The 21st Century Phenomenon



On Wednesday 08/05/2009 morning, two missiles fired by a USA drone have killed the youngest and second wife of the leading Pakistanii militant and the head of Tehrik-e-Taleban (TTP) Baitullah Mehsud, the most dangerous man in Pakistan who controlled the border and the supply routes to the Taliban in Afghanistan and endangered the supply to NATO-ISAF in Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass (see – Ladha 08.05.09).


Since the attack there are ongoing reports that Baitullah Mehsud himself was killed in the attack, which seems relatively reliable and supported by neighbor witnesses and by one of his lieutenants in the inner circle – commander Kafayat Ullah.


The event put to the test the integration and consolidation of the Pashtu Tribal umbrella organization –TTP and the ability of its commanders and lieutenants to agree, peacefully, on a new head. There were three leading candidates to succeed Baitullah Mehsud: the powerful Hakimullah Mehsud, who run an organization of his own – Fedayeen al-Islam; Wali-ur Rehman Mehsud (pic), one of the prominent Tehrik-e-Taleban commanders and the cousin of Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Faqir Mohammad from Swat District who does not belong to the Mehsud tribes, which is a serious disadvantage for him.


Wali-ur Rehman was born, about 30 years ago, in Makin area of South Waziristan. He has maintained a low-profile and has never appeared in front of the media in the past although he served as one of the spokesmen for Baitullah Mehsud.  His supporters claimed that Baitullah Mehsud always said that Wali-ur Rehman would be his successor.


Hakimullah Mehsud told the BBC, on Saturday 08/08/2009 morning, the reports of the death of Baitullah Mehsud were the work of USA and Pakistani intelligence agencies. The denial was probably an attempt to gain time in order to facilitate the election of a new head for TTP. Indeed few hours later a Jirga (Tribal Council) of the Mehsud tribes convened in South Waziristan, most likely to elect a new commander for the TTP. The third leading candidate to head the Tehrik-e-Taleban, Maulana Faqir Mohammad, did not attend the meeting which indicates the Tehrik-e-Taleban is actually disintegrating to its tribal factions.     


According to Pakistani Intelligence reports they failed to agree and a shootout breached out between supporters of Hakimullah Mehsud and his opponent Wali-ur Rehman. Ironically, according to Pakistani intelligence reports, Hakimullah Mehsud himself was killed in the shootout. According to the Chinese SANA – South Asia News Agency reports Wali-ur Rehman was killed too in the exchange of fire. The story was, eventually, wrong meant to create a diversion and to gain extra time for the reorganization of Tehrik-e-Taliban.  


Although the picture is not fully clear yet the event, according to local traditions, could trigger a chain of revenge and rivalries within the Mehsud tribes between the Northern faction led by Hakimullah Mehsud and the Southern Faction of the dead Baitullah Mehsud.


The disintegration of Tehrik-e-Taleban as an umbrella for Islamic militants in Pakistan and the heavy defeat of the militants in Sawat recently (see – Swat 07.10.09), along with growing coordination between the Pakistani army and USA troops in Afghanistan, might change the strategic balance between the Pakistani regime and the Islamic militancy in Pakistan itself for the better and to severely undermine the Taliban in Afghanistan. 
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