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The Consequences of Taliban Second-in-Command’s Arrest

February 16, 2010

I’ve long felt that I should read more about Afghanistan (and Pakistan, as they are pieces of the same puzzle), both because the US currently has more than 100,000 troops deployed there and because it has always seemed to me that the region should of interesting stories. For just as long, I’ve been stymied by promising but ultimately impenetrable articles that ended up being unreadable, uninteresting, or both.

The recent arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, first reported by the New York Times, may prove to be a turning point in my long slog towards becoming knowledgeable about AfPak, as it lead me to The AfPak Channel, a group blog/joint project between Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation. There, I learned of Baradar’s history rising through the Taliban’s ranks, the potentially destabilizing effects of the arrest and the questionable justification for the highly publicized US offensive in Marja. The posts are generally interesting, well-written and pleasantly short (though not bit-sized).

In spite of the welcome skepticism the writer’s bring to the subject, they all note that Baradar’s arrest is very significant. The more significant turning point, then, could be in our efforts/long slog to erect a passable governmental structure in the country. Baradar is apparently in control of the day-to-day operations of the Taliban while the only man above him, Mullah Muhammad Omar, is the spiritual and inspirational leader of the organization (I’m not sure if it would be fair to think of Jim and Michael from The Office during the co-managing period). Also, the arrest could be evidence of a stronger commitment on the part of the Pakistani military to assist coalition forces in their battle against the Taliban.

Final bonus: most of the posts are headed by wonderful pictures like the one in their header which I’ve featured above.

Update: A more general overview of the arrest from Shadow Government, another Foreign Policy blog.

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