Pakistan goes after Mehsud

posted at 9:28 am on June 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Over the last few months, Pakistan has learned a hard lesson about cutting deals with Islamist extremists, and at least for now appears ready to act on those lessons.  Today Pakistan declared war on Baitullah Mehsud, the most powerful of the Taliban warlords, in South Waziristan.  That will come as good news to Afghanistan and NATO, assuming Pakistan doesn’t quit halfway into it:

Pakistan has ordered its army to attack Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taleban, in his mountainous stronghold of South Waziristan — also believed to be the hiding place of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief.

The order to open a new front was announced last night by Owais Ahmed Ghani, governor of North West Frontier Province, and confirmed by the army, which is already fighting the Taleban in several regions across the northwest.

The announcement will be welcomed by the United States, which has been pushing Pakistan to attack South Waziristan, although some officials and experts have raised concerns about overstretching the Pakistani army.

Mr Ghani blamed Mr Mehsud for a suicide bombing that killed eight people yesterday in the town of Dera Ismail Khan — the latest in a spate of attacks since the army attacked the Taleban in the northwestern region of Swat in late April.

Mehsud and his arm of the Taliban has a close relationship with al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.  Mehsud has been on the US target list for years, but successive Pakistani governments have been reluctant to go after Mehsud.  The terrain in South Waziristan strongly favors Mehsud, and previous skirmishes have alienated tribes in the region that have taken the worst of the fighting.

Musharraf and Zardari have both tried truces and bribes in the region, to no avail.  Mehsud has no intention of retiring, and he wants to see an Islamist revolution wipe out the Islamabad government.  A series of very foolish truces with the radical Islamists nearly achieved that end earlier this spring, until the Islamabad government had no choice but to fight or flee.

How long will Zardari and Gilani fight in South Waziristan?  The army has not performed well there in the past for various reasons, and the intelligence service is almost openly sympathetic to the Islamists.  If Islamabad could call for NATO support and coordination in the fight, it would make a great deal of difference, but that itself could create a revolution.  But even a half-measure at this time would be better than the full-scale retreat of the past year or so, and the US and NATO can take advantage of the fighting through less public means and squeeze Mehsud and AQ in their stronghold.


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With the Iran situation, any whiff of a revolution in Pakistan is going to have our president curled up in the fetal position crying like a baby.

myrenovations on June 15, 2009 at 9:36 AM

“TOTUS, don’t fail me now.”

B Man on June 15, 2009 at 9:37 AM

Wasn’t there some keystone cops episode with a somali war lord during the Clinton reign?

I remember Rush having a daily update on this war lord who was all over the media giving interviews to Clinton’s state-run media but managed to stay one step ahead of the hapless Clinton-controlled military.

Is it simply a case of Democrat reigns being cursed?

jeff_from_mpls on June 15, 2009 at 9:39 AM

and the US and NATO can take advantage of the fighting through less public means and squeeze Mehsud and AQ in their stronghold.

Even a soft wall is better than no wall

Gwillie on June 15, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Ed, your faith in the Pakistani government is underwhelming. That’s what you get for paying attention. It just harshes your mellow.

SKYFOX on June 15, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Bait’allah

means:

“Bayt” – House
of
“Allah”- Allah

Maybe someone will drop a bomb on him and send him there!

Send him to Allah’s house! bye bye!

blatantblue on June 15, 2009 at 9:47 AM

With the Iran situation, any whiff of a revolution in Pakistan is going to have our president curled up in the fetal position crying like a baby.

myrenovations on June 15, 2009 at 9:36 AM

And lots more stories about Michelle Obama’s killer arms!

highhopes on June 15, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Hide the nukes!!!!!!!!

txag92 on June 15, 2009 at 10:00 AM

It will not work, going after Mr. Obama supporters… he wants yo give these people health care

steviedfromnc on June 15, 2009 at 10:02 AM

how long before oboombi tskes credit for PAK-EE-STANS offensive?

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 10:02 AM

The announcement will be welcomed by the United States, which has been pushing Pakistan to attack South Waziristan, although some officials and experts have raised concerns about overstretching the Pakistani army.

It is insane to think that anything good is going to come of this. It is a tribal region with no real allegience to the formal government. It’s a no-win situation and, if Meshud is captured or killed he becomes an instant martyr.

Barak Hussein Obama simply doesn’t understand what a monumental task he is giving our combat troops in the region. More importantly, he doesn’t give a damn.

highhopes on June 15, 2009 at 10:03 AM

how long before oboombi tskes credit for PAK-EE-STANS offensive?

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 10:02 AM

He’ll wait to see if it works or not. If it doesn’t then it will be GWB’s fault.

highhopes on June 15, 2009 at 10:04 AM

also believed to be the hiding place of Osama bin Laden

I think they mean “resting place.”

notropis on June 15, 2009 at 10:07 AM

highhopes on June 15, 2009 at 10:04 AM

yeah, it’s funny how everything with a negative spin is W’s fault, and your exactely right he’ll wait to see what happens……………..

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Here’s hoping that the TB has overreached and the tribes are in nascent “sons of iraq” mode, ready to end the violence and get rid of the interlopers. IF, and it’s a big if, the tribes are ready to be rid of the TB, AQ, and foreign fighters associaterd with them, this could work.

todler on June 15, 2009 at 10:13 AM

If the healthcare fight erodes BHO’s political capital foreign leaders will be the first to notice and will act accordingly… our geo-political model might be in for a rude awakening

mjbrooks3 on June 15, 2009 at 10:15 AM

how long before oboombi tskes credit for PAK-EE-STANS offensive?

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 10:02 AM

If the sun shines, thank Obama. If it rains too much, blame Bush. I should think we all have this memorized by now.

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 10:16 AM

How might this Pakistani offensive impact US forces in Afghanistan?

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 10:16 AM

your right,but i can’t help but try to be optamistic…

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 10:16 AM

our troops should mount a offense of there own,the best defense is a good offense……….this could choke a lot of life out of the taliban, a big defeat would be hard to recover from………….

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 10:37 AM

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 10:37 AM

That sounds good… if the Paks can be trusted.

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Anyone else get an ad for Pakistani singles on this page? Google’s ability to deliver content-sensitive ads is just amazing.

hawksruleva on June 15, 2009 at 10:58 AM

if the Paks can be trusted.

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 10:54 AM

i’d have to say no on that one.

SHARPTOOTH on June 15, 2009 at 11:09 AM

Anyone know about how far a distance the Pakistani military will have to push to actually make it to this guy’s stronghold? And is that out of the range of our drones, because this guy sounds like a prime target for a CIA op.

Ack on June 15, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Unfortunately Mehsud has organized into a larger organizational unit called the Shadow Army, which is a multi-terrorist cooperative organization inside Pakistan consisting of: Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, Hizb-i-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, and other terror groups.

This larger organization has even been doing ‘terrorism for hire’ and sending suicide bombers out on commercial contracts inside Pakistan. Likewise a cooperative training organization has been growing up in the NWFP and other tribal areas, where teenage boys are rounded up for indoctrination.

These organizations have made supply of our troops (and all of Afghanistan) a tenuous proposition as 90% of outside supplies for our troops goes through Pakistan and the regions that are under tribal control. Less than 10% of our supplies can be lifted in by air, the bulk must come by sea via Pakistan’s ports, then through the mountain passes and two lane highways. I have supported the backing of a secondary supply route that ignores Russia (which will not help) going from the Black Sea (or Turkey if it will help) through Azerbaijan to the Caspian Sea then to Turkmenistan and from there to Afghanistan. That would take diplomacy, skill, backing, and the willingness to build the necessary supply infrastructure to open that path. Doing so would open up a vital trade route for central Asia under US auspices, too, which would be a huge ‘good will’ effort and would pay separate dividends in central Asia… but that takes foresight, courage, knowledge of geo-diplomacy, strategic overview and the ability to buy the six to eight months to get it done. It would cut Russia out of the loop entirely.

Because it requires skill, patience, diplomacy, the ability to negotiate, the willingness to back up the declaration of Congress to fight there, and to be creative and do something that would benefit others beyond just our forces, I know that this Administration will not do that.

Nor will it purchase, build or even rent the planes necessary to open up an ‘air bridge’ of ongoing supplies from India or Iraq or Georgia.

Going after Mehsud is fine and dandy, but it is no longer just about Mehsud, as he is just a leading player amongst many, include the ever skilled and deadly Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the real kingpin of terror in central Asia, able to threaten China (the guy who helped train the Uighars). HE is supported by the ISI… Pakistan has a problem. It could start with its own government’s support of terrorism and simplify who its friends and enemies are… that, too, takes courage, skill, etc. which they have not demonstrated since they started paying Hekmatyar under Zia in the 70′s.

ajacksonian on June 15, 2009 at 12:34 PM

I demand an immediate media update on the condition of Obama’s new puppy!

profitsbeard on June 15, 2009 at 1:09 PM