Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Taliban Campaign

Since the summer, I've noted the increased jihadi attention to Pakistan and predicted that Pakistan would become the next front--the Taliban Campaign. I also argued that the Pakistanis would need to welcome more of our direct help in their western frontier regions to battle the greater threat.

More analysts are coming to the same conclusion:

"Pakistan should be carefully watched because it could prove to be a significant flashpoint in the coming year," US think tank Strategic Forecasting said in an evaluation of al-Qa'ida's tactics as the Islamist group comes under mounting pressure in Iraq.

With the "rapid spread of Talibanisation" in Pakistan's insurgent northwest, the country would become "especially important if the trend in Iraq continues to go against the jihadis and they are driven from Iraq", the assessment says.

"As the global headquarters for the al-Qa'ida leadership, Pakistan has long been a significant stronghold on the ideological battlefield. If the trend towards radicalisation continues, the country could become the new centre of gravity for the jihadi movement on the physical battlefield."

The Stratfor assessment coincided with reports from Washington suggesting US Special Forces would expand their presence in Pakistan in the new year.

While the issue of Pakistani nuclear weapons makes this campaign appear the most dangerous yet, I don't think the jihadis can draw to an inside straight and seize control of Pakistan.

Indeed, by taking what was once their secure rear area and turning it into an active front, the jihadis may be on their last jihad.