I know that the mass media is concentrating on the firefight in Waziristan, where the Pakistani army has pinned down some 400 fighters, who are putting up fierce resistance. Although they are said to be al-Qaeda, I doubt it is known for sure who exactly they are. There is speculation that Ayman al-Zawahiri is among them. He is Bin Laden’s second in command and the leader of the radical al-Jihad al-Islami organization of Egypt.
It is suspicious to me that earlier this week the Bush administration recognized Pakistan as a “non-NATO ally” (it joins Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Bahrain in that category). Such allies have access to high-tech US weaponry. (The relationship does not, despite the word “ally,” involve any mutual defense pact, so apparently the arms deal is the most important aspect of it). Then as soon as the Pakistani army got what it has long wanted from the US, erasing the humiliation of never having received the F-16s it had earlier bought because of sanctions imposed by Congress over its nuclear weapons program–all of a sudden it has 200 fighters surrounded. One wonders if someone in the Pakistani military didn’t at least suspect they were there, but dragged his feet until a better deal was offered . . .
By the way, dear friends who have to speak on television about all this: It is al za-WA-hir-I .