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Same story, different nation - same outcome?
Posted by: McQ on Friday, August 15, 2008

Many acknowledge that the Iraqi "awakening", which began in Anbar province, was partially driven by al Qaeda brutality. Another aspect, of course, was AQ's sometimes absurd, but brutally enforced dictums - such as women not being allowed to buy "male" vegetables such as cucumbers. But the callous and unflinching brutality and the murderous zeal in which it was carried out ostracized the Sunni community in Anbar from the al Qaeda terrorists there and caused them, eventually, to rebel.

One has to wonder if the same sort of thing won't eventually happen in Pakistan's autonomous tribal area on the Pakistan/Afghan border:
Al Qaeda and the Taliban are executing suspected U.S. informants in Pakistan in a campaign to terrorize potential spies and reinforce the authority of the militant organizations across the country’s vast and volatile tribal belt.

Most of the murders take place after accused informants have confessed to spying for the Americans. Some suspects were caught with satellite telephones and global positioning devices identical to equipment provided by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Dour men in traditional clothing sell the videos at markets in the tribal region for as little as $1 each. The images are astonishingly brutal. The camera never flinches as the executioners – one, a sweet-faced boy who looks 12 or 13 – sever the heads of helpless men to chants glorifying God.
Now they may actually have caught some spies in all of this, who knows? But in reality, this is the modus operandi for AQ (and the Taliban). They rule by terror, uncompromising religious zeal and brute force. It is truly their way or death. Because of that, no matter how difficult the life of those they infest has been, it is rarely as difficult, arbitrary or deadly as it is under AQ and the Taliban.

As we saw in Iraq, then, they are their own worst enemy. To me the question is, how long will the population tolerate their brutal rule? And will they then act like the Iraqis did in Anbar?

This is where I'm not quite sure. In Iraq, when given the choice between backing the US, who the Iraqis want out of Iraq and AQ, they chose the US because the US had come to be seen as an honest broker. There is no "honest broker" in the area of Pakistan where this is all occurring.

The Pakistani army pretty much leaves the area alone and the tribes certainly have little use for the government of Pakistan as a whole.

So I'm not sure of the answer here, but I am sure that at some point AQ and Taliban will push the population beyond the acceptable brutality threshold. What they'll do about it then is the question. Given the wild and fierce reputation of the tribes of the area they may solve the problem themselves and save us the problem. At a minimum we ought to explore and deploy any means we have to facilitate that sort of problem solving happening.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

But you overlook the sound of wedding bells. This is from Small Wars Journal, describing the Anbar Awakening but mentioning the Pakistan tribal areas:

"Some tribal leaders told me that the split started over women. This is not as odd as it sounds. One of AQ’s standard techniques, which I have seen them apply in places as diverse as Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia, is to marry leaders and key operatives to women from prominent tribal families. The strategy works by creating a bond with the community, exploiting kinship-based alliances, and so “embedding” the AQ network into the society. Over time, this makes AQ part of the social landscape, allows them to manipulate local people and makes it harder for outsiders to pry the network apart from the population. (Last year, while working in the tribal agencies along Pakistan’s North-West Frontier, a Khyber Rifles officer told me “we Punjabis are the foreigners here: al Qa’ida have been here 25 years and have married into the Pashtun hill-tribes to the point where it’s hard to tell the terrorists from everyone else.”) Well, indeed."
Written By: Tom Maguire
URL: http://
Interesting (and important) point - and obviously not something which was existent in Iraq.
Written By: McQ
Yeah, I would not hold my breath. There is nothing in the murderous lifestyle of the Taliban that is different or incompatible with the religious culture that has been in existence in the area for centuries.
Written By: kyleN
Like all thugs though, they will sooner or later, go to far and p!ss off the wrong set of tribal elders.

Covertly arming the tribes at that point would seem to be the best solution. Heck, sell them Chinese arms through Pakistani intermediaries.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Another aspect, of course, was AQ’s sometimes absurd, but brutally enforced dictums - such as women not being allowed to buy "male" vegetables such as cucumbers.
What’s wrong with that?
I don’t let my wife buy cucumbers. I don’t even let her buy pickles… well… maybe the baby dills, but not the bread and butter variety. I’ve been shown up by that animated stork with the voice of Groucho Marx and I will not let it happen a second time.

I’m getting a little sick of it.

“A zucchini won’t unclog the drain for you, now will it?”
”Oh yeah, well a zucchini wouldn’t have clogged it up in the first place.”

Damned “male” vegetables… They’re probably gay anyway.

Stupid women…

(Sorry… a little misplaced humor. But it’s Friday and I can’t help it.)

Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
This is the first I’ve ever heard of ’male’ vegetables. Makes me wonder what a ’female’ vegetable is.
Written By: Moby
URL: http://
Tomatoes, supposedly...
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
This is the first I’ve ever heard of ’male’ vegetables. Makes me wonder what a ’female’ vegetable is.
AQ has decided that tomatoes qualify in that gender. How do they make decisions like that. Why is table of feminine gender in French?
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
This is the first I’ve ever heard of ’male’ vegetables. Makes me wonder what a ’female’ vegetable is.

Okay... come on... this is a gimmie...


(Okay, so technically it is a fruit. But a tomato is actually a berry. But who’s counting?)
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Tomato, cucumber, male, females, doesn’t matter, they’re all vegetables imported by White European Males (even though cucumbers originated in India, and are actually fruits, but why mess with solid, logical reasoning like assignment of human genders to garden produce).

Written By: looker
URL: http://

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