Monday, October 30, 2006

A Madrassa in the Crosshairs

Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan’s military forces have finally done something to warm my heart: they blew up a madrassa.

According to today’s Times Online:

Map of FATA showing ChingaiPakistani forces have killed up to 80 alleged militants near the Afghan border after launching an air strike on a religious school that officials said was being used as an al-Qaeda training camp.

The religious facility - known as a madrassa - was destroyed by helicopter fire in a pre-dawn raid this morning in the village of Chingai near Khar, the main town in the Bajaur tribal region, according to a spokesman for the army.

The raid sparked angry protests in the area as local tribesmen and political leaders denounced the military, insisting that those killed were innocent civilians and not terrorists.


Witnesses said at least three army helicopters swooped on the madrassa after which a huge explosion was heard. Most of the occupants in the madrassa were asleep although a few had awoken for pre-dawn prayers.
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The blast shattered the building, tearing mattresses and scattering Islamic books, including copies of the Quran.

The destroyed madrassaOh-oh! The Koran has been profaned again! Rioters on the streets of Islamabad will be burning the Pakistani flag and… Oh. Wait a minute… that won’t work.

But, according to ABC News, it wasn’t really Pakistan’s military forces that did the job: the United States took out the madrassa with a Predator drone, in an attempt to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri. So now the rioters can resume business as usual, and burn the American flag.

The village of Chingai is in the Bajaur district, hard on the border with Afghanistan. It is not far from Damadola, which, as you may remember, was the scene of another attempted whack-job on Zawahiri back in January. In fact, today’s raid would be a reprise of the Damadola operation except for the fact that Pakistan got angry at us back then for blowing people up in Bajaur.

So what’s different this time? Why is Pakistan falling all over itself to claim credit for an attempted hit on Zarqawi by the United States?

Maybe it has something to do with this, also from the Times Online report:

The attack came two days after 5,000 pro-Taleban militants gathered in Bajaur for an anti-American rally, in which they proclaimed their support for Osama bin Laden and vowed to continue holy war to enforce Islamic law.

It also came on the day a peace deal was expected to be signed between the military and tribal leaders in the region, along the lines of an agreement signed earlier this year in nearby North Waziristan which was aimed at stopping militants operating in the area and crossing into Afghanistan.

But the army insisted it had given warning to the leaders of the madrassa to close the school, and that militants could not hide behind peace deals. [emphasis added]

So Musharraf was about to sign another peace deal, but then he goes and scuttles it by putting a thumb in the Taliban’s eye. Why?

Could it be that he wants to demonstrate that his power is not as vestigial as some people would like to believe? In the discussion about the Waziristan deal, I speculated that Musharraf might have gotten more than it appeared in return for promising to go easy on Mullah Omar’s buddies in Waziristan.

Did he perhaps get permission to hit certain locations in Bajaur, in return for going easy on the “one-eyed spiritual leader” of the Taliban? Did Mullah Omar sell Zawahiri down the river?

I certainly don’t know the answers to these questions, but the situation in Pakistan is definitely getting curiouser and curiouser by the day. In the comments to my Waziristan post I got into a discussion with Snouck, who said this:

Musharraf is caught between the USA and the Jihadist coalition. Initially he sided with the Americans. After attacking Jihadist forces in the border area — in order to bring the order of the central government there — met with defeat, Musharraf realised that the Jihadist were stronger and will be longer around than the US. So he had to make a new deal with the Jihadists and their tribal hosts.

Musharraf has very little he can offer the Jihadists. They are not afraid of him or the USA. The only thing they want from him is FACE.

The content of the deal was irrelevant. Life on the ground in Waziristan will go on like it used to. But Musharraf’s negotiators had to come to Waziristan to be humiliated. To make visible to the people in Pakistan and the Islamic world who is the biggest guy on the border.

Even if Pervez was humiliated in Waziristan (and I’m not so sure he was), he’s not being humiliated in Bajaur. It will be interesting to see how the Taliban’s buddies in the tribal areas respond to all of this.

Snouck, if you’re lurking, I’d be interested to hear your opinion.

Hat tip for the ABC story: LGF.


Douglas V. Gibbs said...

Won't see this reported by the MSM. It supports the fact that Muslims are violent. The MSM would not want to allow that to be known. . . they think that WE are the terrorists. . . love the site.

Indigo Red said...

Times Online, ABC News - sounds fairly MSM to me. I read the story at MSNBC which is not so far from MSM.

This all could be something quite uncomplicated. The old trick of luring one's enemies to a common setting offering the hope of surrender, capitulation, ransom, peace, etc, then attacking and killing them is, well, an old trick.

Getting 80 Qaida and other terror guys together and killing them was not a bad deal. Too bad Zawahiri didn't show-up to the party as expected. That was just plain rude. He RSVP'd.

Baron Bodissey said...

Flawed Skull --

Don't give yourself airs; you didn't burst any of my bubbles. I'm under no illusions about the general nature of Pakistan and its many madrassas.

This post is about Musharraf's power politics, not about any hope that Pakistan has changed its ways.

Something has changed in the political calculus since January. That's what I'm trying to figure out.

What is "Occupation" said...

the attempts against musharraf have numerous to say the least.

without reading more into this than i wish too this could have been a signal to "back off" on musharraf, not the start of a war against the crazies.

either way, it's one less pocket of crap on the world

Snouck said...

Well, if I look at your excellent expose of events, in addition to the possibility you mention: that Musharraf ordered this helicopter strike in order to anull the forthcoming deal with the Tribal heads (vetted and approved by the Jihadist coalition) I immediately find two more possibilities.

One is that is that the helicopters attacked on instigation by US operatives.

Two is that the helicopters were serving other factions in the Pak military, possibly hostile to the Jihadists.

I do not know what this symbolic strike was meant to achieve. It is well possible what you say that Musharraf is trying to get out of giving further face to the Tribal heads and their Jihadist guests.

Musharraf’s position is thankless and in the long run unsustainable.

Next to the humiliation of the central government of Pak by sending emissaries to the Tribal heads to attend ceremonies these events give enormous face to the Tribal heads and they enable the recruitment of Tribesmen into the Jihadist armies.

(I am going to digress below, skip it if you want to stay on topic)
Because light arms and simple artillery are so easily available the key to waging war these days is to control populations.

The Tribes have the control over the women, the women produce the young tribesmen, the young tribesmen join the madrassas controlled by the Jihadists. The Madrassas turn out the Jihadist warriors and equip them with arms. On topic: the reason why Musharrafs envoys must attend ceremonies in Tribal lands on the Afghan border is to facilitate recruitment of the Madrassas. Men fight for honour, for manliness.

Group after group of these warriors is send to attack the forces of the Ferengee (White men) in Islamic lands. The Jihadist finance, teach, train and equip. No matter how many we kill, the women keep turning out new babies. The cycle is repeated until the Ferengee get sick of the carnage and the hopelessness and go the way of the British and the Soviet Russians.

And then the Jihadists will move to the next trouble spot. These days that might just as likely be a suburb in Sweden, The Netherlands, France or the USA. Their offensives evade the defenses of Western States with laughable ease, just as long as they enter in civilian garb and without arms.

Westerners have a picture in their heads about what war looks like and what it is fought for, this picture causes a disconnect from the reality of Islamic expansion. Because there are Western forces in the Middle East with planes and tanks, does not mean we are waging offensives in a meaningful way.

In conclusion: the Tribes and families control the biological generation of fighters, while the Mosques and Madrassas control the cultural generation of warriors. Musharraf's attack was well chosen for its symbolism.

Vol-in-Law said...

Just to say I think Snouck is 100% correct. See Lind's recent "strategic counter-offensive" piece:

Unless the West can somehow gain control of our borders and our heartlands within the next few years I fear our strategic situation may become inevitable - essentially a global civilisational collapse. There will doubtless still be remnants of Western civilisation a century from now, but it may look like much the Mediterranean after the fall of Rome.

Baron Bodissey said...

Snouck --

Thanks for the response. I think you've described the mess we're in fairly well.

I've always wondered how Musharraf has survived as long as he has.

lumberjack said...

One reason to think the US did the deed: It looks like the compound was blown-up real good... and.. the media identified the dead as "students"

When I heard the first reports, I expected to see images of dead 5th graders, stuffed toys burned, pencils and protractors strewn about the place.

OMMAG said...

There are all just civilians and students until they have a bomb strapped to them or engage in an assault of some kind.

I thought from the beginning of the Musharaf deal with the tribal regions that it could be a ploy.
It still looks like a ploy...only perhaps an effective one.

When you come right down to it the strategy of modern warfare now seems to be somewhat classical. In the new environment it is not sufficient especially when dealing with insurgent groups. Get used to down and dirty because that's what it takes on a rat hunt.

Baron Bodissey said...

Flawed skull --

Thanks for the links.You're right about Acorn -- it's very interesting indeed. And I looked at News Insight to see what they had to say about India's policy towards China. Lots of detail in there on that one...

Snouck said...

We debate Waziristan because of its function as a base area and sanctuary for the Jihadists.

It is said that the superior general wins the battle through his selection of the battlefield.

When the US invaded Afganistan and Iraq in reaction to the WTC attack they expected these societies to receive them with open arms and join them in the fight against the Jihadists.

That would have been the best possible outcome of those invasions. The US planners failed to prepare for all other possibilities.

And now the US-coalition has to fight in Iraq's urban environments or in the hills and mountains of Afganistan, the graveyard of armies.

The choice of the Jihadists to meet the US army on these cluttered, dirty battlefields shows good generalship. The battlefields are not conductive to the western strength in electronic sensor datagathering and leadership of large mobile formations. The West also does not know how to deal with the cultural environment. So this looks like a lost battle.

On the other hand, the Muslims in the West are in our natural and cultural environments.

We should be able to defeat them easily. As long as many Westerners are cowed by governments and media to oppose the Islamic offensive, the Jihadist onslaught will continue.

Once the alliance between the state and the Muslims is broken, it will be relatively easy to remove the Muslims from the West.

The meeting of strength between patriotic Westerners and their governments is the big, difficult fight. Especially because the other side sees itself as a force of Good, fighting Evil.

As soon as that fight is over it will be relatively downhill. Muslims are not good at organising themselves and they tend to fracture a lot, as a result of their tribal marriage patterns. The pro-western forces do not haveto be in the majority in order to win.

If the time before the rollback begins is long there will be a lot of damage done of course. But that is no reason to despair.

Yorkshireminer said...

Thanks for the response. I think you've described the mess we're in fairly well.

I've always wondered how Musharraf has survived as long as he has.

Dear Baron,
The answer is quiet simple he has got more guns, is just as bloody ruthless, he never did have any ruth what ever that was, and he gets a nice subside from Uncle Sam to buy more if he wants them. We don't want those nasty Jihads getting hold of Atomic weapons do we.