U.S. Strikes Making Taliban Angry

I must confess some amusement over the YahooNews headline “Officials say Taliban mad over alleged US strike.” The lede is also encouraging.

The Taliban are unusually angry about the latest suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan, a sign a top militant may have died in the attack, officials and residents said Sunday amid reports the death toll rose by two to 24.

Less amusing but interesting:

Elsewhere in Pakistan’s northwest, an official said some 15,000 Afghans had left a tribal region the military is trying to wrest from insurgents, but that tens of thousands more had yet to meet a government ultimatum to get out by Sunday.

The U.S. has ramped up cross-border strikes on alleged al-Qaida and Taliban targets along Pakistan’s side of the border with Afghanistan, straining the two nations’ anti-terror alliance.

The U.S. says pockets of Pakistan’s border region, especially in its semi-autonomous tribal areas, are bases for militants attacking American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. It has pushed nuclear-armed Pakistan to eliminate the safe havens.  The frontier region is believed to be a possible hiding place for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, and several Arab militants were said to be among the dead in Friday’s strike in North Waziristan tribal region.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials said that over the weekend two people wounded in the attack died at a hospital in Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan. The officials sought anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media. Based on information from informants and agents in the field, the intelligence officials said the Taliban appeared extra-perturbed over the latest strike. The anger was a signal that a senior militant may have been killed, but that has yet to be confirmed, the officials said.

The insurgents were moving aggressively in the area while using harsh language against locals, including calling them “saleable commodities” — a reference to people serving as government spies, the officials said.   Two local residents said Taliban fighters had warned people not to discuss the strike, including with the media, or to try inspecting the rubble at the site. The residents asked not to be named for fear of Taliban retaliation.

We’re making legitimate progress, I think, about Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the border region but we may be doing it at too high a price.  At a recent Atlantic Council event, retired General Barry McCaffrey argued that we’re making a mistake by focusing on Pakistan, which he considers a strong ally, and that we should concentrate our efforts inside Afghanistan.  But, as I note in a New Atlanticist piece, a growing number of experts are asking Whose side is Pakistan really on?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. tom p says:

    We’re making legitimate progress, I think, about Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the border region but we may be doing it at too high a price.

    Attacking enemy forces on the other side of an international border is a tactical option with possibly serious diplomatic ramifications. As such, I do not think such a decision should be made by the in theater generals alone (their job, is to kill the enemy). I realize there are problems with the time it takes for such things to go up the chain of command but how long does it take to make a phone call to the SecDef, who by virtue of his position in the cabinet will be far more in tune to the diplomatic blow back?

    As best I can recall there have only been 2 instances where the attacks inflicted serious casualties (high value targets)upon the Taliban. The majority have done little more than incense the locals and increase the political pressure upon the Pakistani Gov’t to disassociate themselves from us.

    a growing number of experts are asking, Whose side is Pakistan really on?

    I recall an old saw that goes, “You can not buy an Afghan, but you sure can rent one.” I am sure the same can be said of a Pakistani. We are “renting” them but they apply a cost benefit analysis to that relationship that does not mirror our own.

    The answer to the question is obviously, They are on their own side.

  2. Bithead says:

    If there’s any indication that the American strikes in Pakistan are justified, it’s the Taliban’s reaction.

  3. Frank says:

    Why are we there again? Oh yea, it’s the phony War On Terror Bullshit that’s bankrupted and destroyed the USA. But keep justifying the necessity of spending little or no taxpayer money on …. taxpayers! What a bunch of GDamned fools you are. Military Industrial Complex can kiss my f*cking ass. You assholes. USRael can go to hell.

  4. Bithead says:

    Is this an example of the intelligence centered around opposition to the war?

  5. anjin-san says:

    The answer to the question is obviously, They are on their own side.

    That sounds about right. Pakistan will cooperate with us to a certain extent based on their own perceived interests. Their leader have to weight the risk/reward equation domestically.

    Bit. Dude! You have been absent from the Palin threads. Thought you were going to meet me after the debate to gloat…

    An Ipsos/McClatchy poll found that Gov. Sarah Palin’s performance in last week’s vice presidential debate actually hurt her running mate, Sen. John McCain, among undecided voters.

    Before the debate, undecided voters were leaning 56% to 44% for McCain. The day after the debate, the numbers tilted 52% to 48% for Sen. Barack Obama.

    Said pollster Clifford Young: “It’s suggesting an overall tendency of undecideds toward Obama, so it is significant. We’re catching an underlying trend that’s going on.”

    The poll also found that Sen. Joe Biden won the debate, 54% to 46%.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    Why are we there again? Oh yea, it’s the phony War On Terror Bullshit that’s bankrupted and destroyed the USA.

    lol and I thought it is was the liberals, well you live and you learn.

  7. Bithead says:

    Bit. Dude! You have been absent from the Palin threads. Thought you were going to meet me after the debate to gloat…

    You’re going to find I very seldom gloat… even when the person I’m gloating over, richly deserves it, as in this case.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Interesting take bit. You were wrong, I was right. But you are not going to gloat. Big of you.

    At any rate, tell Palain to keep talking and winking. Every time she does, its another nail in the coffin of the McCain campaign.

  9. tom p says:

    funny… I could’a sworn we were talking about Afghanistan…