McChrystal faces ‘Iraq’ moment

Gareth Porter, one of PULSE’s 20 Top Global Media Figures of 2009, discusses Afghanistan.

TheRealNews — 20 June 2010 — McChrystal confronts the specter of a collapse of United States political support for the war

Rahimullah Yusufzai on Faisal Shahzad and breaking news from the tribal region

Rahimullah Yusufzai, who is one of PULSE’s 20 Top Global Media Figures of 2009, interviewed by Dori Smith of the excellent Talk Nation Radio.

Pakistan’s tribal border regions and North Waziristan are dangerous, veteran journalist and editor Rahimullah Yusufzai sheds light on regional militant groups, and local reaction to Faisal Shazhad case. Was it a conspiracy, people ask?

The family of Faisal Shazhad are shocked and wondering what happened. Faisal Shazhad’s Father is a liberal, explains Yusufzai, and the family is not particularly religious. Mysteries will surely surround this case for some time to come.

Pakistan: A new wave of attacks?

This is a video of my appearance on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story. For context, I’d encourage viewers to read my articles in Political Insight and Le Monde Diplomatique.

The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack on the US consulate in Peshawar on Monday. Is Pakistan paying the price for battles waged by the United States in the region?

Rahimullah Yusufzai on the Taliban, Al-Qaida and the ‘Af-Pak’ theatre

Kudos to The Real News for giving its viewers an opportunity to listen to Rahimullah Yusufzai, the most respected authority on the politics of the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier. Yusufzai was also among our 20 Top Global Media Figures of 2009.

Capture of leader will not weaken Taliban: Taliban is so strong now they have probably already replaced Baradar


Continue reading “Rahimullah Yusufzai on the Taliban, Al-Qaida and the ‘Af-Pak’ theatre”

Offensive in Marja directed at US public opinion

The reported arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar by US forces in cooperation with Pakistan is significant. He was a key member of the Quetta Shura, the central command of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan sees the Afghan Taliban as a strategic asset in its struggle against regional rivals. It would be odd therefore to hand over such a key figure to US forces. I therefore suspect three possible scenarios: 1) The reported negotiations that Baradar had been conducting with  coalition forces were unauthorized by the shura, and therefore they chose to throw him under the bus with Pakistani cooperation to preempt any possible betrayal; 2) Baradar has already cut a deal and the ‘arrest’ is staged to make his coming in from the cold appear more respectable; 3) Pakistan is trying to signal its indispensability to the Taliban who in recent months had been growing increasingly recalcitrant. Either way, it is unlikely that Baradar’s arrest will do much to diminish the gains that the Taliban have been making in recent year. Here I would also like to recommend one of the best, most comprehensive, books on the Afghan Taliban: Antonio Guistozzi’s Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan 2002-2007.

In related news, one of the world’s finest investigative reporters, Gareth Porter of the Inter Press Service is just back from Afghanistan. He notes that the attack on Marja is meant to prepare Americans to accept negotiations with Taliban.

Pakistan creates its own enemy

Funeral for the eight civilians killed in the Pakistani military's failed attempt to assassinate militant leader Mangal Bagh Afridi (EPA)

The is a version of my Le Monde Diplomatique article updated for the Arabic, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, and Portuguese editions. It is also on Counterpunch, December 4-6, 2009 (It also appears in the February 2010 issue of the Japanese monthly Sekai)

On the day I arrived in Peshawar mid-September, the evening stillness was broken by nine loud explosions, each preceded by the sucking sound of a projectile as it arced into Hayatabad, the suburban sprawl west of the city. Their target was a Frontier Constabulary post guarding the fence that separates the city from the tribal region of Khyber.

When I lived here seven years ago, Hayatabad hosted many Afghan refugees; those with fewer resources lived in the slums of Kacha Garhi, along the Jamrud Road to the Khyber Pass. Many established businesses here and dominated commerce and transportation in parts of the city. Some would temporarily migrate to Afghanistan in summer where it was cooler. But Peshawar was a sanctuary, as Afghanistan was perpetually at war. Now the remaining Afghans are leaving because Afghanistan feels safer. There are checkpoints all over the city, many kidnappings, and during my visit, there were at least three suicide bombings and four rocket attacks, many of them targeting Hayatabad.

Continue reading “Pakistan creates its own enemy”

Hakimullah Mehsud: US is our enemy, not Pakistan

Looks like the drone attack which purportedly eliminated the Taliban leadership killed yet more innocents. Hakimullah Mehsud is alive and well, and gave a press conference right in Srarogha.  ‘In truth we don’t want to fight the Pakistan Army’, said Mehsud, ‘Our aim is to remove the Americans from this region and to fight the Americans’.

AlJazeeraEnglish — 06 October 2009 — This week, Pakistan’s interior minister said that military operations carried out against the Taliban in the Swat valley, and North and South Waziristan had “broken the back” of the Taliban.

However, South Waziristan is home to an estimated 10,000 Taliban fighters and it was here that Hakimullah Mehsud, the new Taliban leader, ended rumours that he had been killed by a recent drone attack.

Kamal Hyder reports from Islamabad.