Friday 7 December 2012

End of Hakimullah's bloodthirsty reign?

Waliur Rahman, TTP leader in waiting?
Reuters is reporting an imminent change of leadership in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, saying its bloodthirsty - and by some accounts, heroin-addicted - leader Hakimullah Mahsud will soon be replaced by his rival and long-time adversary Waliur Rahman. This blog reported the threat to Mahsud's leadership three weeks ago - see Latest FATA Security Report below, on 13 November.
Reuters adds that the change will signal a new emphasis on actions in Afghanistan, rather than against the Pakistani state. It has been clear for some time that the TTP's strategy of killing Pakistani soldiers and police and targeting civilians has been winning it no friends. It was a strategy heavily influenced by al-Qaeda ideologues, who also provided funding to the organisation. Presumably these sources have now dried up, or perhaps Wali has done a deal with the ISI?
Update: Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal argues strongly that reports of a split between Rahman and Mahsud are much exaggerated. "Dare I say that Pakistani officials are using Reuters and other news agencies as part of a not-so-sophisticated information operation designed to split the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's top leadership? It is high time that news organizations see through this patently obvious nonsense," he says. He may be right, but there are other sources on the fading star of Hakimullah. One to watch.

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