It is a curious coincidence, at the very least, that just as al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban are both apparently feeling the heat, America’s hands are tied on drone strikes. “Al-Qaida, Taliban seek Pakistani militants’ help,” by Ishtiaq Mahsud and Sebastian Abbott for the Associated Press, January 2:
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — Prominent al-Qaida and Afghan Taliban fighters asked Pakistani militants in a pair of rare meetings to set aside their differences and step up support for the battle against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, militant commanders said Monday.
The meetings were held in Pakistan’s tribal region in November and December at the request of the Afghan Taliban’s leadership council. They could indicate the militants are struggling in Afghanistan, or conversely, that they want to make sure they hit U.S. forces hard as the Americans accelerate their withdrawal this year. That could give the Taliban additional leverage in any peace negotiations.
“For God’s sake, forget all your differences and give us fighters to boost the battle against America in Afghanistan,” senior al-Qaida commander Abu Yahya al-Libi told Pakistani fighters at a meeting on Dec. 11, according to a militant who attended.
Pakistani militants have long been split over where they should focus their fighting. The Pakistani Taliban have concentrated on toppling their own government, although they have sent some fighters to Afghanistan. Other Pakistani groups based in the tribal region have almost exclusively directed their attacks against foreign forces in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella organization set up in 2007 to represent roughly 40 insurgent groups, has also been split by infighting over turf and leadership positions after commanders were killed by the Pakistani military and U.S. drone strikes.
The group has fractured into more than 100 smaller factions, a process that some analysts have suggested would take a toll on militants fighting in Afghanistan by making it increasingly difficult for them to find recruits, as well as restricting territory in Pakistan available to them.Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud attended the two meetings on Nov. 27 in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, and Dec. 11 in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told The Associated Press….