The Panic of Tribal Militias

by Joshua Foust on 12/1/2008

Alex Strick is on the same page of music as… well, most of us. He writes, from Kandahar:

There is no feeling that the central government in Kabul projects a legitimate source of authority down here either. The reputation of that government – and foreign powers by association – has been muddied over the past 7 years. The early years of US raids and night abductions in Kandahar are still not forgotten; massive and unfiltered corruption has permeated to all levels of the government, often working from top-down and bottom-up at the same time; involvement of these government figures in the drug business goes on at a very high level; the central authorities are too weak to implement their decisions (and are perceived as such), and the parliament functions only as a shadow of itself; there has been no media campaign of any sophistication or that is able to respond with the speed that the Taliban themselves have proved capable; there is a concomitant lack of visible signs of development money – and much vanished in submissions back to western countries anyway; and there has been an effective, sophisticated and prioritized Taliban information and media campaign noting all of the above…

The authors’ own incidental experience talking to people from all kinds of backgrounds in Kandahar also offers overwhelming evidence that people fear the return of the militias. “If the militia comes, they will do everything,” explained one friend. “They will rape my boys and my wife. There will be no more government. Now we have maybe thirty percent law in the city. With the militia there will be none. It will be the end.”

Luckily, that’s the plan right now coming from the Brits and Americans. Go us.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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