Monday, May 30, 2016

U.S. LONGEST WAR - Taliban's Top Mulla Dead!

"With killing of top mullah, what's next for the Taliban in Afghanistan?" PBS NewsHour 5/23/2016

COMMENT:  Yah, we are suppose to warn Pakistan about our attacks on the Taliban.  Just ignore the sympathy and support of some government officials, and some of their army.  Pakistan has a whole area/province where the Taliban rule and hide.  No, we are not about to warn the Taliban.


SUMMARY:  On Saturday, a U.S. drone strike killed Mullah Mansour, the leader of the Taliban and architect of the group's bloody reconquest of Afghanistan this past year.  Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on the killing, and Hari Sreenivasan talks to former Pakistani diplomat Riaz Mohammad Khan and former State Department official Barnett Rubin about what lies ahead for the Taliban.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The man who led the Afghan Taliban for the past year was killed in a U.S. operation over the weekend.  The group had been gaining ground and waging a bloody war against the Afghan government.

So, what's next for the Taliban, and the countries who fight it?

Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner begins our coverage.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  Smoldering wreckage on a Pakistani roadside was all that remained of the Taliban commander's vehicle hours after he died in it Saturday.

Today, in Vietnam, President Obama officially announced a U.S. drone strike killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  It has been confirmed that he is dead.  And he as an individual who, as head of the Taliban, was specifically targeting U.S. personnel and troops inside of Afghanistan.

MARGARET WARNER:  Mullah Mansour took over the Afghan Taliban last summer, after the group finally announced that longtime leader Mullah Omar had died in 2013.  The new leader faced down rivals, in part by rejecting Afghan- and U.S.-backed peace talks.

Under his direction, Taliban forces briefly seized the Northern Afghan city of Kunduz last September, and carried out a bloody assault in Kabul itself in April, killing 64.

Word of his death was welcomed by Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah:

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Chief Executive, Afghanistan (through interpreter):  He was in charge of all terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, and he had direct contact with other terrorist networks.  This will bring a big change in the Taliban condition.  His death is a blow to their abilities in carrying out terrorist attacks against the Afghan people.

MARGARET WARNER:  Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signaled that the Taliban leader's death could also open the door to renewed peace talks.  The drone strike that killed Mansour was the first by the U.S. inside Baluchistan, in Southwestern Pakistan.  It's long been a Taliban stronghold.

In London yesterday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack, saying the U.S. gave no advance warning.

NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister, Pakistan (through interpreter):  We are protesting strongly.  This is a violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan.

MARGARET WARNER:  But Afghanistan's government accuses the Pakistanis of harboring a veritable who's-who of most wanted terrorists.

GEN. DAWLAT WAZIRI, Spokesman, Afghan Defense Ministry (through interpreter): The Haqqani Network is in Pakistan.  Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden were in Pakistan, and now Mullah Mansour was killed in Pakistan's Baluchistan.  It would be better if Pakistan cooperated with Afghanistan and didn't give shelter to these people who are continuing the war in Afghanistan.

MARGARET WARNER:  Pakistani authorities say a passport found near the drone strike wreckage shows Mansour had just returned from Iran.  Officials there denied the claim.

Meanwhile, the already-fractured Taliban is scrambling to close ranks.  Senior leaders met today, and speculation over a successor centers on Mansour's deputy, Sirajuddin Haqqani, a warlord seen as even more brutal than Mansour.

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