Katherine Tiedemann is a program associate at the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program.
President Obama has shown his willingness to continue President Bush’s method for combating militancy on the Pakistani side of the Afghan/Pakistan border, ordering CIA-piloted QM-1 Predator drones to strike militant targets in Pakistan approximately once a week since he took office.
While releasing his newly-announced Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy review last Friday, Obama commented that, “Pakistan needs our help in going after al Qaeda….[and] we will insist that action be taken — one way or another — when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets in Pakistan.”
This morning’s airstrike in Pakistan’s Orakzai Agency marks a significant departure from President Obama’s previous policy of hunting extremists only inside Waziristan, Bajaur, and the NWFP.
While no Taliban or al Qaeda leaders were killed today, between ten and twelve militants died in the strike. It has also been rumored that the program might stretch into Baluchistan, another base of power for the Taliban in the country, but we’ve yet to see any strikes there.
The expansion of geographic targets and acceleration of the pace of the strikes indicates that Obama is deadly serious about eradicating the scourge of Taliban and al Qaeda militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Maybe, just maybe, coupling this military tactic with the increase in economic and development aid put forth in the strategy review will help create a safer, more stable region–probably not anytime soon, but someday.
(Photo credit: BBC)
— Katherine Tiedemann