Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Red Harvest 2

Some background on Pakistan from Arnaud de Borchgrave which may provide helpful context for the Red Mosque seige. He essentially maintains that the central government has lost control of two of the seven tribal provinces. Musharraf has tried to keep up the appearance that he is control, but that fiction is wearing thin.

Since then both North and South Waziristan, two of the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), are under de facto Taliban control. Its leaders say they have established the "Islamic Emirate of Waziristan." Shariah courts are operating in both Wana (south) and Miranshah (north), the two Waziristan capitals. And hundreds of youngsters have been recruited for suicide bombing missions in Afghanistan. ...

Unless the Pakistani army restores the central government writ in FATA, the United States may decide the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan is tantamount to a declaration of independence by Taliban and al-Qaida -- and a green light to bomb and attack with special forces. But if Musharraf decides to re-invade the tribal region, he runs the risk of a national upheaval by powerful radical forces. And if he doesn't and lets the United States attack the Taliban's privileged sanctuaries in FATA, he still runs the same risk, perhaps even greater.

But in case anyone should get the impression that this contest is strictly between the Army and the Islamists, hold on. It's even more complicated then that. The Strategy Page argues that Pakistan is in the grip of a three way power struggle.


Pakistan is facing a civil war between the military (representing about ten percent of the population), the Islamic militants (about 30 percent) and the secular political parties (60 percent). The military groups are the most disciplined, and are well funded by a military business empire (an outgrowth of military foundations established to provide pensions and such for veterans). The Islamic militants are the most poor and ill educated, with most of their supporters in the tribal areas. The political parties are crippled by partisanship and corruption, but are currently more united and focused by a desire to avoid a religious dictatorship, or a military one. The Islamic militants are trying to use terror to take over. The political parties use large demonstrations and strikes. The military has police and troops. No one wants a civil war, but everyone wants to run the country.

The question that must be posed then it what role the Red Mosque seige plays in this scenario. Plainly put, it may play the role of a match in a black-power magazine. But even if it does not set off a conflagration, Pakistan is likely to remain a pretty volatile place. How volatile? We are about to find out.

Update

Time profiles the "believers" in the Red Mosque in a fine, almost awestruck style.

Once inside the metal gate we suck lungfuls of air through wetted rags. Young girls pass bowls of salt. Eating salt lessens the effects of the tear gas, they say, with an air of practiced impatience. This is the second time the madrassah students have been tear-gassed; they know what to do. The afternoon call to prayer echoes through the halls, barely audible above the wails of wounded women. Still, there is comfort to be found in its bland predictability. Dozens of hands push cups of water on me, conscientious, even in the middle of mayhem, of the foreigner in their midst. Not a good time to ask if it has been purified, I decide. ...

One of the female students laughs at the idea of an al- Qaeda link. "We ourselves are willing to die for our school, we don't need any outsiders to do it for us," she says. (I later learn that the explosion came from the environmental ministry, which had been torched to the ground while I was inside the madrassah). The woman offers me lunch. When I point out that perhaps this isn't the best time, considering the ongoing fighting, she just shrugs. "No," she agrees. "It is not a good time. But you are our guest, and we have to look after your well being."

Eventually I take advantage of a lull in the fighting to slip out the back of the complex to the street. Adeem leaves me at the gate. Eyes still blazing, she bids me farewell. "Tell them how angry we are," she says. "Write in your story how willing we are to die for our cause." It doesn't sound like rhetoric any more. It sounds like a promise.

9 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

Hunt Is On For US-NATO Inside Pakistan?

Syed Saleem Shahzad reports in the Asia Times that Pervez Musharraf and US and NATO commanders have reached an agreement giving Coalition forces the green light to hunt operatives and camps of the Taliban and al-Qaeda inside Pakistan’s borders and that “coalition forces will start hitting targets wherever they might be.”

7/04/2007 02:15:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The Jihadi movement is the proper heir of Marxism-Leninism. A very large part of its appeal consists in that it offers the poor a vision of earthly justice against the corrupt and wordly rulers of their nations -- corrupt men, who very often were yesterday's Marxist firebrands. Thus the almost saintly appeal of "learned" and rich men like Zawahiri and Bin Laden who represent denial, commitment and a complete surrender to the faith.

The hold of Bin Laden over the poor, yearning not only for Paradise but worldly justice as falsely but romantically embodied in sharia law, the law of Allah is as strong or stronger than the hold Lenin had on his disciples. Today's strongman-presidents may have gold and thugs, but they don't have romance. And looking at our Western intelligensia, neither do they. Even we are revolted by the sight of them. To the man in the desert or the Northwest Frontier, the multiculti transgendered spokesman of today's liberal society must appear as more ridiculous than Bozo the Clown. And perhaps he is. It might be argued that any honest man forced to choose between today's Left and the al-Qaeda might find himself attracted, despite everything, to the purer killer.

But I am not one to step back and long admire an advancing executioner. Bin Laden, whatever he may be, is determined to kill me, my family and friends. He aims to extinguish my culture; bury my beliefs; enslave my survivors. This he will not do so long as I can help it. And it's this basic, elemental resistance that really stands in the way of the Jihad as it once barred the Commissars. Not armies nor clever diplomats. It is sanity that ultimately defies the seductive whisperings of power. In Tolkien's story it is not the Wise or the Great Captains but the simpleton that collapses the dark tower. He preferred his garden to cold and adamantine stone.

7/04/2007 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

If there is a politician anywhere with an impossible task it must be Musharraf. The very idea that semi-autonomous tribal areas can exist within the national boundaries of a contemporary nation state speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, in part at least, globalization cuts both ways. As much as we would all like to leave Pakistan's tribal areas out of sight and out of mind forever, the probability that AQ would use this region as a base to export murder and mayhem to the West is very high.

As I understand it the locals like their primitive lifestyle just fine and have no interest in participating in modernity, particularly when that means an upheaval of their entire value system. That makes it much more likely that the locals will team up with AQ to keep both NATO and Musharraf from establishing a permanent presence in the region.

There is plenty of precedents for dealing with these situations but few are pretty and none would find any widespread public acceptance in the West. I think the very best we can hope for is that the locals will actively resist AQ and anybody else with aspirations outside the region in exchange for their survival. First, however, they must become convinced that survival is at stake.

7/04/2007 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

PeterBoston:

The very idea that semi-autonomous tribal areas can exist within the national boundaries of a contemporary nation state speaks for itself.

France, anyone?

Unfortunately, in part at least, globalization cuts both ways. As much as we would all like to leave Pakistan's tribal areas out of sight and out of mind forever, the probability that AQ would use this region as a base to export murder and mayhem to the West is very high.

Now you're touching on the elephant in the room vis-a-vis the Long War. Globalization, not just the economic but also the cultural and technological varieties, not only enables jihadists to circumvent national borders with ease and impunity, but much like The Blob, it also has a way of slowly dissolving any culture it touches into a single, amorphous mass.

The upshot of both these things is that over time, the viability of the Westphalian order of sovereign nation-states will be put in serious jeopardy from both the nation (cultural) and state (law and order) sides - a crucial precondition for the re-emergence of a global Caliphate.

7/04/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Strategy Page also had this howler:

June 28, 2007: China is not happy with the way Islamic militants recently treated Chinese staff and customers at a massage parlor in the capital. The Pakistani government said it would improve security, especially against attacks by Islamic militants offended by the "immoral customs of infidel Chinese". China is Pakistan's largest, and most reliable, supplier of weapons.

It should not be overlooked that besides Pakistan, the EFP IEDs Iran is using against our guys comes from what the moron Bush calls "our Chinese friends and trading partners". Let's hope the Jihadis are bigger morons than Bush and start killing their #1 weapons supplier as "immoral infidels".

Pakistan may be a real issue soon. We can't let their lack of sovereignity allow terrorist enclaves to develop while the Paks insist their national pride will not let them allow anyone to go into Baluchistan or N/S Waziristan without full war with the entire nation of Pakistan.

Pakistan may have to decide: Does their internal religious problem and divided populace make them willing to engage in full war against people coming in and cleaning up their Islamic terrorist staging and recruitment areas? War that could go nuclear or have the USA bomb out all Paks nuclear facilities in a conventional/tac nuke strike??

Tough call for the Pakis.

7/04/2007 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I whole-heartedly agree with the 'match in a black powder keg' analogy, Wretchard. A couple of months ago I used the same analogy, calling it The Madrassa Match and the Pakistani Tinderbox. The Strategy Page post you reference on the breakdown is a good one, and, as you say, the problem is that everyone seems to want control rather than a share. Such are the things civil wars emerge from.

'Democracy' in Pakistan, while consistent with our own ideals, is seen by many in Pakistan as less a persistent form of governance, but rather an interim vehicle toward full control by each of the groups currently at odds. Currently, it's Musharraf's to lose. And that is precisely what he is doing in an insurgency that can best be described as a 'Death by a Thousand Cuts.'

7/04/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Good points Joshua and Wretchard, but I would add one more.

The reaction to the "transgendered Multiculti" spokesperson in the West and rejection of globalization is just as strong if not stronger than the appeal of jihad and the "lean man of the desert" is to the simple poor and the simple minded intellectual. [Robert Fiske's account of meeting his hero Osama is almost word-for-word a recounting of TE Lawrence's account of meeting Faisal.]

You can see the Western Rejection in the failed Amnesty-Open Borders bill (more people trust Reps than Dems on the issue now AFTER rejection of Amnesty according to at least one poll). You can see it in the growth of the BNP using web technology to get around the Media Blackout. [I have seen the BNP sites and am filled with unease and dread.]

Globalization is presented as some "force of history" that like Gravity will simply exist. But global trade can be stopped. Somali and Indonesian pirates can stop much of global trans-oceanic trade. A trade war with China or even widespread US consumer revolt over dangerous/unsafe products could take the linchpin out of Global Trade (US-China trade). Terrorist attacks on Air transport and using cargo shipments could effectively end the container traffic across the Atlantic and Pacific.

And the forces of angry, Jacksonian Nationalism last seen in the US in 1941-45 can be pretty scary in their determination.

What strikes me is the forces of globalization pretty much dissolving nations/cultures and producing the Islamist/Jihad backlash is also producing the Nationalist backlash in the West.

What does the transgendered multi-culti spokesperson offer the average joe in the West? Nothing but revulsion. A new Cromwell, Napoleon, Arthur, or Sigmund?

Well, that's another story.

7/04/2007 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger NoGenius said...

Wretchard,

off topic, but Iraq the Model has been dormant for a month. Do you know anything about it or had any contact with him?

7/04/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Does anyone know what level of control the US has over the Pakistani nuclear arsenal?

Off topic: Michael Yon wrote an interesting criticism of the MSM's non-coverage of the al Qaeda massacre at al Hamira. I was impressed by the sophistication of most of the people commenting at Yon's website. A random moonbat barked some typical nonsense and was simply ignored. This seems to be becoming more common.

7/04/2007 11:42:00 AM  

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