RIFT EMERGES IN TALIBAN LEADERSHIP
Mullah Mansur Dadullah was relieved of his command for “defiance” of the Taliban leadership in a December 20 statement from Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Umar. Mullah Mansur Dadullah is the brother of the late Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, and succeeded him when the latter was killed by a NATO Special Forces raid in May 2007, though he did not have unanimous support from other Taliban commanders.
Mullah Mansur described his reported expulsion as nothing more than “enemy propaganda” designed to “harm the Taliban movement” (Dawn [Karachi], January 10). While denying the legitimacy of these orders, the mullah has also expressed his continuing loyalty to the Taliban leader: “If Mullah Muhammad Umar truly dismisses me or summons me for execution, I will not defy him” (Afghan Islamic Press, December 30, 2007).
Dadullah admitted that “it was because of al-Qaeda that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” had been driven from power, but denied suggestions that his close relations with al-Qaeda had brought him into disfavor with the rest of the Taliban leadership: “There is no doubt that I love al-Qaeda. We maintain close contacts with them and we exchange information.” Dadullah claims to meet frequently with Mustafa Abu Yazid, the Egyptian commander of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (Dawn, January 10). The mullah acknowledges that “some Taliban want to dissociate themselves from [al-Qaeda]” (AIP, December 30, 2007).
There are other reports that the real reason for Dadullah’s disfavor is the negotiations he is alleged to have conducted with two British nationals, Mervyn Patterson of the UN and Michael Semple of the EU. Both were expelled from Afghanistan on the orders of the Hamid Karzai government for conducting secret talks with the Taliban commander in Helmand (Tolo TV [Afghanistan], December 30, 2007). The two were also accused of supplying Mullah Mansur Dadullah with cash, computers and sophisticated communications equipment (Hasht-e Sobh, January 5).
ISRAELI UAVS DEPLOYED AGAINST PKK IN NORTHERN IRAQ
After years of supplying military training and equipment to the Kurds of Iraq, Israel is now supplying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with Israeli operators to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for surveillance work against Kurdish PKK rebels based in northern Iraq.
There is strong dissatisfaction within the TSK with the failure of state-run Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems to meet the delivery deadline of October 2007, with delivery now pushed back to spring 2008. A malfunctioning camera system produced by a Turkish subcontractor has been blamed for the delay (CP, December 27, 2007). To mollify the TSK, the Israelis offered to lease IAI Heron UAVs together with Israeli operating crews for a twelve-month period at a cost of $10 million (Haaretz, December 27, 2007). Elbit Systems also makes the smaller Skylark UAV, currently used by Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Israeli firms beat out U.S. and French competition to supply 20-30 UAVs in a contract worth nearly $200 million.
The Heron TP (known as the “Eitan” by the Israeli Air Force) is described as a “medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV,” capable of carrying out a variety of operational missions while staying in the air for several days at a time. The aircraft is 46 feet long, weighs five tons and can carry an additional half-ton of sensors in its forward section. A single Canadian-made 1,200 horsepower Pratt & Whitney turbo-prop engine allows the craft to fly at altitudes over 40,000 feet. Video of the Heron in flight can be seen at: .
The leased Herons will operate out of Batman air force base near the Iraqi border, together with Turkey’s last remaining I-Gnat UAVs, purchased in the 1990s (Turkish Daily News, December 27, 2007). Turkish efforts to develop their own UAVs are believed to still be several years away from completion. <iframe src=’https://www.jamestown.org/jamestown.org/inner_menu.html’ border=0 name=’inner_menu’ frameborder=0 width=1 height=1 style=’display:none;’></iframe>