The fall of Waziristan
The fall of North and South Waziristan and the rise of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan was an event telegraphed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. During the winter of 2006, Osama bin Laden announced his strategy to establish bases and pockets of territory along the Afghan-Pakistani border. The Taliban and al-Qaeda (virtually indistinguishable in this region at this point in time) had been fighting a long term insurgency against the Pakistani Army after President Musharraf put troops in the region shortly after 9-11. ...
Pro-Pakistani government tribal leaders and informants were murdered and made an example of. The Pakistani Army paid a devastating price for their operations in Waziristan. The official government reports claim around 200 soldiers killed, however the unofficial numbers put the casualties somewhere around 3,000 killed in combat.
On June 25, I sounded the alarm that a truce would be in the offering in North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army was taking a pounding, and President Musharraf lacked the will to fight in the region became apparent. All along, Musharraf and the Pakistani elite attempted to draw distinctions between the Taliban and “miscreants” and “foreigners” - which is merely code for al-Qaeda. The failure to realize the Taliban and al-Qaeda worked towards the same end, and have integrated political and command structures, led the Pakistani government to cut deals with the 'local Taliban' and the eventual establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are by no means finished with their goals of carving out safe havens along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
The series of posts below document the history of the fall of North and South Waziristan and the rise of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, from 2006 onward.
Roggio's dispatches bring into focus the problem which everyone who hankers for the "good old days" of multilateralist containment must face. What happens when diplomacy, aid and the United Nations aren't enough? Part of the problem lies in that while we can put anything in a conceptual "box" -- to the satisfaction of the diplomats at least -- and declare it contained, modern Western countries don't really have the tools to reach into the box and straighten things out. Christopher Hitchens described in both dry and scathing terms the public horror at finding its boxed monsters were wriggling out between the bars after September 11.
TONY JONES: It seems that the United States, and much of the Western world, is still learning the lessons of 9/11. After reflecting on this for five years now, what did we get right and what did we get wrong?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Mmm. Well I think we found out that we were at war, which was better than being at war and not knowing it, which was the case until five years and about five minutes ago. Until five years and five minutes ago, for example, we didn't know the name AQ Khan. We didn't know that Pakistan was being Talibanised from within, that there were al-Qaeda sympathisers in its nuclear program - and we weren't doing anything about that either. We didn't know, incidentally, that international black market of rogue states: North Korea, Libya and Iran, linked by AQ Khan and exchanging nuclear and other technologies, formed the corners of the box in which we thought had Saddam Hussein. When people talk about the box he was in, that box included AQ Khan and the North Koreans and the nuclear black market. So that goes also partly to the point that keeps coming up of whether or not we are safer. I always think that's a contemptible question. Not just because it can't be answered, but because it seems to demand that our governments exist to give us a sense of security, rather than a sense of our duties in the case of a war. ...
So what is brewing in Waziristan and what does the West propose to do about it, except cheer Musharraf on?