Monday, October 27, 2008

Missile Strike Kills Mullah Omar in Pakistan

News services around the world are reporting that the most recent drone-fired missile strike has killed 20 suspected militants in Pakistan's South Waziristan province.

The BBC is reporting that Mullah Omar, the premier figure in the Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan, is among the dead.

If true, the strike's significance is difficult to overstate. On the one hand, it is possible that the resurgent Taleban may be reeling, especially in the context of recent gains by the Pakistani military in Bajaur, in conjunction with rumors that the "Awakening" movement that has led to cooperation between coalition forces and conservative Sunnis in Iraq is being replicated in the tribal borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On the other hand, the strike -- sucessful or not -- would represent yet another violation of Pakistani Sovereignty despite our steady but obviously meaningless promises to respect their territorial integrity. It will certainly be argued that opportunities to hit targets such as Mullah Omar are too special to be missed.

All of these developments come at a critical juncture in the war with new government in Pakistan, elections looming in the U.S., corruption charges threatening Hamid Karzai's regime in Kabul, and NATO allies publicly divided over the future of the mission, with Europeans insisting on negotiation and American Presidential candidates uniformly promising some kind of military victory over the Taleban and Al Qaeda.

(Thank you to GlobalSecurity.org for the image of Mullah Omar)