"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Uprising against Taliban spreads in Pakistan's tribal region

From eNews 2.0.

Pressed by military and partly disgusted by brutality exercised by Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, Pakistani tribesmen are rising up against Islamic militancy in some parts of the tribal region along Afghan border and other areas.

Three ethnic Pashtun tribes in Bajaur district - the Salarzai, Tarkhani and Utmankhel - raised a "Lashkar," or private army, of around 10,000 tribesmen to drive Taliban out of their area, after weeks of fierce fighting between security forces and militants resulted in heavy civilian casualties and property losses.

"We have been told very clearly by the authorities that the only way to avoid collateral damage is that we clear our areas of Taliban and bring stability here," said tribal elder Fazal Karim, who leads the Lashkar.

Why are the tribes beginning to go against Al Qaeda/the Taliban?

Around 3.5 million tribal people practice a form of Islam that is integrated with an archaic moral code of conduct and honour, very similar to the one described in ancient Greek Homeric poems and Icelandic Kings' sagas, where warriors are hailed as heroes.

On the other hand, Taliban ideology is based on a reductionist version of Islam stripped of secular Pashtun cultural content. It undermined the traditional tribal structure when enforced, and led to resentment among the locals who had provided shelter to hundreds, if not thousands, Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives following US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Taliban executions, extreme torture, opposition to social and economic development projects and girls' education further deepened the split and banded together people in some areas for an indigenous armed resistance.

"What these gangs of thugs and criminals brought in the name of Islam is barbarism," said Karim, whose fighters have cleared around 90 per cent of Salarzai sub-district of Bajaur.

Al Qaeda/the Taliban disenfranchise people wherever they go due to their harse interpretation of Islam. The war against Al Qaeda/the Taliban is not a "US war" as is often quoted from Pakistani people. It is a war of freedom. It is a war of liberty.

For a full read, click here.

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How to smooth the transition in Iraq

Written by John Nagl and Adam Scher for the Christian Sciency Monitor.

Mahmoudiya, a town south of Baghdad, was part of the area long known as the "Triangle of Death" because of the extraordinary number of Sunni insurgent attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi civilians it suffered – often half a dozen daily in 2006. Today, with violence down to only a few ineffective attacks in any given week, it has earned the moniker "Triangle of Love."

The progress there is due in part to the new US strategy. It involved living among the local population to break the hold of the insurgents and now focuses more on partnering and empowering local Iraqi forces than depending on US troops to target and capture enemies.

This switch in Mahmoudiya has spurred economic growth in the area and sheds light on how to manage a drawdown of US forces without sacrificing the hard-won security gains of the past 18 months.

It's clear that the ultimate success of our counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq requires not just a reduction in all types of enemy activity, but also an increase in the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces and the local governing councils.

This is a great, concise article about our way ahead in Iraq.

While I agree with Mr. Nagl for the most part, the part not talked about is the involvement of Iran in Iraqi internal affairs. It is this involvement that keeps a larger American presence in Iraq now than what would otherwise be needed.

For a full read, click here.

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