Wednesday, September 30, 2015

An analysis of the deteriorating Security in Kunduz Province

following on my last post on the summary of the situation in this post I will analyse:

The Dynamics of Power and Politics in Kunduz

The Northern Alliance which consists of Jamiat Islami, Ittahad Islami, Junbish Islami, Hizb Wahadat and smaller Tanzims[1] gained power after the fall of Taliban, on the insistence of the West and particularly the US Hamed Karzai was installed as the president but for the first few years he lacked any real power and all important official positions below the president on the national level was occupied by northern alliance.

One of the key challenges Karzai faced during his entire term was to make the government national by reducing the influence of military political faction, i.e. Northern alliance and make the government inclusive by giving place to Pashtuns in the government. Hamid Karzai installed a range of Pashtuns and Tajik technocrats at important positions in Kabul and Pashtuns to replace Northern Alliance at provincial level. Most Pashtuns were formerly members of Hizbi Islami or Taliban, the staunch enemy of Northern Alliance.

Kunduz traditionally have had strong Tanzim presence with strong local commanders, the provincial capital of Kunduz was overrun by Jihadists early in August 1988 right after Soviet combat troops withdraw from the city garrison but was recaptured by the government forces that only remained in control of the provincial capital.[2] Hizb, Jamiat and Ittahad have had military base in Kunduz, some of the strongest commanders such as Aref Khan, Arbab Mohammad Hashem,  Mirza Mohammad Naseri, Latif and Rauf Ibrahimi defected to Taliban and in the post 2001 climate where power was assigned by the US they remained marginalised or were killed. In addition, several hundred sub-commanders of Kunduz that surrendered to Northern Alliance with their 4000 men in 2001 were massacred by Dustom men in Dasht lailly. Two commanders of Jamiat Gen. Daud Daud and Mir Alam became the most influential strongmen of Kunduz after successfully reducing most opponents with assistance from the US military.
General Daud and Mir Alam run Kunduz like a fiefdom, this was not acceptable for the Kabul government, in an attempt to break their grip Karzai lured Gen. Daud to Kabul by appointing him as the national deputy minister of interior in 2004.
Mir Alam for his influence was not bestowed with a position in the government. A state position would greatly enhance his legitimacy and contact with regional, national and international powers. He started to cause trouble for the Kabul regime, for instance in 2005 Mir Alam men launched several attacks on Afghan police and security forces.[3] This is just before the parliamentary election when security is paramount; in order to ensure security Karzai’s most viable choice was to reward Mir Alam with a senior position in the government. Mir Alam was appointed chief of police of neighbouring Baghlan province in June 2005. To become the chief of police, he had to hand over a large cache of 765 weapons plus ammunition to Motaleb Beg as part of the deal.[4]  Mir Alam soon found himself in quarrel with another Jamiat strongman, the commander of the North and Northeast Highway Police brigade turned 20th AMF Brigade, Abdul Khalil Andarabi. According to US government information, they competed for the control of drug traffic routes[5]. Since Andarabi and his influential father, Juma Khan, originated from this province, he apparently gathered more supporters and edged out Mir Alam.

From 2009 with the US military surge and the accompanying worsening security situation Shurai Nazar faction and Jamiat Islami also successfully used efforts to contain the Taliban to improve their own power position.

In 2010 the Americans enlisted Mir Alam among others to run the Arbaki programme in Kunduz. He received millions in cash and weapon in exchange for fighting the Taliban, which very often meant his political opponents.[6] Given military power without any political strain meant that Mir Alam men had a free rein in looting the villagers with impunity.

In September 2010, the appointments of two other famous commanders of Jamiat also affected the security set up in Kunduz. General Daud returned as 303rd Pamir Police Zone commander to the north. The charismatic Sayedkheli became the Kunduz provincial chief of police. He had gained a legendary reputation in Shura-ye Nazar as the defender of his home area, Shomali near Kabul, against Taliban and Pakistani forces in the late 1990s. In Kunduz, Sayedkheli successfully sidelined the mayor of Kunduz City, Mohammad Ghulam Farhad, a Pashtoon who supported Taliban in the 1990s.

Bismillah, Daud, and Sayedkheli  all Shurai Nizar of Jamiat acted as trio in fighting the Taliban in Kunduz. From his ministerial position, Bismillah provided 1,125 ALP positions for the organisational chart (tashkeel) of the province in addition to the original 1,810 regular ANP officers. Of these ALP positions, 300 each went to Chahar Dara, Dasht-e Archi, and Imam Sahib, while Kunduz district received 225. In Kunduz, Sayedkheli therefore could use the ALP positions to establish a clientele. Mir Alam’s force, which was mainly in Khanabad, was not integrated. Since no complaints by him are known, it seems that he preferred to remain in the NDS-operated Arbaki programme. Nabi Gechi on the other hand, who had fought previously against Shura-ye Nazar got nothing.

In October 2010, Sayedkheli negotiated successfully with Taleban leaders in who had previously fought on the insurgents’ side. He persuaded them with positive incentives – assets in the form of ALP positions and goods from the internationally funded Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) to ‘reintegrate’ insurgents – and with threats – such as bringing down the wrath of the mighty US army on them. These successful negotiations allowed Sayedkheli’s ANP and US infantry forces, together with militias led by Mir Alam and another Shurai Nizar subcommander Nawid, to recapture Aliabad and the south of Chahar Dara district in October and November 2010.

The US surge of 2010 and the Afghan militia campaign delivered a serious blow to the Taliban in Kunduz; after 2010, they did not control significant territory anymore. However, they continued to exist as an armed group and successfully changed their strategy, refocusing on clandestine operations.

[1] A political and military organisation that is expanding since the demise of the monarchy.  A Tanzim is a conglomerate of local commanders who are loose loyal to the organization for foreign support and balancing regional power structure.

[2] Soviets Complying On Afghan Withdrawal, U.S. Says, August 16, 1988|By Thom Shanker, Chicago Tribun

[3] Schetter and Glassner, ‘Neither Functioning, nor Failing . . .’, [see FN 5], 145
[4] Radio Afghanistan, ‘Commander Surrenders Weapons in Afghan North’, BBC Monitoring South Asia, 25 June 2005; Stapleton, ‘Disarming the Militias . . .’, [see FN 123], 7–8.
[5] US Embassy Kabul, ‘Kunduz Politics . . .’, [see FN 142]
[6] Commander Rauf of the Ibrahimi family of Hezbi Islami Tanzim integrated surrendered Taliban fighters into his force and occupied the old fortress of Kunduz, Bala Hisar. Mir Alam group called in US warplane and bombed the fortress. Rauf had to move from his position, which was immediately taken by Mir Alam’s men.  Interview with police officer and former fighter of Jamiat, Kunduz, December 2012; International Crisis Group, ‘Disarmament and Reintegration . . .’, [see FN 72], 10

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An analysis of the deteriorating Security in Kunduz Province

situation summary

Since 2013 anti government forces are mounting pressure to capture an entire province outside the volatile south and east; thousands of anti government fighters has been battling Afghan forces for the control of Kunduz. Major fighting took place around 23 April 2015 and 28 September 2015. Since early 2015 Afghan officials have said that several areas of Kunduz Province have been under the jihadist control, giving them positions from which to besiege Kunduz city - including positions to the south of the city where the strategic Kunduz Airport is located[1]. The Jihadist captured the provincial capital on the 28 September 2015.

Taliban forces assaulted the districts of Imam Sahib, Aliabad, and Qala-i-Zal as well as areas in Kunduz city in April 2015. The chief of Kunduz’s provincial council claimed that “about 2,000 heavily-armed insurgents attacked” the district centre in Imam Sahib, and that contact with more than 500 Afghan security personnel in the district has been lost, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.[2] The Taliban has released a videotape on its website showing the group in control of Imam Sahib after the fighting and displays a large some of weapons, vehicles and security forces captured by Jihadists. The film shows inside the military bases that now seem to be in Taliban control.[3]

Since the beginning of 2015 the head of the provincial council estimated that more than 65 percept of the province is under Taliban control. The governor of Mohammad Omar Safi told RFERL that this is going to be a very tough fight for them without the combat support of NATO.  The power structure and politics of Kunduz led to the fall of a major city into the Jihadist hands.

I argue this is directly related to US priority to wage punitive war against remnant of Taliban that ignored dynamics of politics in Afghan countryside as well as undermined the Afghan state that should have been its key ally. The US allied itself with local strongmen particularly those affiliated with Northern Alliance, staunch opponent of Taliban, in exchange for rewards and power. The US recruited a network of spies and mercenaries whom often sought to settle old scores with their rivals using the US war machine. Pashtuns as well as Tajiks and Uzbeks who were not aligned with Northern Alliance perceived this as another proof that the Northern Alliance has got Americans in their pockets, which hindered the creation of a broad base national government. 

Some of the strongmen militia were institutionalised under programmes such as Arbaki and Afghan Local Police. This approach was widely condemned by Afghans and international community due to a track record of human rights abuse by the militia. Irregular Militia is not an alternative to the state bound by the rule of law and aimed at furthering population wellbeing. The militia have a loose command structure and serves the interests of local strongmen; they lack training, vetting, oversight and accountability.  They generally live of the population and use fear and brutality to impose its authority.[4]  This oppression is misconceived as effective counterinsurgency and stability while in reality it impeded reconciliation and caused further community fragmentation that eventually led to full-blown hostilities.

in posts to come I will continue the analysis of the situation. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Refugees are the greatest existentialist challenge for the EU

Hungarian Camera woman is the tip of the iceberg. Eastern Europe emerged from along history of Fascism and Communism as homogenous countries and was integrated into the EU without redesigning the educational system to promote pluralism. Eastern Europeans respect and revere the West for their wealth and higher culture and have been the beneficial of hundreds of billions of funds and free movement. Social tension with the West was not a probability since the West was not their counterpart. The west turned a blind eye on their treatment of minorities such as Russians in the Baltic and Roma in the southern parts most of who fled and were offered asylum in the West. Instead of reforming their education system to root out xenophobia and racism by promoting human rights and equality they have tried to whip nationalism and religious revivalism. In this political climate the refugees are seen as marauders who will undermine their social fabric and not as individuals with dignity who deserve our respect. The influx of refugees who come from different ethnic and religious background poses the greatest challenge to the EU as the Eastern part is not willing to take part in any EU wide plan to help.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Refugee Crisis and the greater malaise of the West

Yes please, I will take in a refugee and house them in my home. But also Lets be clear that it’s a collective responsibility to look after the vulnerable fellow humans in extreme condition. That collective responsibility has been delegated to the governments as the body that represents our collective wishes. The failure of the government to show resolve and strength demonstrates lack of leadership and efficacy. 

Just how dire is Western leadership?
The greatest service to refugees of all possible sources came from Victor Orban. His action on forcing refugees to camps, stopping them from travelling and erecting border fence along with comments like “Hungarians have the right to live without Muslims” galvanized public support for refugees at a time when one of the main rhetoric of Western governments is “immigration control”.  Civic activism and magnanimity forced Western governments to do something.

Leadership has degenerated into public management. Government has digressed to be only concerned with bureaucracy due to a lack of visionary leadership. Almost everything in social life is produced by rare but consequential shocks and changes; all the while almost everything studied focuses on the “Normal” in tune with the populous temperament that tell close to nothing. Democratic populism ignores the changing world, cannot handle the, yet makes us confident that we have tamed uncertainty.  The nature of social phenomena can only be understood in severe circumstance, not under the regular rosy glow of daily life. Can you assess the danger a criminal poses by examining only what he does on an ordinary day? Can we understand health without considering wild diseases and epidemics? Indeed the normal is often irrelevant.

Focusing on the “normal” means the government is represented on most issues by the vocal part of the society that includes the immigration debate. The anti immigration lobby happens to be xenophobic which makes government policies sinister and particularly unfair on the immigrants. 

Friday, September 04, 2015

Legal routes for Refugees to reach Europe

Germany is adopting a very moral compassionate position. However there simply isn't the public support for taking in tens of thousands of refugees in the UK. is there any alternative routes for people to reach Europe, some have argued that the UK should offer visas to highly skilled Syrians eg nurses doctors computer engineers etc. This could be sold as offering benefits to both the UK and the people concerned. Its hard to see why such professionals would come to the UK lack of social support and stringent visa controls while they can be free of immigration control in more supportive countries like Germany. such social support include child care, working family support, housing and education all of which are abysmal and withheld all together from working families who come from war torn countries.

I came to the UK on a skill visa from Afghanistan; after investing half a million pounds, creating numerous jobs for British citizens and paying tens of thousands into the public purse I face the prospect of being removed from the UK. The government this year introduced more requirements in order to qualify for stay such retrospective rules are against the rule of law yet contrary to Phil Woolas assertion I can not find legal help to initiate a judicial review. The official line of Home Office is to “control” the number of immigrants in response to concern expressed by British people through democratic processes in practice this has turned into oppressing minority by popular demand. 

The system suffers from a lack of visionary leadership, xenophobia and short-sightedness. Refugees have protection and the government cannot remove their status in response to popular demand but those who work are a toy for making political gestures. the proof is the immigration website where you will find constant and relentless stream of judicial decisions showing the vast numbers of errors which occur by the Home Office; transitional provisions regarding immigration rules ignored, policies not taken into account, ambiguous rules inconsistently applied, children or dependents not considered properly, judicial precedents ignored.

The system is broken because it does not recognise my circumstances. I am invested in the UK, my children are born and raised here; a war is raging in Afghanistan and apart from being born there I have no real connection to it. Yet I am constant threatened with removal by unfair rules. There is a divorce between the values the British society espouse to hold and the immigration system.