of the Taliban into factions is nothing new in warfare:

Shah notes that the infighting could ratchet up the danger for Pakistan, as both factions try to prove their mala fides by launching a rash of attacks, especially the hot-headed younger Mehsud.  However, there is also opportunity, as both sides fight with each other, and create more splintering and factions in the Taliban.  Shah doesn't mention that the various factions may try to gain advantage by supplying Islamabad with intel to get the Pakistani Army and the US to do their dirty work in this regard.  That is an old, old story in insurgencies and factionalization that goes back centuries if not millenia in all parts of the world.  While the danger for Pakistanis could certainly rise significantly, the opportunities for further destruction of the Taliban rise much higher.

I'm afraid this is hardly the end of the Taliban. The madrasses are turning out thousands of recruits every year and the government refuses to crack down on the fundamentalist schools because they are sometimes the only education available to Pakistani kids. And there is no indication that this split is anything but a temporary situation. Eventually, the Taliban will get its act together.

In the meantime, it would behoove the Pakistanis to inflict as much damage on the Taliban in the NWFP where they are based. The US can and is helping in this regard and logic would dictate that the harder we hit them now, the longer it will take them to get re-organized.

And that's about the best we can hope for at the present.









Ed Morrissey has some great analysis of this McClatchy story by Saeed Shah about how the Taliban in Pakistan is falling apart after the death of their leader Baitullah Mehsud on August 5 following a US missile strike.

Shah writes:

A wave of defections, surrenders, arrests and bloody infighting has severely weakened the movement since its founder, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed Aug. 5 in a U.S. missile strike. The announcement this weekend that Hakimullah Mehsud, a 28-year-old with a reputation as a hothead, would succeed him is likely to further widen the split.

Hakimullah has support from Taliban groups in Orakzai, where he is based, and Bajaur, both parts of the wild Pakistan tribal zone that borders Afghanistan. But the heart of the Pakistani Taliban movement lies in the Waziristan portion of the tribal area, where the warlike Mehsud and Wazir clans live and where a commander named Waliur Rehman is backed as the next chief. Rehman was very close to Baitullah Mehsud.

Ed points out that the break up of the Taliban into factions is nothing new in warfare:

Shah notes that the infighting could ratchet up the danger for Pakistan, as both factions try to prove their mala fides by launching a rash of attacks, especially the hot-headed younger Mehsud.  However, there is also opportunity, as both sides fight with each other, and create more splintering and factions in the Taliban.  Shah doesn't mention that the various factions may try to gain advantage by supplying Islamabad with intel to get the Pakistani Army and the US to do their dirty work in this regard.  That is an old, old story in insurgencies and factionalization that goes back centuries if not millenia in all parts of the world.  While the danger for Pakistanis could certainly rise significantly, the opportunities for further destruction of the Taliban rise much higher.

I'm afraid this is hardly the end of the Taliban. The madrasses are turning out thousands of recruits every year and the government refuses to crack down on the fundamentalist schools because they are sometimes the only education available to Pakistani kids. And there is no indication that this split is anything but a temporary situation. Eventually, the Taliban will get its act together.

In the meantime, it would behoove the Pakistanis to inflict as much damage on the Taliban in the NWFP where they are based. The US can and is helping in this regard and logic would dictate that the harder we hit them now, the longer it will take them to get re-organized.

And that's about the best we can hope for at the present.