Three killed in Taliban infighting in South Waziristan

Dawn reports on a minor clash (in Taliban terms) between fighters allied with Mullah Nazir and forces loyal to Hakeemullah Mehsud:

According to local people, the clash between the Mullah Nazir group and the group of TTP leader Hakeemullah Mehsud resulted in the death of two supporters of Hakeemullah and one of Mullah Nazir.

Official sources said that a militant named Hafiz of the Hakeemullah group was wanted by the Nazir group because of his alleged involvement in the killing of seven supporters of Nazir group.

This is the first known clash between members of the two rival militant factions of South Waziristan in many years.

Interestingly enough, the clash took place in a region run by Nazir, who claimed to have ejected Hakeemullah’s followers months ago.

As Dawn notes, the rivalry between Nazir (from the Wazir tribe) and Hakeemullah (from the Mehsud tribe) has existed for years. While these groups have clashed in the past, the rivalry never prevented the two from closing ranks when required. Although Nazir did sign an agreement that ensured his forces wouldn’t attack the Pakistani Army as it attacked Hakeemullah’s forces, Nazir also allowed Hakeemullah’s men shelter in his tribal areas and provided logistical support to fighters battling the Pakistani Army (all in violation of the agreement of course).

Don’t expect the minor clash between Nazir and Hakeemullah’s followers to blow up into anything big, as many wrongly predicted in the past when Nazir’s followers clashed with the Islamic Jihad Group back in 2007, or with Baitullah Mehsud’s followers in 2008 over the presence of the IJG.

Keep in mind that Nazir is allowing more al Qaeda operatives to shelter in his tribal areas. Al Qaeda, the Haqqanis, and the Taliban have not allowed these local rivalries to blow up into something bigger, and there is no reason to think this latest clash will be handled any differently.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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