Leadership: Taliban Management Shuffle

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February 28, 2010: The Taliban has been forced to undergo a reorganization. For example, the the high command of the terrorist organization is the Quetta Shura (council), consisting of fifteen of the most senior leaders. But so far this year, seven of the fifteen members of the Quetta Shura have been arrested, and most of the others are scattered and on the run. Technically, the Quetta Shura is still in Quetta, the largest city in southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan). Since 2001, the Pakistani government has tolerated (while denying) the presence of the Taliban leadership in the city of 900,000. In return, the Taliban did not get involved helping the local Baluchi tribes that have been fighting a low level war to obtain concessions from the government (especially a higher cut of the natural gas produced in the area.) But now Pakistan has allowed (after lots of arm twisting), American UAVs to expand their missile attacks to Baluchistan, and particularly Quetta. In the last few months, this has caused many Taliban leaders to flee Quetta, often for more distant Pakistani cities (like Karachi.)

The Taliban leaders have learned, the hard way, that they cannot depend on electronic communications. Even using encrypted Internet communications is dangerous for them, so couriers are popular, and face-to-face meetings difficult to arrange under the current conditions. But with nearly all the Quetta Shura arrested or running for cover, it's been impossible to make any major decisions. That leaves the running of things (such as it is), to four lesser Shuras, which are also under pressure from Pakistani police and American missiles.

Decisions are still getting made, but without the consensus that the Shura arrangement delivers. Consensus is important, because too many people in the Taliban believe they should be the boss, or are looking out for family or tribal interests as well. Civil war within the Taliban has been a problem always lurking just beneath the surface. There are already four major factions (two each in the Afghanistan and Pakistan branches, and several further subdivisions.) The current tribulations of the Quetta Shura is likely to lead to even more divisiveness.

 

 


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