In the absence of a coherent narrative about the failed Christmas Day attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the debate about how best to tackle al Qaeda and its Islamist allies has once again been thrown wide open.
Pakistan: Now or Never?
In openDemocracy, Paul Rogers writes that one of the great mistakes of the media is that it tends to assume the only actors in the campaign against Islamist militants are governments, with al Qaeda and the Taliban merely passive players.
This new style of international terrorism was quite unlike militant groups he had investigated in the past, with their pyramidal structures. “After 1994/1995, like viruses, all the groups have been spreading on a very large scale all over the world, in a horizontal way and even a random way,” he said. “All the groups are scattered, very polymorphous and even mutant.”
One of the things U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran into last week during her trip to Pakistan was anger over attacks by unmanned “drone” aircraft inside Pakistan and along the border with Afghanistan.
The Jihadica website has just posted an item about an apparent rift between al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in the so-called Quetta shura led by Mullah Omar.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have questioned before the value of the “AfPak” label, which implies that an incredibly complicated situation involving many different countries can be reduced to a five-letter word.
A week after suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents attacked the headquarters of the Pakistan Army, a suicide bomber killed six senior Revolutionary Guards commanders and 25 other people in Shi’ite Iran in one of the deadliest attacks in years on the country’s most powerful military institution.
An attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in the city of Rawalpindi has highlighted the country’s vulnerability to a backlash from Islamist militants in the Pakistani Taliban as it prepares an offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan. It follows a suicide bombing in Peshawar which prompted Interior Minister Rehman Malik to say that “all roads are leading to South Waziristan.”
With one million Britons of Pakistani origin, and as the former colonial power, Britain has a unique relationship with Pakistan. But concerns about Britain’s vulnerability to bomb attacks planned by Pakistan-based militants — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that three-quarters of the most serious plots investigated by British authorities had links to al Qaeda in Pakistan — has made for a rocky relationship.