Afghan Civil War 2.0: Return of Revenge

الصورة الكبيرة - تعقيدات السلام الأفغاني: 4 تفسيرات لرفض "طالبان
alarabi.co.uk

By Adnan Qaiser 17 April 2020

In this third paper among a five-part discussion series on Afghanistan, Adnan Qaiser, with a distinguished career in the armed forces and international diplomacy, examines why the prospects of an effective intra-Afghan dialogue – as envisaged in the U.S.-Taliban peace-deal of February 2020 – remain dim, and why the threat of a revived Afghan civil-war loom large over the country

You may find other episodes of the discussion here:

Part-I: ‘Sayonara’ Afghanistan? A Distant Goodbye

Part-II: Kaput Afghanistan: A ‘Rentier’ and Failed State

Part-IV: Afghan-Pakistan ‘Frenemity:’ A Tangled Relationship

Part-V: NATO’s ‘White Man’s Burden:’ Fighting an Alien War in Afghanistan

Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Vanda Felbab-Brown had foreseen in her 2012’s study titled Security and Politics in Pre-transition Afghanistan, “Most worrisomely, political trends, including a significant rise in ethnic tensions, are increasingly generating pressures toward a civil war. Hence even increases in security may not lead to greater stability if Afghans’ confidence in the future does not increase.[i]

The problem is that with so many stakeholders, non-state actors and power centres caught in an unending tug-of-war nobody actually knows what is going on in Afghanistan. Some say it is a battlefield of competing interests where it is hard to identify who is working for whom, and at what price.

Abraham Lincoln had probably noted for Afghanistan: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Afghanistan has remained a sad spectacle of tribal feuds and ethnic distrust;[ii] revenge and bloodshed; competing interests and power-play; poppy cultivation, opium production; and treachery and humanity’s abuse.[iii]

In Pashtun culture it is said: “Talks are just chatter; ultimate arbitrator remains the gun.” Thus, subsequent to the U.S.-Taliban peace-deal of February 2020, an expectation for a friction-free intra-Afghan dialogue remains improbable. In order to give peace a chance, all Afghan stakeholders need to abandon their “victor or vanquisher” mindset. However, it is easier said than done in view of Afghan’s culture of revenge – that keeps passing on from generations to generations like blood, pride and honour in the veins. Having gone through a civil-war in early 1990s, chances of another intra-Afghan conflict remain inevitable; this time deadlier and more ferocious to settle some 19-year old scores.[iv]

In my May 2017’s paper Afghanistan: A Graveyard of Empires or an Afghan Cemetery I had noted, “While proudly proclaiming their land as a “graveyard of empires,”[v] little do the Afghans realize that for centuries they have also been killing – and burying – their own kith-and-kin, owing to their internal discords, competing interests and a culture of revenge. Ethnic conflicts and tribal rivalries have not only kept Afghans dependent upon foreign powers, but their mutual acrimony and distrust impede peace prospects too. Afghanistan will never see a true peace unless disparate and heterogeneous Afghans ethnicities reconcile among themselves and stop supplicating to other countries.”[vi]

With war fatigue and frustration clearly written on his face, President Trump has rightly noted: “Countries have to take care of themselves … You can hold someone’s hand for so long.” Mr. Trump’s foresight about Taliban “possibly” seizing control of the country[vii] has further been corroborated by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who has already voiced, “Our jihad is not over. The [Afghan government] stooges who supported the invaders during the last two decades are our enemies. This might change after additional talks but at the moment, we are still at war.” While claiming Taliban to be “tough people … defending [the cause] of their country,” Taliban’s spokesman at Doha, Sohail Shaheen has also left the future battlefield scenario unclear by stating: “We’ve agreed there’s no violence, we don’t want violence; [but] we’ll see what happens [in the future].”[viii]

Similar to a naive and obstinate President Ghani’s ill-advised hanging of six Taliban inmates on 8 May 2016,[ix] – rebuffing Amnesty International and former President Hamid Karzai – his taunt to the Taliban after the peace-deal is unlikely to win him any concessions from the Taliban. Ghani, who should be more worried about his political future and personal safety, instead annoyed the Taliban further by asking them to break their ties with neighbouring Pakistan and sneered: “You have made peace with the foreigners, so what does your jihad mean now?” Mr. Ghani’s jibe may have meant to say that killing of fellow Muslim Afghans cannot be jihad in the name of Allah. However, Taliban’s terse response vowed their “jihad to continue” against an illegitimate and foreign puppet regime.[x]

Furthermore, Mr. Ghani’s insidiousness and lack of faith and commitment in intra-Afghan talks became evident from his selection of a 21-member negotiating team. Headed by a former intelligence chief, Masoom Stanekzai, almost all members are fierce critics and progenies of former warlords carrying hostile outlook towards the Taliban. Moreover, knowing a conservative Islamist militia’s uneasiness with womenfolk, Ghani included five hard-line women in the team to rub his adversary’s sensibilities the wrong way.[xi] Finding fault in the nominees, no brainer, the militia’s leadership instantly rejected to meet Mr. Ghani’s team.[xii]

Despite facing hostility not only from the Taliban but also from rival Mr. Abdullah Abdullah, an unyielding Ghani seems prepared to drag the country towards another civil war, but not to share power under any circumstances.[xiii] Denying similar “dangers [or] threats that existed” at post-2014 presidential election,[xiv] Mr. Ghani emphatically rebuffed any notion of a power-sharing government in an interview to Radio Free Europe on 26 September 2019 – even if it led to a civil war situation.[xv]

Writing a detailed account titled Afghanistan on the Edge? Elections, Elites and Ethnic Tensions in War on the Rocks, Andrew Watkins foresees “political chaos,”[xvi]turmoil,” “open conflict,” unrest and violence hitting Afghanistan owing to: 1) Centralization of power and political discontent; 2) Endemic corruption and economic patronage; and 3) Marginalization of traditional powerbrokers.[xvii]

A president by the stroke of luck, and foreign blessings, Mr. Ghani had been lacking leadership credentials and political acumen. BBC called him “a former technocrat who spent much of his career outside Afghanistan.”[xviii] Ghani remained disconnected with the masses, only ruling through the power of the constitution (that granted him unlimited powers) and a rogue intelligence agency. As discussed in the section below, Mr. Ghani’s intelligence outfit has not only unleashed a reign of terror in the country (as noted by the Foreign Policy,)[xix] but also running riot with the lives of hapless Afghans (as documented by the Human Rights Watch).[xx]

A Rogue “State-Within-a-State” Intelligence Network

Not only the Afghan intelligence’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), but also its predecessor, the notorious KhAD, has remained a state-within-a-state in Afghanistan. While the Afghan Khadamat-e-Aetla’at-e-Dawlati or KhAD had been created by the Soviets based on their communist ideology to promote and safeguard Soviet Politburo’s state interests during the Cold War;[xxi] the Americans established Riyasat-e-Amniyat-e-Milli, or the National Directorate of Security, on Western spying doctrines and approach[xxii] – without realizing that an Afghan’s biggest rival has remained another Afghan.

Ironically, the NDS not only failed to defeat the Taliban insurgency but also disastrously botched in controlling the spread of ‘violent extremist groups’ (VEGs) like Daesh (Islamic State-Khorasan) across Afghanistan. Instead, the rogue agency has been running-riot, targeting its own people through a ruthless campaign of harassment and persecution. History will blame the U.S. for allowing the Afghan intelligence’s wild-abandon under its watch. An anti-Afghan spying agency gone berserk – which the BBC called “dysfunctional” – NDS has only been safeguarding the interests of Afghan elites and warlords in the government.[xxiii]

Underlining a dangerous nexus of American C.I.A and the Afghan NDS, Foreign Policy’s Emran Feroz notes in a piece titled: Is Afghan Intelligence Building a Regime of Terror With the CIA’s Help? Emran documents, for instance: “[L]ittle is known about the NDS, its structure, and to whom it is answering … They are dangerous, and they do not make any compromises … NDS is not just the official successor of KhAD – it is also imitating its brutal tactics to turn Afghanistan into a new police state with the help of U.S. intelligence, which is supporting the regime.”

Foreign Policy keeps recording: “The most notorious spy chief in Kabul was Asadullah Khalid, [President Ghani’s defence minister in 2019] who led the intelligence service from 2012 to 2015. Already before doing so, Khalid was accused of a long list of human rights abuses, including abduction, torture, rape, and murder … [plus] five United Nations workers allegedly to protect the local drug trafficking ring. In 2010, Canadian government documents reported that Khalid had his own private dungeon while serving as the governor of Kandahar.”

Quoting from a 2019’s report of Human Rights Watch, the author continues baring the atrocities of NDS sleuths: “In Afghanistan, both intelligence services have become notorious for their hunt-and-kill tactics, which often result in civilian casualties. It is well documented that CIA units like the Khost Protection Force (KPF), which is mainly present in the southeastern provinces, abduct, torture, and kill Afghan civilians deliberately—a fact that was underlined by a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report in late 2019.[xxiv] The 53-page report documents 14 cases across nine provinces from late 2017 to mid-2019. According to HRW, the cases clearly illustrate that the Afghan forces trained and funded by the CIA have shown little concern for civilian life or accountability to international law. The militias are active all over the country, most recently in the provinces of Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Nangarhar, and Maidan Wardak. ‘These abusive forces, which are backed by the CIA, have routinely disregarded protections to which civilians and detainees are entitled,’ Patricia Gossman, HRW’s associate Asia director and the report’s author, told Foreign Policy. ‘These are not isolated cases but illustrative of a larger pattern of serious laws-of-war violations—even war crimes—by these paramilitary forces.  In case after case, the NDS strike forces and KPF have simply shot people in their custody and consigned entire communities to the terror of abusive night raids and indiscriminate airstrikes. The U.S. and Afghan governments should end this pathology and disband all irregular forces.’”[xxv]

The Curse of Private Militias

During the Afghan war, the insurgents always touted that while the “Western forces carry watches; they have the time” (at their side). Same principle applies to the Afghan culture of revenge, when personal and tribal vendettas are settled over generations. This time, however, some 19-year old rancour, grudges and wrongs need to be settled, which will undoubtedly bring violence and bloodshed. Thus, it remains natural for the Taliban to refuse talking to the Afghan regime, considering it illegitimate and foreign sponsored. Expectedly, the Taliban have already broken-off the initial consultations with the government on prisoner-release citing them “fruitless meetings … delayed under one pretext or another.”[xxvi]

Meanwhile, a disruption of status quo – that has further enriched the elites and warlords on Western largesse – remains unacceptable to the Afghan government. Warlords belonging to the former Northern Alliance (and comprising of Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnicities), who rode to Kabul on the back of U.S. forces, after the fall of the Taliban regime in November 2001, and had carried out unprecedented war-crimes and genocide are understandably nervous because their payback time has arrived.[xxvii]

Warlordism, meanwhile, remains deeply entrenched in Afghanistan.[xxviii] Since these warlords have reinforced their private militias through massive corruption and siphoning-off of weapons meant for the Afghan security forces,[xxix] another ferocious civil war – similar to that of 1992-1996 after the defeat of Soviet forces in Afghan Jihad – is written on the wall.[xxx] The demolition of an illegal arms depot belonging to Jan Mohammad, said to be a close ally of former chief executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, by the U.S. forces on 29 June 2015 not only underscored the failure of Afghanistan’s disarmament program, but also signified the Afghan leadership’s dependence on private militias.[xxxi]

Moreover, NATO forces’ militarization of an already polarized Afghan populace by creating and arming private militias[xxxii] called ‘Arbakais’ will go a long way in denying peace to this war-ravaged country. In order to legitimize their private militias and equip them with latest weapons through legal channels, the local power-brokers and warlords in the Afghan government convinced the foreign forces about the need of having “community policing” to supplement national security and defence forces, though without law enforcement powers.

The creation of a large number of such militias under the nomenclatures of Afghan National Auxiliary Police, Afghan Social Outreach Program Forces, Community Defense Forces, Community Defense Initiative/Local Defense Initiative Forces, and Interim Security Structure under Critical Infrastructure Protection Force program, [xxxiii] led to further ‘weaponization’ of an already armed society that has long survived on war economy. In the absence of foreign forces to act as an arbitrator among the warring groups, a civil war styled armed clashes cannot be ruled out among smaller fiefdoms and against Taliban.[xxxiv]

In its damning report of September 2011, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced the creation of such so-called “local police” by stating: “The government has reactivated various irregular armed groups, particularly in the north. Hundreds of small militias have also been created, by powerful local figures … described as local strongmen or warlords … many of which have been accused of human rights abuses.” The Rights group continued to reproach: “Militias of all varieties have participated in murderous tribal vendettas, targeted killings, smuggling, and extortion. Rapes of women, girls, and boys have been frequent.”

Condemning Afghan intelligence’s ominous designs, the HRW documented: “Their rise has been a deliberate policy of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), which has reactivated militia networks of previous decades, primarily through the Shura-e-Nazar (‘supervisory Council’ of the north, formerly led by Ahmed Shah Masood) and Jamiat-i-Islami networks. The NDS has provided money and guns without requisite oversight. With patronage links to senior officials in the local security forces and the central government, these groups operate with impunity.”[xxxv]

On the other hand, the Taliban’s Fidayee Mahaz, a breakaway faction of young zealots, had already rejected any peace negotiations and vowed to fight until a final victory through the power of the barrel.[xxxvi] Only time will tell if Mullah Haibutullah Akhund, the Taliban’s emir is able to control the renegade groups.

Afghan Genocide and Mass Graves

Under Afghan culture of vengeance warring groups forgiving and forgetting the massive carnage and mayhem remains out of question. Therefore, it was too late for General Abdul Rashid Dostum to counsel, “We should not wash blood with blood,” as noted by Carlotta Gall in her book, The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014.[xxxvii]

The Battles of Mazar-i-Sharif fought from 1997 to 1998,[xxxviii] and resurrected in December 2001 in the shape of Dash-i-Leili massacre – when Taliban prisoners were suffocated to death in truck-containers and buried in mass graves by General Dostum’s forces, belonging to the Northern Alliance – will keep haunting Afghanistan for times to come.[xxxix] Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission later confirmed the destruction of massacre’s evidence in 2008.[xl]

Thus, despite General Dostum’s apology to the Afghan nation, the Taliban will decide if the Uzbek warlord deserves forgiveness or not. In an admission of guilt the ruthless warlord of yesteryears confessed in October 2013: “There were many mistakes made during the civil war. It is time we apologize to the Afghan people who were sacrificed due to our negative policies. I’m taking the first step, and I apologize to the people who suffered from the violence and civil war in the country.”[xli]

Furthermore, the 800-page report of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission titled Conflict Mapping in Afghanistan since 1978 featuring 180 mass graves containing the remains of those Afghan who had been summarily executed between the Communist Saur Revolution of April 1978 and the fall of Taliban in December 2001 may not allow peace return easily to this war-ravaged country.[xlii]

Political Old Score Settling

Owing to their belief about the illegal removal of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Taliban have always considered the post Bonn 2001 political dispensation as illicit and unlawful.[xliii] Notwithstanding the two symbolic Pashtun presidents,[xliv] the Northern Alliance’s de facto take-over of Kabul,[xlv] with the backing of international forces, cannot be easily forgotten, or forgiven.[xlvi]

As warlordism has been reinforced – ironically under the direct watch of NATO forces – Afghan society and its polity is likely to remain at daggers drawn to each other.[xlvii] Thus, the ultimate fate of Afghan leaders, like Marshal Qasim Fahim (Karzai’s vice president), Abdul Rashid Dostum (Ghani’s first vice president until he went into self-exile after torturing (sodomizing) one of his political opponents, Ahmad Eshchi, in November 2016),[xlviii] Karim Khalili (Karzai’s vice president and head of High Peace Council) and (Ustad) Haji Mohammad Muhaqiq (leader of Hezb-e-Wahdat) and several others awaits to be decided.

Writing in the Foreign Policy the chairman of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies and a former deputy foreign minister of Afghanistan, Hekmat Khalil Karzai argued, “There is no single or linear path toward ending decades of conflict and mistrust. All sides have lost loved ones and have constituencies that must be taken into consideration. However, the only way to protect those constituencies and honor the memory of those who died is to secure a dignified peace.[xlix]

Riaz Muhammad Khan, a former foreign secretary of Pakistan, who dealt with the Afghan affairs after the withdrawal of Soviet forces in Afghanistan (February 1989), documents in his book Afghanistan and Pakistan: Conflict, Extremism, and Resistance to Modernity: “The Afghan leaders are often propelled by their individual ambitions and divided along political and ethnic lines. [L]eaders were driven by narrow, parochial self-interest, with little sensitivity to the continued misery of ordinary Afghans suffering on account of the conflict.  The mutual distrust and rivalries, the unwillingness to accommodate or tolerate political opponents, and the deep ethnic divisions continued to fuel the conflict during the twelve-year interregnum between 1989 and 2001, when no foreign forces were in the country. Refusal to share power was not just the hallmark of obscurantist religious leadership of the Taliban, but was also common in the behaviour of their predecessors, who were better attuned to the realities of the world around Afghanistan.”[l]

Despite Afghan government’s peace-agreement with Gulbadin Hekmatyar in September 2016,[li] Taliban’s rapprochement or reconciliation with the notorious “Butcher of Kabul” remains to be seen.[lii] An arbitrarily pardoned,[liii] but remorseless Mr. Hekmatyar keeps refusing to apologize for his war-crimes.[liv] Human Rights Watch had condemned the deal as “an affront to victims of grave abuses,” which compounds a “culture of impunity” fostered by the government and foreign donors.[lv]

Moreover, sharing of political space and government power with the radically backward Taliban does not serve the interests of the Afghan elites. Therefore, we saw no urgency or seriousness on part of the Afghan government(s) to engage in honest and meaningful dialogue with the Taliban in the past, rhetoric notwithstanding.[lvi]

As discussed in last chapter (Kaput Afghanistan: A ‘Rentier’ and Failed State), the futility of the much trumpeted High Peace Council (HPC)[lvii] was enough to demonstrate Karzai and Ghani regimes’ lack of commitment in power-sharing and political reconciliation. The HPC, which was created with a lot of hope and exuberance on 5 September 2010,[lviii] kept running from pillar-to-post with its Roadmap 2015,[lix] before dying its death on 27 July 2019.[lx]

A Deformed and Dispirited Afghan National Defence and Security Force

The Afghan National Army (ANA) and security force, on the other hand, remain a great disappointment. Similar to their melt-down during the Afghan civil-war of 1992-1996, the extraordinarily bloated force cannot withstand the ideologically motivated and battle-hardened Taliban fighters. Thus, the security forces’ losses at the hands of Taliban or due to attrition had been no news. Except for the special-forces (probably), NATO could not properly equip and train a majority of the Afghan National Army owing to troops’ lack of commitment, language barrier and desertions due to low morale. ANA’s defections to the Taliban[lxi] and killing of their mentors (NATO trainers) in a sharp rise of green on blue attacks[lxii] further caused great embarrassment to the foreign forces.

As noted in my 2018’s paper titled The War in Afghanistan: Curtains without Climax,[lxiii] “U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) gave a less than satisfactory report card to the U.S. led coalition forces in April 2018 for acute deficiencies in the Afghan National Defence and Security Force (ANDSF). SIGAR recorded, for instance: ‘Despite US government expenditures of more than [US]$70 billion in security sector assistance to design, train, advise, assist, and equip the ANDSF since 2002, the Afghan security forces are not yet capable of securing their own nation.’[lxiv] Afghan territory keeps slipping out of the hands of Western-trained Afghanistan’s six field and one commando corps spread countrywide: 201 Corps, garrisoning Kabul; 203 Corps, Gardez; 205 Corps, Kandahar; 207 Corps, Heart; 209 Corps, Mazar-i-Sharif; and 215 Corps at Lashkargah.”

Highlighting the internecine ethnic and tribal feuds, I had further noted: “The jittery manner in which the Afghan gunship helicopters [had] killed 36 innocent villagers, including 30 children and wounded 71 others at Dasht-i-Archi in Kunduz province on 2 April 2018, demonstrated Afghan troops’ inadequate training by the foreign forces. There had been a rationale behind denying Afghan soldiers the use of gunships or fighter jets as they then start settling their personal vendettas, tribal disputes and ethnic feuds themselves.”[lxv]

Conclusion

Afghanistan has been a chronicle of merciless vengeance and bloodshed. In the absence of foreign forces – when there would be no holds barred and no one to inculcate some sense of restraint or forbearance to the warring groups – the country’s internecine ethnic and tribal feuds, spurred by regional interference, will likely to drag the country towards another civil-war like situation.[lxvi]

While the new buzz-word is intra-Afghan dialogue,[lxvii] those familiar with Afghanistan’s history  know that the country has remained a “graveyard of empires” – as well as a cemetery of native Afghans (for a detailed account of Afghanistan’s contemporary political history read Michael Rubin’s Who Is Responsible for the Taliban? in The Washington Institute).[lxviii] Afghanistan will remain an obituary unless the country’s political fundamentals and its intrinsic discrepancies are fully understood – and addressed:

1) First of all, the Afghan nation’s historic ethno-linguistic discords, mutual distrust and a culture of retribution needs to be brought to an end.[lxix] Like any modern-day nation-state, Afghanistan must shed its heavy baggage of past and emerge as an inclusive society and an incorporating polity 

2) The Afghan leadership has to come out of its rentier mindset. The politicians must stop looking towards regional and extra-regional powers for legitimacy and support; in return leasing-out national dignity and state sovereignty[lxx]

3) At the same time, the Afghans must recognize the elite-capture of their society. The foreign-brand expatriates on plum government jobs are no panacea of Afghan maladies. These suave and savvy immigrants loath their conservative and deprived countrymen and remain disconnected to the cultural ethos and political aspirations of the masses

4) A proper political structure needs to be evolved and established – preferably under the traditional and well-respected Loya Jirga – bringing an end to tribal warlordism and private militias. A universally recognized and legitimate central government must exercise its full control over peripheral areas, granting the provinces their due democratic rights and autonomy

5) Afghanistan’s dependence on a war and crime-based economy, particularly narcotics trade must end.[lxxi] This can only happen if poppy-cultivating farmers are provided with an alternate source of income and economic incentives, and  

6) Finally, Afghanistan’s largely rural-based, Islamic-moored, Sharia-adhered society needs to be provided with an alternate model of governance, which not only conforms to the Islamic tenets and injunctions but also meets the present-day democratic and human rights prerequisites. As I have noted in my studies on Islamic radicalism, more often than not, “religious-terrorism” emanates from political repression and socio-economic injustice.[lxxii] Unless Afghan’s abject poverty is redressed through legitimate government and provided with swift and inexpensive justice, people will keep looking towards messianic (sic) fundamentalists like Taliban

Documenting U.S. mistakes, Tim Bird and Alex Marshall record in their scholarship Afghanistan: How the West Lost its Way, “[T]he US empowered a network of thugs and minor warlords to pursue a counterterrorist approach that itself fell victim to confused strategy, competing agendas and inflexible decision-making.”[lxxiii]

Afghanistan has never been vanquished by any foreign invader; it has been beaten, time and again, by itself.

Adnan Qaiser can be reached at a.qaiser1@yahoo.com


[i] Vanda Felbab-Brown, Senior Fellow, Security and Politics in Pre-transition Afghanistan, Brookings Institution, 9 May 2012 https://www.brookings.edu/research/security-and-politics-in-pre-transition-afghanistan/; PDF Report: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/08-security-afghanistan-felbabbrown.pdf

[ii] Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation, International Crisis Group, Report 62 / Asia, 5 Aug 2003 https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-asia/afghanistan/afghanistan-problem-pashtun-alienation

[iii] Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum is being accused of sodomy and torture by a political rival, The New York Times reports. Saagar Enjeti, Afghanistan’s VP May Have Sodomized Political Rival With Assault Rifle, Daily Caller, 14 Dec 2016 https://dailycaller.com/2016/12/14/afghanistans-vp-may-have-sodomized-political-rival-with-assault-rifle/

[iv] A Reporter at Large by Dexter Filkins, After America, Will civil War hit Afghanistan when the US leaves? The New Yorker, Jul 9, 2012 http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/07/09/120709fa_fact_filkins?currentPage=all

[v] The foreign powers that have tried to control Afghanistan since the 19th century have all suffered for the effort. Now the U.S. is digging back in. Rod Nordland, The Empire Stopper, The New York Times, 29 Aug 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/world/asia/afghanistan-graveyard-empires-historical-pictures.html

[vi] Adnan Qaiser (Author), Afghanistan: A Graveyard of Empires or an Afghan Cemetery, Conference of Defence Associations Institute, 31 May 2017 http://cdainstitute.ca/qaiser-on-afghanistan-a-graveyard-of-empires-or-an-afghan-cemetery/

[vii] Taliban could ‘possibly’ seize power after US leaves, warns Trump, Dawn, 8 Mar 2020 https://www.dawn.com/news/1539028/taliban-could-possibly-seize-power-after-us-leaves-warns-trump

[viii] Emran Feroz, Afghans Wonder: Is the Peace Deal Just for Americans? Foreign Policy, 6 Mar 2020 https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/06/afghans-wonder-taliban-peace-deal-americans/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20059&utm_term=Editor#39;s%20Picks%20OC&?tpcc=20059

[ix] Antonio Olivo and Sayed Salahuddin, Afghanistan hangs 6 Taliban inmates in face of increasing violence, The Washington Post, 8 May 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/afghan-officials-hang-6-taliban-insurgents-in-face-of-increasing-violence/2016/05/08/8b0b1d69-209a-4c76-a973-1c41ce6d53ac_story.html

[x] Anadolu Agency, President Ghani asks Afghan Taliban to break ties with Pakistan, The Express Tribune, 3 Mar 2020 https://tribune.com.pk/story/2168756/1-president-ghani-asks-afghan-taliban-break-ties-pakistan/

[xi] AFP, Afghan govt names negotiating team for talks with Taliban, Dawn, 28 Mar 2020 https://www.dawn.com/news/1544345/afghan-govt-names-negotiating-team-for-talks-with-taliban

[xii] Reuters, Taliban say will not negotiate with team announced by Afghan government, Dawn, 29 Mar 2020 https://www.dawn.com/news/1544490/taliban-say-will-not-negotiate-with-team-announced-by-afghan-government; Also see: Umair Jamal, The Taliban Rejects Ghani’s Intra-Afghan Dialogue Team: What Now?, The Diplomat, 31 Mar 2020 https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/the-taliban-rejects-ghanis-intra-afghan-dialogue-team-what-now/

[xiii] Emran Feroz, Afghans Fear Yet Another Civil War, Foreign Policy, 17 Feb 2020 https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/17/average-afghans-fear-yet-another-new-civil-war/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=19815&utm_term=Flashpoints%20OC&

[xiv] Michael Crowley, Inside John Kerry’s Diplomatic Save in Afghanistan, TIME, 18 Jul 2014 https://time.com/3001703/kerry-afghanistan-civil-war/

[xv] RFE/RL Interview: Ghani Rules Out Another Afghan Unity Government, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, 26 Sept 2019 https://www.rferl.org/a/rfe-rl-interview-ghani-rules-out-new-unity-government-in-afghanistan/30185058.html

[xvi] Kathy Gannon, With vote over, Afghanistan faces possible political chaos, Associated Press, 29 Sept 2019 https://apnews.com/dc213f79026b4821b1a85a270dbc9bb6

[xvii] Andrew Watkins, Afghanistan On The Edge? Elections, Elites, And Ethnic Tensions, The War on Rocks, 31 Oct 2019 https://warontherocks.com/2019/10/afghanistan-on-the-edge-elections-elites-and-ethnic-tensions/

[xviii] Ashraf Ghani is Who is Ashraf Ghani? The technocrat who sought to rebuild Afghanistan, BBC News, 26 Sept 2019 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27142426

[xix] Emran Feroz, Is Afghan Intelligence Building a Regime of Terror With the CIA’s Help?, Foreign Policy, 6 Feb 2020 https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/06/nds-afghanistan-intelligence-dissident-murder-cia-help/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=19534&utm_term=Editor#39;s%20Picks%20OC&?tpcc=19534

[xx] “They’ve Shot Many Like This” Abusive Night Raids by CIA-Backed Afghan Strike Forces, Human Rights Watch, 31 Oct 2019 https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/10/31/theyve-shot-many/abusive-night-raids-cia-backed-afghan-strike-forces; PDF Version: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/afghanistan1019_web.pdf

[xxi] Of Russian origin: Politburo, Russiapedia https://russiapedia.rt.com/of-russian-origin/politburo/

[xxii] Diva Patang, Afghanistan Intelligence War, Air University, 17 Feb 2020 https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Wild-Blue-Yonder/Article-Display/Article/2072075/afghanistan-intelligence-war/

[xxiii] Afghanistan’s dysfunctional security agencies, BBC News, 14 Aug 2011 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-14379194

[xxiv] “They’ve Shot Many Like This” Abusive Night Raids by CIA-Backed Afghan Strike Forces, Human Rights Watch, 31 Oct 2019 https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/10/31/theyve-shot-many/abusive-night-raids-cia-backed-afghan-strike-forces; PDF Version: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/afghanistan1019_web.pdf

[xxv] Emran Feroz, Is Afghan Intelligence Building a Regime of Terror With the CIA’s Help?, Foreign Policy, 6 Feb 2020 https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/06/nds-afghanistan-intelligence-dissident-murder-cia-help/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=19534&utm_term=Editor#39;s%20Picks%20OC&?tpcc=19534

[xxvi] Reuters, Taliban break off talks with Afghan govt on prisoner exchange, Dawn, 7 Apr 2020 https://www.dawn.com/news/1547125/taliban-break-off-talks-with-afghan-govt-on-prisoner-exchange

[xxvii] Steven Morris and Ewen MacAskill, Collapse of the Taliban, The Guardian, 17 Nov 2001 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/nov/17/afghanistan.terrorism10

[xxviii] Neighbourhood watch: Warlords still rule Afghanistan by Tahir Khan, The Express Tribune, 04 Jul 2015

[xxix] Ron Synovitz, Afghanistan: Armed northern militias complicate security, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 4 Nov 2007 https://www.refworld.org/docid/473075f514.html

[xxx] The Cost of War: Afghan Experiences of Conflict, 1978 – 2009, Oxfam https://www-cdn.oxfam.org/s3fs-public/file_attachments/afghanistan-the-cost-of-war_14.pdf

[xxxi] UN to launch disarmament programme Friday in Afghanistan, UN News Centre, 23 Oct 2003 https://news.un.org/en/story/2003/10/83412-un-launch-disarmament-programme-friday-afghanistan

[xxxii] AFP, Tribesmen rise up against Afghan Taliban, Dawn, 20 July 2012 https://www.dawn.com/news/735806/tribesmen-rise-up-against-afghan-taliban

[xxxiii] Critical Infrastructure Protection Program (CIP), Afghan War News http://afghanwarnews.info/security/cip.htm; Also see: Sanjeev Miglani, Afghanistan tells NATO to disband local force, may open rift, Reuters, 27 Dec 2011

[xxxiv] Dexter Filkins, After America: Will civil war hit Afghanistan when the US leaves? A Reporter at Large The New Yorker, Jul 9, 2012 (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/07/09/120709fa_fact_filkins?currentPage=all)

[xxxv] HRW Report, “Just Don’t Call It a Militia” Impunity, Militias, and the “Afghan Local Police”, Human Rights Watch, Sept 2011 https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/afghanistan0911webwcover.pdf

[xxxvi] Tahir Khan, Common fight: Afghan Taliban faction approaches IS leader, The Express Tribune, 30 June 2015 https://tribune.com.pk/story/912067/common-fight-afghan-taliban-faction-approaches-is-leader/

[xxxvii] General Abdul Rashid Dostum on the surrender of Mullah Fazel, the Taliban commander in the north. Carlotta Gall, The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014, Mariner Books: Houghton Mifflen Harcourt 2015, p. 1; Also see: Book Review by Patrick Cockburn, Double Game, The New York Times, 25 Apr 2014 https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/books/review/the-wrong-enemy-by-carlotta-gall.html?auth=login-email&login=email

[xxxviii] Afghanistan: The Massacre In Mazar-I Sharif, Human Rights Watch, November 1998 Vol. 10, No. 7 (C) https://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports98/afghan/Afrepor0.htm

[xxxix] Carlotta Gall, Study Hints at Mass Killing of the Taliban, The New York Times, 1 May 2002  https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/01/world/study-hints-at-mass-killing-of-the-taliban.html; Also see: Luke Harding, Afghan massacre haunts Pentagon, The Guardian, 14 Sept 2002 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/sep/14/afghanistan.lukeharding

[xl] Evidence of war crimes on the site of a 2001 massacre believed to contain the remains of up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners has been destroyed, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has announced. War Crime Evidence Destroyed In Afghanistan, Commission Finds, Radio Free Europe, 29 Dec 2008 https://www.rferl.org/a/War_Crime_Evidence_Destroyed_In_Afghanistan/1364774.html

[xli] Frud Bezhan, Former Afghan Warlord Apologizes For Past ‘Mistakes’, Radio Free Europe, 8 Oct 2013 https://www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-dostum-warcrimes-apology/25130594.html

[xlii] Ali M Latifi, Afghan rights report stalled by warlord fears, Al-Jazeera, 28 Jul 2012 http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/07/2012728111845610829.html

[xliii] David Rising, Afghan leaders sign deal on interim government, The Independent, 5 Dec 2001 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghan-leaders-sign-deal-on-interim-government-9226930.html; Also see: Filling the Vacuum: The Bonn Conference, Frontline, PBS https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/campaign/withus/cbonn.html

[xliv] Leela Jacinto, The New Mayor of Kabul, Foreign Policy, 1 Apr 2014 https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/04/01/the-new-mayor-of-kabul/

[xlv] James Meek, Luke Harding and Ewen MacAskill, Northern Alliance enters Kabul as Taliban flee, The Guardian, 13 Nov 2001 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/nov/13/afghanistan.terrorism13

[xlvi] AP, Suicide bomber kills 19 civilians in northern Afghanistan, Dawn, 22 Jul 2015 https://www.dawn.com/news/1195667/suicide-bomber-kills-19-civilians-in-northern-afghanistan

[xlvii] Tahir Khan, Neighbourhood watch: Warlords still rule Afghanistan, The Express Tribune, 04 Jul 2015 https://tribune.com.pk/story/914452/warlords-still-rule-afghanistan/

[xlviii] Afghan Vice-President Dostum flies to Turkey amid torture claims, BBC News, 20 May 2017 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39984639

[xlix] Hekmat Khalil Karzai, The Afghan Government Can’t Make Peace With the Taliban on Its Own, Foreign Policy, 2 Apr 2019 https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/04/02/the-afghan-government-cant-make-peace-with-the-taliban-on-its-own/

[l] Riaz Muhammad Khan, Afghanistan and Pakistan: Conflict, Extremism, and Resistance to Modernity, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 351-352 https://www.wilsoncenter.org/book/afghanistan-and-pakistan-conflict-extremism-and-resistance-to-modernity

[li] AFP, ‘Butcher of Kabul’ calls for peace as signs Afghan pact The Express Tribune, 29 Sept 2016 https://tribune.com.pk/story/1190769/butcher-kabul-calls-peace-signs-afghan-pact/

[lii] Interview by Sune Engel Rasmussen, Kabul welcomes the Afghan warlord who once shelled its citizensThe Guardian, 24 Oct 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/24/kabul-welcomes-the-afghan-warlord-who-once-shelled-its-citizens

[liii] The Afghan government has pardoned one of the country’s most notorious warlords for past offences including terrorist attacks and alleged war crimes as part of a peace deal with his militant group, Hezb-i-Islami. Human Rights Watch describes deal with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as ‘an affront to victims of grave abuses.’ Sune Engel Rasmussen, ‘Butcher of Kabul’ pardoned in Afghan peace deal, The Guardian, 22 Sept 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/22/butcher-of-kabul-pardoned-in-afghan-peace-deal

[liv] Gulbudddin Hekmatyar refuse to apologize over war crime allegations, Khaama Press, 16 Nov 2016 https://www.khaama.com/gulbudddin-hekmatyar-refuse-to-apologize-over-war-crime-allegations-02291

[lv] Hekmatyar Deal an Affront to Victims of Grave Abuses. Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia Director, Afghanistan War Crimes Suspect Comes Home, Human Rights Watch, 21 Sept 2016 https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/21/afghanistan-war-crimes-suspect-comes-home

[lvi] Amrullah Saleh, The crisis and politics of ethnicity in Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera, 26 Jun 2012 https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/06/201262013830446913.html

[lvii] A leaked document outlines a timetable for a political settlement and envisages a lead role for Pakistan, at a time Islamabad is also signalling it is keen for a deal Julian Borger, Afghanistan produces a roadmap for peace, but does it go anywhere? The Guardian, 17 Dec 2012 https://www.theguardian.com/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2012/dec/17/afghanistan-pakistan-taliban-peace

[lviii] Karzai sets up council for peace talks with Taliban, BBC News, 4 Sept 2010 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11188294

[lix] Full text of “Afghan Peace Process Roadmap to 2015,” https://archive.org/stream/539755-saeed-1/539755-saeed-1_djvu.txt; Also see: Julian Borger, Afghanistan produces a roadmap for peace, but does it go anywhere? The Guardian, 17 Dec 2012 https://www.theguardian.com/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2012/dec/17/afghanistan-pakistan-taliban-peace

[lx] Ghani Dissolves High Peace Council’s Secretariat, Tolo News, 27 July 2019 https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/president-ghani-dissolves-high-peace-council

[lxi] Afghan policemen defect to Taliban in Farah province, BBC News, Jul 24, 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18965123

[lxii] Emma Kasprzak, Afghanistan conflict: Rise of ‘green on blue’ deaths, BBC News, May 17, 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18057422

[lxiii] Adnan Qaiser (Author), The War in Afghanistan: Curtains without Climax, Global Village Space, 7 Aug 2018 https://www.globalvillagespace.com/the-war-in-afghanistan-curtains-without-climax/

[lxiv] Anwar Iqbal, US failed to raise a fully capable Afghan force: report , Dawn, 5 Apr 2018 https://www.dawn.com/news/1399670/us-failed-to-raise-a-fully-capable-afghan-force-report

[lxv] Reuters, Afghan gunships killed 36 in attack on madressah last month, says UN, Dawn, 8 May 2018 https://www.dawn.com/news/1406343/afghan-gunships-killed-36-in-attack-on-madressah-last-month-says-un; Also see: Dan Lamothe, Afghan air force is growing and so are questions about its actions in combat, Dawn, 31 Jul 2018 https://www.dawn.com/news/1424007/afghan-air-force-is-growing-and-so-are-questions-about-its-actions-in-combat

[lxvi] Raghav Sharma, Conflict or Civil War? Conceptualizing the Conflict in Afghanistan, E-International Relations, 30 May 2014 https://www.e-ir.info/2014/05/30/conflict-or-civil-war-conceptualizing-the-conflict-in-afghanistan/

[lxvii] Kathy Gannon The Associated Press, U.S. peace deal leaves Afghans to determine post-war landscape, CTV News, 3 Mar 2020 https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/u-s-peace-deal-leaves-afghans-to-determine-post-war-landscape-1.4836171

[lxviii] Michael Rubin, Who Is Responsible for the Taliban?, Middle East Review of International Affairs, The Washington Institute, Mar 2002 https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/who-is-responsible-for-the-taliban

[lxix] Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation, International Crisis Group, Report 62 / Asia, 5 Aug 2003 https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-asia/afghanistan/afghanistan-problem-pashtun-alienation

[lxx] Geoff Burt, Rentier State Building in Afghanistan: A Political Economy View, Centre for International Governance Innovation https://www.cigionline.org/articles/rentier-state-building-afghanistan-political-economy-view; Also see: Afghanistan as a Rentier State Model: Lessons from the Collapse, G.D. Bakshi, Officer, Indian Army https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09700169808458852

[lxxi] Alfred W McCoy, How the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan, The Guardian, 9 Jan 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/09/how-the-heroin-trade-explains-the-us-uk-failure-in-afghanistan

[lxxii] (1) Adnan Qaiser (Author) Islamic Radicalism – A Discussion Series’ Introduction, Part-1, YouTube (HD) https://youtu.be/EUJFWOJxXo0; Also see (2) Adnan Qaiser (Author) Radical Islamism: Understanding Extremist Narrative and Mindset, Conference of Defence Associations Institute’s On Track magazine, Spring Edition 2017, p. 24, May 2017 http://cdainstitute.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ONTRACKSpring2017.pdf

[lxxiii] Tim Bird and Alex Marshall, Afghanistan: How the West Lost its Way, Yale University Press (2011), p. 251 https://www.amazon.com/Afghanistan-How-West-Lost-Its/dp/0300154577

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