Thursday, June 3, 2010

Taliban Get Stronger As Insurgents Resume Insurgency

Many insurgents, who had laid down arms following incentives from the government, have been rejoining insurgency. It is a matter of concern especially when these are adding to the power of the power of the Taliban.

Many insurgents who were lured by promises from the U.S. supported Afghan government have rejoined Taliban. This media report has come as a major setback to both; the Western countries fighting Taliban and rest of the world wishing a world free from perceived Taliban threat.

Seeing that foreign forces will start a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2011, it becomes more crucial. The World had expected much from U.S. when it invaded the country in 2001 to root out the regime of the fundamentalist Taliban. Now after a decade of combating the Afghans the US seems to have lost its bearings. The already strong Taliban are getting support from those Afghans who were once against them. It is well described in the Golden Surrender report released recently.

Seeing that foreign forces will start a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2011, it becomes more crucial. The World had expected much from U.S. when it invaded the country in 2001 to root out the regime of the fundamentalist Taliban. Now after a decade of combating the Afghans the US seems to have lost its bearings.


The analysis report is part of a broader research project on reintegration and negotiations supported by the United States Institute for Peace and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. It is based on more than 50 in depth interviews, mainly in or near Kabul and Kandahar, with officials, diplomats, politicians, analysts, civil society representatives, community, tribal, and religious leaders, 10 former senior Taliban officials (six former ministers and two ambassadors), seven insurgent field commanders (operating in Kandahar, Wardak, Ghazni, and Khost provinces), and one senior Taliban intermediary.

The report prepared by an independent Afghanistan Analyst Network features the government promises which were never fulfilled, civil casualties and personal enmities among the reasons that urged Afghans to rejoin the Taliban. The committed members of the Taliban had continued the fight against the US forces even though their numbers were dwindling initially. Now they have the upper hand.

One Taliban commander from Kandahar says that, “if we were fighting for money we would try to find work. At the moment our country is invaded, there is no true Sharia, there is crime and corruption. Can we accept these for money? How then could I call myself a Muslim and an Afghan?”

The report prepared by an independent Afghanistan Analyst Network features the government promises which were never fulfilled, civil casualties and personal enmities among the reasons that urged Afghans to rejoin the Taliban. The committed members of the Taliban had continued the fight against the US forces even though their numbers were dwindling initially. Now they have the upper hand.


Nevertheless, it is a fact that some low level tribal leaders had quit arms viewing economic stability and political portfolios which were promised by Afghan government. When they realized that government promises were only lip services they preferred to rejoin with whom they thought would be the future of country. It also led to “mistrust between insurgents and the government” and it is making the accomplishment of reintegration a difficult task.

The PTS southern region claimed that it had ‘reconciled’ some 646 fighters over the last five years, including 33 commanders. But several of these reportedly rejoined the insurgency, including a number of low to midlevel commanders. Now, they are active in Helmand (including Marja), Uruzgan, and Kandahar.

“Most of these commanders were inactive for 6–18 months, waiting for the PTS to deliver on its promises (and some reportedly concealed their move from their comrades). Once it became apparent that no support would be forthcoming, they rejoined the fight. If these eight commanders took some of their former foot soldiers with them, they may have rejoined the insurgency with over 100 men. These are the commanders whose activities officials are aware of: many more of the 33 southern commanders who reconciled since 2005 may have done likewise,” says the report.

Peace and Reconciliation Commission or PTS is one of the schemes started by Afghan government with full support of U.S. in the post-attack period which meant for providing incentives to the Afghans.

The PTS southern region claimed that it had ‘reconciled’ some 646 fighters over the last five years, including 33 commanders. But several of these reportedly rejoined the insurgency, including a number of low to midlevel commanders. Now, they are active in Helmand (including Marja), Uruzgan, and Kandahar.

Started in 2005 the aim of PTS was to reintegrate former insurgents by inducing them to desist from fighting. It claims to have reconciled over 5,000 insurgents. But according to some sources, during the five years only 464 insurgents, low profile commanders, have parted their way with the Taliban. The scheme suffered from “weak management, insufficient resources, and a lack of political wills.”

Likewise a 2003–2006 disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration process (DDR), implemented through the Afghan New Beginnings Program (ANBP) could not influence but some not-genuine ex combatants. And the ongoing Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups programme (DIAG), too, lacks “national and international resolve”, and community projects have been nonexistent, ineffective or ‘excruciatingly slow’. Otherwise it seeks to dismantle approximately 1,800 militias by offering projects to communities, usually school or clinic construction.

But according to some sources, during the five years only 464 insurgents, low profile commanders, have parted their way with the Taliban. The scheme suffered from “weak management, insufficient resources, and a lack of political wills.”


As mentioned earlier, these efforts bore some fruit as regards non-genuine insurgents. Even they rejoined insurgency after feeling that they were made fool by the government.

“Several of these have reportedly rejoined the insurgency, including a number of low to mid-level commanders who are currently active in Helmand…Uruzgan and Kandahar," says the report.

In the words of the former UN Special Representative Kai Eide the main cause behind consistent insurgency is that the presence of Western forces in Afghanistan makes them feel humiliated. “While it may not be difficult to buy a young man out of unemployment ,it is difficult to buy him out of his convictions, sense of humiliation or alienation from power,” he is quoted as saying.

On the other hand NATO is not going to surrender to the insurgency. It plans to spend more than $1 billion (£648 million) over the next five years tempting Taliban foot soldiers to lay down their arms.

According to the claim by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force)—NATO led security mission in Afghanistan—there are up to 36,000 anti government fighters and that the insurgency ‘can sustain itself indefinitely’. The increasing number of insurgent attacks, some 7,400 in 2009, is an indication of a high recruitment rate – especially given that ISAF claims to kill large numbers of insurgents each year.
Actually what is needed is to remove the feeling of insecurity from the minds of Afghans. One Taliban quoted in Golden Surrender reported as having said, “Why are you pouring millions of dollars into peace and reconciliation and then trying to kill us with big operations?”


In the words of the former UN Special Representative Kai Eide the main cause behind consistent insurgency is that the presence of Western forces in Afghanistan makes them feel humiliated. “While it may not be difficult to buy a young man out of unemployment ,it is difficult to buy him out of his convictions, sense of humiliation or alienation from power,” he is quoted as saying.


Matt Waldman, who prepared the report concludes, “Into what kind of society are we asking insurgents to integrate? ‘Golden surrender’ holds little appeal for those who are not fighting for gold. Indeed, there would seem to be as much need for the social and political reintegration of government officials and other power‐holders into society, as there is for insurgents. If this happens – through fairer politics, better government, and stronger development – it may well be that reintegration starts to happen quietly of its own accord.”***

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