What the Andar Uprising Is and Is Not

by Sekundar on 10/6/2012

I would’ve liked to get to this sooner, but the fantastic, first-of-hopefully-many Registan conference was occupying my time. During the conference, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by the Kagans on the Andar “Uprising” (which I think could be more correctly termed “the Andar-settling-of-scores-by-and-large-unrelated-to-ISAF-or-the-Karzai-government”) as an indicator of success. Despite returning to focus on Iraq for a while (I had no idea that the ultimate failure of the American attempt to create a beacon-of-democratic-freedom, Mayberry-on-the-Tigris was Obama’s) the Kagans have stepped back into the Afghanistan-policy arena, blathering about winning, the path to victory, and plucky Afghans willing to take on the Taliban if only the 90,000 U.S. soldiers, together with their ISAF partners, would stick around longer than the politicians (and, let’s be honest, most of their voters) will let them. This is sadly similar to what they said over a year ago. And two years ago. And so on…

The Andar Awakening (and it has been called that at ISAF behind closed doors) is not an awakening, or an uprising against the strict interpretations of Islam promoted by the Taliban. It was former HiG personnel, and assorted others, pushing back against other local powerbrokers, who identified with the Taliban. Similar outbreaks of violence take place across Afghanistan on a regular basis; it’s the continuation of local politics by other means. It also hasn’t bloomed into a regional/national movement since, oh, the mid-90′s. Two things that can be drawn from the incidents in Ghazni are that 1) GIRoA/ISAF did not control the area if the Taliban was described as in charge, which can probably be said for most of Pashtun Afghanistan, and 2) If, in fact, the violence was directed at the Taliban and not certain unwanted individuals who were Taliban, it indicates anecdotally that rural Pashtuns there are not interested in any non-local governance, be it from Kabul or Quetta. That means that the violence in Andar is not good for GIRoA/ISAF either.

Carl Prine, last winter, really not holding back, described the Kagans as “…dynamic duo of DC dipsh***tery … a double-shot of intellectual cancer designed apparently to make anyone who reads their historically-challenged agitprop dumber by the word.”  This most recent editorial of theirs avoided gems like “The outcome of this [Afghanistan] policy would be far worse than Nixon’s decision to accept defeat in Vietnam…” (June 2011), but it’s still poorly reasoned and argued, and based on flimsy, third-hand evidence. Hopefully this piece, like their previous ones, will have no influence.


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– author of 24 posts on Registan.net.

Sekundar works in national security, and has worked and studied in Central and South Asia.

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