The Pakistani Taliban have built themselves a Syrian base. Their arrival in the war-torn country is stoking the fragmentation of the Syrian rebel movement.
A senior figure, Mohamed Amin, told the BBC’s Urdu Service Monday July 15 that the new base will aid Arab allies in the war against the Assad regime.
“Taliban military experts have been sent to Syria lately to study the situation for Taliban’s participation in a war against the Syrian government,” Amin explained. First, they would assess what was needed for this war and for launching joint operations with their allies in Syria, he said.
The allies he referred to are no doubt likeminded Islamist militias, such as – although not necessarily – Al Qaeda groups.
In the view of some Pakistani analysts, the insurgents were driven to search for new bases for their expanding operations by being hounded from pillar to post by the Pakistani army. The Pakistani Taliban had previously taken part in conflicts in Kashmir, Central Asia, Afghanistan’s Baghlan region and Bosnia’s war in the Balkans.
DEBKA Weekly's counterterrorism sources put forward another theory which is current in Saudi and Jordanian intelligence circles. They believe that US and British security services, among others, are encouraging hard-core Taliban fighters to depart Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Barack Obama is thinking of bringing forward the exit of US forces from Afghanistan before the scheduled late 2014 timeline. His “zero option” means that not a single US soldier will be left in the country by the start of next summer.
It also means that the Taliban of Pakistan will have lost its most important adversary.
Taliban’s arrival accelerates suicidal Syrian rebel infighting
Ever since the mid-1990s, the oil tycoons of the Emirates have spent freely to foster al Qaeda and other Islamist activists. They are now offering volunteers for the war in Syria a grant of $5,000 each and a monthly wage of $1,500, to be paid out to a fighter’s family if he is killed or wounded.
Our sources report that the offer was taken up by Taliban officers, who flew in to Syria from different Central Asian capitals and prepared the new base for the incoming recruits.
Taliban intelligence officers arrived next and cast their net among various Islamist militias to enlist spies and terrorist pros for intelligence-gathering and operations.
The Taliban’s appearance on the battlefield accelerated the Syrian war’s most recent turn in northern Syria, mainly around Syria’s largest city, Aleppo. Whereas, the uprising’s original goal was to topple the Assad regime in Damascus, it is now metamorphosing into the suicidal "Second Civil War.” The anti-Assad insurgency is being torn apart by militia rivalries, with Al Qaeda affiliates and the Taliban at the forefront of action.
Government forces, having gained the upper hand in most of the country’s main cities, are standing by as their work is done for them.
The military strategists running the Assad government’s war on the revolt, most of them Russian, Iranian or Hizballah officers, are watching the rebel militias exhaust their strength by rival combat and waiting for them to grow weak enough to be knocked over with very little effort.
Rebels trapped in four battles, refugees on Rwanda genocide scale
The government offensive for recovering Aleppo has therefore been pared down to a small-scale operation. Why waste fighters and ammo on a major battle when the rebels are killing each other and doing Assad’s work for him?
Our military sources find rebel forces in the Aleppo and Idlib sectors engaged in at least four separate battles:
1. The Free Syrian Army and the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front are competing for fiefdoms;
2. Various jihadi groups are fighting each other to capture the leadership of their movement;
3. FSA sub-groups are at each other’s throats for control of the militia and command positions;
4. Syrian troops are taking the opportunity to strike at the rebels’ weak flanks.
Government forces have reduced their engagements with rebel fighters to local forays instead of the large-scale Syrian army-Hizballah offensive which captured Al Qusayr exactly three months ago.
But the savagery and the carnage are unrelenting, as illustrated by another disastrous report and appeal for international intervention issued on Tuesday, July 16 by the UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonvic.
An estimated 5,000 Syrians are dying every month in the country’s civil war – an extremely high rate of killings that demonstrates a drastic deterioration, said the UN official. Two-thirds of the nearly 1.8 million refugees have fled this year alone, an average of 6,000 a day. “We have not seen a refugee problem on this frightening scale since the 1994 Rwanda genocide” he said.
Increasing Taliban and al Qaeda potency
The spillover threat hanging over Syria’s immediate neighbors, especially Israel and Turkey, has acquired a new and disquieting component: The possible presence on their borders of fanatical Taliban fighters, who are highly seasoned in guerrilla warfare and experts in melting across fortified frontiers, has deepened concerns in Jerusalem and Ankara. Neither the Israeli Defense Forces nor the Turkish military are trained to deal with this class of enemy, or ever imagined they would be confronted with the kind war experienced by US forces in Afghanistan.
Senior Western commanders of the war on terror in the Middle East say that, given the crazy fluctuations of the Syrian war, they would not be surprised if somewhere down the road, they saw US drones in action over Syria – not against Assad’s army but the Taliban and al Qaeda, who are establishing an increasingly potent presence in Syria’s Second Civil War.