Afghanistan's Local War: Building Local Defense Forces by Seth G. Jones

By Seth G. Jones

In Afghanistan, neighborhood groups have performed a serious position in protection, particularly in rural parts. Afghan nationwide protection forces are vital to the top-down method, however the Afghan govt and NATO forces additionally have to leverage neighborhood groups to achieve a complementary bottom-up technique. This research discusses the viability of creating neighborhood protection forces in Afghanistan and addresses issues in regards to the knowledge of such guidelines.

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Intense fighting is common among subtribes, such as between the Hassanzai, Khalozai, and Pirzai subtribes of the Alizai in Helmand Province. 2 highlights the key Ghilzai tribes, many of which dwell in highland areas of the east. 19 In addition to the Durranis and Ghilzai, Pashtun tribes include the Wardak, Jaji, Tani, Zadran, Mangal, Safi, Mohmand, and Shinwari. Our analysis indicates that tribal and other local affiliations tend to be more pronounced in rural areas. In some urban areas, such as the cities of Kandahar and Kabul, tribal and other local ties appear to have weakened for many Pashtuns.

In some areas, Taliban leaders have also elevated the role of mullahs and other religious leaders to assist in the function of sharia (Islamic law) courts. 14 Pashtuns have long based identity on a nested set of clans and lineages that stem from a common ancestor. 15 Afghan tribal organizations use common descent through the male line to define membership, but these bonds tend to be weaker in urban areas, where central government control is stronger. “If all politics is local, then Afghan politics is local and personal as well,” notes anthropologist Thomas Barfield.

36 While each arbakai has a clear leader, they are accountable to the council (jirga or shura) that created the arbakai, as well as to the community. In sum, their loyalty is to their communities, not to an individual leader. 37 The responsibility of any specific arbakai differs from one tribe to another, although they do have common tasks and duties: • Implement the jirga’s decisions. • Maintain law and order. 38 The central government normally cannot convene arbakai because that is the purview of the jirgas.

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