"The Bourbon kings remembered everything, but learnt nothing."
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The New York Times imitates Bill Roggio.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.
The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year. The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials.
Here's what Bill Roggio, now embedded in Iraq, wrote nearly two months ago in his The History of the Fall of Waziristsan.
On June 25, I sounded the alarm that a truce would be in the offing 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.
And as with the "insurgency" and the "militias" in Iraq, one basic reason why the Taliban will never be completely eliminated in Afghanistan is because they have safe havens across the border. To graphically illustrate this, imagine that you're trying to keep your yard clean next to a neighbor who keeps throwing trash over the fence. You are allowed to keep cleaning your yard; you are even allowed to ply your neighbor with gifts in a process called engagement. You are even permitted to promise part of another person's lot to your pesky neighbor in an effort to get him to stop. But the one thing you will never be permitted is to punch his lights out. You may be a very long time in keeping your premises clean; and while in ordinary life most people would call you stupid, in international relations you will earn fame as a statesman. Here's the New York Times again on events in Pakistan.
This year more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused “American spies” have been killed, several of them in beheadings, as the militants have used a reign of terror to impose what President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan calls a creeping “Talibanization.” Last year, at least 100 others were also killed. While the tribes once offered refuge to the militants when they retreated to the area in 2002 after the American invasion of Afghanistan, that welcome is waning as the killings have generated new tensions and added to the region’s volatility. “They are taking territory,” said one Western ambassador in Pakistan. “They are becoming much more aggressive in Pakistan.”
Ironically, a terrorist mini-state like Waziristan can be useful within the context of the Sunni-Shi'ite global rivalry because it provides Sunni "militant" organizations with an acceptable substitute for the former al-Qaeda training camp of Afghanistan. Competition in terrorist politics compels a strange symmetry. Sunni states fearful of a Shi'ite revival envy Iran it's bomb -- and its terrorist capability. The doggerel ditty "any gun you will need I will need better; I can need any gun better than you," is a sentiment any terrorist would understand. The terrorist postgraduate school in Waziristan, now undergoing renovation, has no lack of applicants.
In recent weeks, Pakistani intelligence officials said the number of foreign fighters in the tribal areas was far higher than the official estimate of 500, perhaps as high as 2,000 today. These fighters include Afghans and seasoned Taliban leaders, Uzbek and other Central Asian militants, and what intelligence officials estimate to be 80 to 90 Arab terrorist operatives and fugitives, possibly including the Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri. ...
Who is paying the tuition? Anyone with a need for guns for hire.
[a captured suicide] bomber said that the former head of Pakistani intelligence, Gen. Hamid Gul, was financing and supporting the project, according to the statement, though the claim is impossible to verify. ... Money continues to flow in from religious supporters at home and in the Persian Gulf, as well as from a range of illicit activities like a lucrative opium trade, smuggling and even kidnapping, said diplomats, United Nations analysts and local journalists.
What's not widely realized is that the Fall of Waziristan was occasioned by attempts to "engage" the Taliban. Safe behind an international border from military pursuit, the Pakistani plan was to buy them off. By acceding to their "legitimate" demands it was thought that the militants would leave Afghanistan alone and quit carving up Pakistan. Under the deal, the militants would cease cross-border operations, refrain from killing Pakistani officials and stop spreading their influence in exchange for dismantling checkpoints, releasing detainees, returning captured weapons and declaring an amnesty. They would get guns in return for a promise not to use them. Peace would descend over the region and Nobel Prizes would be handed out like Crackerjack prizes. But as some might have guessed, the militants lied.
Still, Javed Iqbal, the newly appointed Pakistani secretary of the tribal areas, defended the North Waziristan accord as an effort to return to the traditional way of running the tribal areas, through the tribal chiefs. That system, employed by the British and Pakistani rulers alike, was eroded during the military campaigns of the last few years. “We have tried the coercive tactic, we did not achieve much,” he said in an interview in Peshawar. “So what do you do? Engage.”
"So what do you do?" You die. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Khomeini's Islamic Revolution was the fashion leader for al-Qaeda; Nasrallah for Moqtada al-Sadr. Who in heaven's name would emulate Pakistan's approach? Oh wait ...