Monday, February 15, 2010

Taliban's No. 2 Commander Captured

The NY Times has a long report on the recent (but just-revealed) capture of Mullah Baradar, described therein as the #2 Afghan Taliban commander, second only to Mullah Omar.  (Can anyone tell us, by the way, why almost every news story published about Mullah Omar insists om describing him as the "one-eyed mullah"?  Is the idea to scare us, by making him into some kind of cyclopean monster?)

ISAF and the Karzai government will tout this as a huge victory - and the NYT quotes former CIA official Bruce Riedel (who knew nothing of the capture before the NYT called him)  as saying that the raid that captured Baradar was a "sea change in Pakistani behavior," in that the Pakistanis had not made it a priority to go after Afghan Taliban, whom they saw as strategic assets in Pakistan's ongoing, seemingly existential struggle with India.  Riedel has a point.  On the other hand, the Taliban have been able to find new leaders pretty readily.

Time will tell as to whether this development indeed marks either a turning point in the fight against the Afghan Taliban, or a major shift in attitude by the Pakistanis.

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