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About Dr. Walid Phares
Dr. Walid Phares is the Director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy and the author of the War of Ideas. Dr. Phares was one of the architects of UNSCR 1559. He is also a Professor of Middle East Studies at Florida Atlantic University and a contributing expert to FOX News. Dr. Phares teaches Global Strategies at the National Defense University. He serves as the secretary general of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism. Professor Phares’ is the author of two critical books on the Islamofascist threat to Western Civilization, "Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West” and "The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy."
Past Articles
Early Assessment of the Elimination of Taliban Commander Mehsud
Australia: Down Under Jihad?
Nigerian Taliban: Oil & Caliphate in Africa
North Carolina: Meet Taqiyya Jihad.
US Should Encourage Democracy in Africa...
Africa’s Terror Threat Real
Obama Must Decry African Genocide
Iraqi Success Will Depend on the Next U.S. Strategy
Iran: The Uprising Is On and There’s No Turning Back
Iran’s Elections: A Nat'l Show to Delay Democracy
Cedars Revolution Defeats Hezbollah in Election
15 Hard Questions About the Cairo Speech
Arkansas' Lone Jihadist: How Alone Is He?
First Jihadi Cell of '09 Busted In the US
Countering Jihadi Strategies in the Sub-Continent
The Taliban 'AfPak' Strategy: A Jihadi Preemptive War
Jihadi Pirates on High Seas: What's Behind Them?
Britain's Double Vision of Hezbollah?
Syria's Strategy in Lebanon
The Myth of the Two Talibans
Iraq Withdrawal Can Only Work with Pressure on...
Love v. Jihadism: Valentine's Enflame the Middle East
President Obama's TV interview on al Arabiya
Iran's New Satellites: The Pasdaran in Space
Iraq’s Elections: The Way to the Future or...
Guantanamo’s Manipulators Leading the New Jihad
Middle East Challenges to the Obama Administration
Bin Laden: Gaza One of the Fronts of ‘World Jihad’
Bush Will Be Vindicated in the War on Terror
A Plan For Gaza: Demilitarization &...
Shadow of Iran Looms Large Over Gaza

Dr. Walid Phares
Early Assessment of the Elimination of Taliban Commander Mehsud
August 10, 2009

As reports are confirming the elimination of Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, including Pakistani sources to al Jazeera, a growing debate is widening in the international media about the "value" of that event. Some analyses are using terms such as "turning point," while other are describing it as "lethal hit against Pakistan's Taliban."

Evidently, authorities in Pakistan and the United States are logically rejoicing for the fact that a tough foe is gone. Intelligence estimates will soon tell how important what that successful drone and what would the field consequences be in the next weeks, months and maybe a year or two.

But it is important that the expert community help the public and decision makers in making a fair and accurate assessment of the event with the correct understanding of the value of the tactics employed on the Pakistan's front with the Taliban; but also one should suggest that no excesses should be projected in over estimating the impact on the "war." As the discussion is ongoing in the media and inside Government circles, following are eight points of assessment to be considered:

1. Tactically, the elimination of Baitullah Mehsud, as the direct commander of the Taliban terror networks is a real field victory for Pakistan's Government and, in perspective, a payback for the assassination of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Moreover, the vanishing of Mehsud can create conditions for progress of Pakistan's forces in south Waziristan, only for a short period of time and if Islamabad can mobilize enough popular support for the next stage of engagement against the Taliban.

2. It is also a victory to the global US intelligence and an indicator to current and future successful strikes via the technology employed by American deployment out of Afghanistan. It adds some deterrence to NATO presence in the region, but again, within limitations.

3. It will put some pressure on the Taliban and also on al Qaeda inside Pakistan, and psychological pressure on the Taliban inside Afghanistan

4. It could ease some past tensions between US and Pakistan military authorities regarding the use of missiles and drone attacks against Taliban, across the borders; but it will not transform the current discrete cooperation into a NATO like open collaboration.

However, on the other hand

a. We know almost for sure that the Taliban will select a new leader who will replace Mehsud. They may well select or add later a member of his own clan, family or entourage. The assessment will be made by the "war room" of the Jihadists in the region. In short, undoubtedly the Taliban campaign will continue.

b. Also one has to be ready that Taliban Pakistan, or their allies inside the country (and they have many) may try to assassinate important figures inside Pakistan, in retaliation.

d. Hence the elimination of Baitullah Mehsud is a tactical turning point that could be used to provoke more crumbling, but the window is very short.

e. Jihadi media and some al Jazeera commentators say his elimination will affect but not crumble the Taliban.

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