After the recent drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan, or TTP) initially refuted claims that their number two commander and chief military strategist, Wali ur-Rehman, had been killed. The TTP have since admitted that Rehman was indeed killed in the strike, and cite that strike as the reason for refusing to attend the scheduled peace talks with the Pakistani government.
The Taliban’s spokesman blamed Pakistan’s civilian government for failing to put a stop to the CIA-run strikes:
“We announce an end to our peace overtures because we believe that the Pakistani government is equally involved in the drone attack,”
It has always been reasonably clear that the talks were not going to lead to much anyway, and it is likely that this simply presented the Taliban an excuse to pull out while appearing to take the high road. However, reports indicate that if anyone in the Pakistani Taliban was open to serious peace talks, it was probably Rehman.
Some here at home have also criticized the strike, since they see it as a breach of President Obama’s newly announced changes in our drone policy, first because it was run by the CIA rather than the DoD, and second because there is no indication that Rehman posed an imminent threat of the type Obama’s new policy would require for targeted killing. However, according to Foreign Policy’s Situation Report, the adoption of the new rules is not a simple matter of flipping a switch somewhere in the Oval Office:
“there is no timeline when it comes to migrating drone operations to the DOD. ‘You don’t move it overnight,” said the former senior official.’ “
Paul W. Taylor, Senior Fellow
Center for Policy & Research