View Full Version : The coming (postponed) Afghan civil war

07-27-2012, 11:36 PM
A long article in the New Yorker magazine by Dexter Filkins, which I have just discovered and not fully absorbed yet.

I usually like this expert's views:
Antonio Giustozzi believes that the moment of maximum danger will come after 2014, when the Americans have all but certainly withdrawn the last of their combat forces. At that point, the Taliban will likely begin to make substantial territorial gains, particularly in remote areas. When that happens, parts of the Afghan Army—particularly its Pashtun segments—could dissolve.

“I think we lose maybe a quarter or a third of the Army—people will run away..If the soldiers see a civil war coming, or big Taliban gains on the battlefield, then I think the Army will lose most of the Pashtun troops. The troops would probably think they are on the wrong side of the divide. The only thing that could really stop a civil war is a strong Afghan Army.”

Maybe I'm quibbling, what Pashtun segments? I've seen nothing to suggest the Pashtun make up a significant part of the ANA.

There is much to take in here:http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/07/09/120709fa_fact_filkins?currentPage=all

There is a shorter piece by Ryan Evans:http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/07/26/the_once_and_future_civil_war_in_afghanistan

That too has a passage that makes one ponder, now this is proposed:
The trouble is, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has not been systemically mapping these factional conflicts down to the local level and incorporating this information into their planning. ISAF, the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, and the US Embassy in Kabul should create a large and mobile cell of officers, diplomats, aid officials, analysts. This cell would be tasked with traveling around Afghanistan and achieving a granular understanding of the local conflicts that are driving the war and threaten to tear the ANSF and the country apart.

07-28-2012, 05:58 AM
Isn't it reasonable to expect ANA commanders and/or governors and Mayor of Kabul to turn into warlords who fight largely united as long as the external threat (Taliban) persists and proceed to learn who's the strongest afterwards?

07-28-2012, 01:56 PM
Reading this reminds me of the history of Hawaii prior to King Kamehameha

Kunduz Province is divided into fiefdoms, each controlled by one of the new militias. In Khanabad district alone, I counted nine armed groups. Omar’s is among the biggest; another is led by a rival, on the northern bank of the Khanabad River, named Mir Alam. Like Omar, Alam was a commander during the civil war. He was a member of Jamiat-e-Islami. Alam and his men, who declined to speak to me, are said to be paid by the Afghan government.

As in the nineties, the militias around Kunduz have begun fighting each other for territory. They also steal, tax, and rape. “I have to give ten per cent of my crops to Mir Alam’s men,” a villager named Mohammad Omar said. (He is unrelated to the militia commander.) “That is the only tax I pay. The government is not strong enough to collect taxes.” When I accompanied the warlord Omar to Jannat Bagh, one of the villages under his control, his fighters told me that Mir Alam’s men were just a few hundred yards away. “We fight them whenever they try to move into our village,” one of Omar’s men said.

Perhaps what they really need is a warrior monarchy.

07-28-2012, 05:32 PM
Perhaps reality is that afghanistan, because of its ethnically diverse population and its terrain that is barely habitable and currently has not real potential for economic development capable of producing a sufficient economic excess to allow for sustaining a central government, cannot be unified without religion as the common tie.

11-13-2012, 06:44 PM
A not unexpected development, although in Herat - which IIRC is somewhat safer than most places:
One of the most powerful mujahedeen commanders in Afghanistan, Ismail Khan, is calling on his followers to reorganize and defend the country against the Taliban as Western militaries withdraw, in a public demonstration of faltering confidence in the national government and the Western-built Afghan National Army.


The report repeats earlier reports, but I cannot recall posting similar on SWC.

11-13-2012, 07:52 PM
I think it is also significant that the piece notes that Fahim said something similar back in September. Based on my experience in Bamian Province in 2002-2003, Fahim had some level of influence if not control over ethnic Tajiks who had very close ties to the Taliban and were under the protection of a local Northern Alliance commander--Ramatullah. These individuals are very likely tied to the increasing violence in Bamian and I would be very surprised if the Hazara are not arming in anticipation of a post-2014 renewal of Tajik/Hazara/Pashtun fighting along the frontiers of Hazarajat. Given Kabul's weak response to violent Kuchi incursions in Wardak they probably have little faith they'll have a friend in the Government if militias start rearming and operating openly.

11-13-2012, 08:24 PM

I figure the Iranians are quite heavily involved in this but I read India just opened a supply line through Iran to western Afghanistan. Do you think India will get more involved than in the past?

11-14-2012, 04:25 AM
The coming (postponed) Afghan civil war

IMO the civil war was never postponed. It's still going today and it will continue when we leave.

11-14-2012, 07:52 PM
I think there is a good deal of truth in the idea that the civil war never fully ended.

I don't know what role India may have. Pakistan is certainly concerned about their level of activity in AFG and Karzai seems to use this at times to roil PAK.

I suspect Iran is not as active as they would like to be. There is a good deal of residual good will towards Iran among the Hazara for Iran's support during the Taliban era and the Soviet War. However, the Khalili pretty quickly distanced himself and his party from Iran after the fall of the Taliban government. He shut down the Iranian Consulate in Bamian and it was turned over to NDS. I am not sure what sort of ties Akbari may have maintained or cultivated.