Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pattern recognition

The recent successes in Iraq's Anbar province has been due in large part to local tribal sheiks turning on al Qaeda in Iraq and siding with US forces and the elected Iraqi government. Now it appears that this pattern is about to repeat itself in Afghanistan, where the Afghan government is close to turning an Afghan tribal militia leader, formerly allied with the Taliban, to its side.
An Afghan tribal leader is in talks to defect from the Taliban and take thousands of armed tribesmen with him to fight alongside British forces in southern Afghanistan.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Afghan government hopes to seal the deal this week with Mullah Abdul Salaam and his Alizai tribe, which has been fighting alongside the Taliban in Helmand province.

Diplomats confirmed yesterday that Mullah Salaam was expected to change sides within days. He is a former Taliban corps commander and governor of Herat province under the government that fell in 2001.
This almost certainly involves a promise of some level of political power for Mullah Salaam and his cronies, so it remains to be seen what the long-term effect of this alliance will be. But the short-term effect will not be good for the Taliban.

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