Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Highly Infectious, Deadly Malady

Pakistan feels confident that its army has finally regained control of Swat, with clashes with the Taliban concluding in a cleansed area, permitting villagers and townspeople to return to their homes. The military is finalizing, they say, the campaign to crush the militants, and they are focusing attention on the Taliban's Baitullah Mehsud in his strongholds in the tribal regions. They are also intent on opening up a front where al-Qaeda is reputed to be ensconced, along the border with Afghanistan.

Villagers have heeded the encouragement to return, to discover a critically broken infrastructure. No electricity, nor running potable water. Their crops, wheat and tobacco have rotted in the fields. Those who have returned face intolerable hardship. Which they have chosen rather than continue to endure the misery of the refugee camps, squalid and inadequately provisioned. They await compensation from the government, and well may they wait until their plight is finally recognized.

For the country has more than enough problems trying to restore some semblance of normalcy, in Swat attempting to revive a formerly vibrant tourism economy, everything destroyed by the Taliban swooping down to take possession of greater swaths of geography once the accommodating administration of the former - let alone the current - governments acceded control to them of the tribal lands. Hoping such a conciliatory gesture would keep them in their place.

The fears of the Western world that the Taliban and their great good friends, al-Qaeda were moving closer to the country's nuclear installations near Buner district are for the moment, allayed, but terror does not rest on its laurels of mere attempts. What has been attempted before and failed, will be tried again, the prize elusive but provoking greater determination. From Afghanistan al-Qaeda has pledged it will take possession of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

"God willing, the nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans. We will take control of them and fight the Americans with them", pledged the Afghan Taliban's leader, Abu al-Yazid. Crowing at the same time that U.S. troops were withdrawing from Iraq because they have been defeated; the jihadists having succeeded in their holy war.

While this is the usual full-blown rhetoric of the Islamists having little basis in reality, it is undeniable that al-Qaeda affiliates have opened their assaults on a number of fronts.

Not necessarily new, but with renewed ferocity and intent. In Somalia, Yemen, and in the Philippines, for example. Somalia presents as the ultimate failed state, with clashes becoming more frequent between government forces and the forces of jihad.
Al Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden
Somali extremists have been joined by an al-Qaeda force battling the transitional government. Fighters who have earned their battle scars in Pakistan. Afghanistan, and Iraq, now fighting in Somalia.

To accomplish the vision of a consolidated al-Qaeda-run state from Mozambique onward.
East Africa now sees itself inheriting the military prowess of some of the most dedicated and dangerous terrorists in the world. Kenya has reason to be nervous in its geographic proximity.

And in the Philippines al-Qaeda affiliated Abu Sayyaf group has been clashing with government forces, along with terrorists from the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The army of the Philippines claims to have killed hundreds of jihadist and separatist terrorists in their battles with security forces over the past few months in Sulu and Mindanao.

Al-Qaeda in the Magreb is doing its part to claim the ascendancy, doing honour to its jihadist heritage, and its place in the hierarchy of world terror brought to this Globe by the fanatical insistence of its tutor, Osama bin Laden.

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