Pak militants sack top member

Updated 11 July 2013
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Pak militants sack top member

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan-based Taleban sacked their spokesman yesterday for making remarks that angered their Afghan allies, in a move highlighting efforts to patch up divisions within the increasingly fractured insurgency.
Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP), formed in 2007, is an umbrella group uniting various militant factions operating in Pakistan’s volatile northwestern tribal areas along the porous border with Afghanistan.
Any further divisions within the movement are likely to weaken the Afghan Taleban’s fight against Western forces there, making it more difficult to recruit young fighters and disrupting safe havens in Pakistan used by Afghan militants.
The Pakistani Taleban announced the dismissal of Ehsanullah Ehsan — an outspoken and prominent figure close to TTP’s top brass — in a pamphlet distributed by militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region on the Afghan border.
“He has made comments that have raised the danger of divisions between the Pakistani Taleban and the Afghan Taleban,” the pamphlet said.
“The Taleban are our foundation and Afghan Taleban leader Mullah Omar is our supreme leader. That is why, from today, Ehsanullah Ehsan is no longer our spokesman.”
One TTP commander told Reuters that the Afghan Taleban were incensed when Ehsan told a local newspaper that US-Taleban peace talks in Doha would have no effect on the TTP, suggesting that the two movements were “totally different.” “After Ehsan’s damaging statements, the Afghan Taleban asked us not to use their stationery or their flag,” he said by telephone from North Waziristan. “This is unacceptable for us.”
Ehsan was replaced by Sheikh Maqbool, a man who is considered close to the Afghan Taleban and has spent much of his time since 2007 in Afghanistan.
But Ehsan’s sacking could also signal yet another chink in the armor of the Pakistani Taleban itself, which last month lost its second-in-command, Wali-ur-Rehman, in a US drone strike in North Waziristan, a militant stronghold.
The Pakistani movement has long struggled to formulate a unified set of goals, with some factions focusing on staging attacks against domestic military and civilian targets and others calling for deeper involvement in the Afghan cause.


NATO will show unity despite differences: Stoltenberg

Updated 39 min ago
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NATO will show unity despite differences: Stoltenberg

  • Stoltenberg said NATO hopes to start accession talks with Macedonia at the summit, which will be held in Brussels on July 11 and 12
  • The US leader has also complained that the transatlantic defense alliance is more useful for Europe than it is for the United States

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg voiced confidence Tuesday that Alliance members will demonstrate unity at a summit next month despite “important differences” between the United States and European members of the transatlantic Alliance. US President Donald Trump has called on fellow members to shoulder a bigger share of the NATO budget. The US leader has also complained that the transatlantic defense alliance is more useful for Europe than it is for the United States. However Stoltenberg remained decidedly upbeat on Tuesday, while acknowledging the differences. “I’m absolutely confident that the NATO summit will demonstrate the transatlantic unity, that Europe and the United States stand together despite important differences on important issues like trade, the Paris (climate) agreement or the Iran nuclear deal,” the NATO leader told the France 24 television channel. “I met president Donald Trump recently in the White House and he reconfirmed his strong personal commitment to NATO and he also recognized that European allies are investing more in defense.” Trump caused dismay in Europe during his presidential campaign when he said that NATO was “obsolete” and failing to meet the challenge posed by Daesh terror groups. “He has a strong message about the need to do more (on defense spending) and I agree with him and the European allies also agree with him,” said Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg also said NATO hopes to start accession talks with Macedonia at the summit, which will be held in Brussels on July 11 and 12, after the small Balkan nation reached a deal with Greece to be renamed the Republic of North Macedonia.