I spent some time going through New America’s website and realized that in addition to Fishman’s piece, they unleashed a tsunami of brilliant work this week on militancy in Pakistan.
Go here to their main page to view all the articles: http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/the_battle_for_pakistan
While all the pieces look strong, I’ll specifically draw your attention to the masterfully crafted article entitled, Al-Qaeda’s Allies, by Anne Stenersen. Although I’ve never met Anne in person, I’m a huge fan of her work. She’s at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and consistently produces top-tier analysis. Between her, Hegghammer, Lia, Nesser, Tonnessen and Rogan, among others, the Norwegians (and don’t forget Stephane Lacroix) have come to dominate the field jihadi-salafi studies. They have raised the bar for what it means to do good work on jihadi studies to a dauntingly high level. It’s become the gold standard in my opinion so I encourage you to read their work. Also, a big kudos to Peter Bergen for orchestrating this symphony of scholarship. What a boon to our community to have this much good analysis on such an opaque world come out at such a critical time.
Here’s video from the joint Foreign Policy and New America unveiling:
Brian Fishman over at the New America Foundation just put out a new piece that I highly encourage you to read covering militant groups operating in the NWFP and FATA.
The paper has five sections. The first addresses the cross-cutting background issues that shape militancy in the region. The second analyses the importance of Mullah Omar, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qaeda, and drone strikes in the FATA. The third addresses the idioms and concepts used to understand the militant actors in the FATA. The fourth summarizes militancy in each FATA agency and Swat. The fifth is a brief conclusion.
The universe of militants in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) is far more diverse than commonly understood. Although there are important ideological and historical commonalities among the fighters, militant groups have very different backgrounds, tribal affiliations, and strategic concepts.