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Who are the militants in Afghanistan?


Oct 13, 2006
Who are the militants in Afghanistan?
By Pam O'Toole
BBC News

Taleban fighters
The Taleban are leading the insurgency

There has been a huge increase in violent attacks in Afghanistan in recent months, particularly in the south where Nato forces are helping the Afghan government to extend its authority.

The government blames most of the violence on what it calls "enemies of Afghanistan" - shorthand for the Taleban and their al-Qaeda allies.

Both groups appear to be stronger than they have been since before the fall of the Taleban administration in 2001.

Pakistan continues to deny Afghan allegations that it is sheltering and aiding the Taleban.

But it is becoming increasingly difficult to establish with any certainty who is behind some of the violence and exactly who supports the insurgency.

As far as we can tell, it's elements of the old Taleban leadership who are at the forefront of what is happening now
Paul Rogers,
Bradford University

The top UN envoy for Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, recently alleged that the Taleban and their al-Qaeda allies were being backed by foreign money and terror networks.

But he also said the insurgency includes the children of Afghan refugees who have been educated in Pakistani religious schools or madrassas, as well as young men from Afghanistan with few prospects.

'Diverse' Taleban

Some say the Taleban's current strength stems partly from their intimidation of the local population, but also from the fact they can pay young Afghan men more than the Afghan army can pay them.

The remnants of a car after a suicide car bomb attack near Kabul
The militants are behind a spate of suicide attacks

However, the situation remains murky and complex, as Paul Rogers of Bradford University explains.

"As far as we can tell, it's elements of the old Taleban leadership who are at the forefront of what is happening now. But they are overseeing a very diffuse group.

"Many of them would describe themselves as adherents to the Taleban outlook, but it includes people who are essentially allied to local warlords.

"It certainly includes small landowners who are concerned about losing their capacity to grow opium poppies because of the eradication campaigns that are on."

The Taleban's offers to protect farmers from eradication campaigns will have boosted their popularity in major poppy-growing provinces like Helmand.

Shifting allegiances

The powerful drugs trade is undoubtedly intertwined with the current violence.

Afghan police eradicate poppy fields
The insurgency is closely linked to opium growing

Local power holders who feel marginalised may find themselves allied to the Taleban, at least in the short term.

In some areas it's difficult to distinguish between attacks by the Taleban and those by other radical Islamic groups or individuals.

These include Hezb-e Islami, headed by former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, or those loyal to Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former mujahideen leader who also served in the Taleban government.

The situation is further complicated by a complex web of shifting allegiances, tribal, ethnic and local rivalries and feuds within Afghan society.

Afghans have been known to denounce rivals or enemies as members of the Taleban for political or economic gain.



Mar 31, 2007
Yes, exactly who are the militants!
This is one of the reason why Afghan war will never be a success with out proper local cultural knowledge.
In my life I have never travelled beyond Islamabd but I can tell that western concept of militant does not apply in Aghnistan at all.
One can not simply go out there and start killing all carrying guns or Bazukas.
Infact it works opposite if you are a westner and you carry gun around than it is you who is considered as agressors.
I can tell it would be impossible to clear Afghanistan from militants simply because every one out there is a militant.
One has to kill all the population to acheive so.
Every military endevour by foriegn troops simply complex the situation more, as one can clearly see in the article.
Only country I see, which can help to restrain the situation is Pakistan and its success against al-qaeeda and foreign elements is a loud evidence.
It will be interesting to see how many more years NATO will be fighting taliban and again who those talibans would be? the guys who didn't turn over Bin-laden?


Mar 31, 2007
I post some extracts of a report from Kabul, It was a lengthy report and can be read by following the link given in the end.

Seth G. Jones, of the U.S.-based think tank RAND Corporation, who visited Kandahar early this year, says...
Even a record number of Western forces will find it difficult to counter the militants` influence in Afghanistan, a country about 50 percent bigger than Iraq. And Afghanistan`s history of aversion to foreign intervention also suggests that a prolonged military presence could backfire - like the Soviet occupation of the 1980s.

"Only the Afghan government can win this battle, which is primarily political. If we fight a colonial war, we lose," says Barnett R. Rubin, an Afghanistan expert at New York University....

"The will to fight is really here. I didn`t find that in Iraq," says Maj. Christopher Clay, of St. Louis, deputy commander of the NATO task force in the province. "I trained 700 Iraqis but when it came time to fight in Fallujah, only 300 went with me. The rest melted away. Here in Afghanistan, if I ask for 150 soldiers, I get 150."

NATO officers, however, say many problems still confront the Afghan army. Soldiers go into battle on unarmored pickup trucks and carrying hand-me-down weaponry. Commanders lack experience in large-unit operations. Retaining the low-paid troops is difficult and their numbers are still too few.....

But even a formidable Afghan army, backed by a beefed-up NATO, is unlikely to suppress the insurgency in the foreseeable future.

"We know the military solution alone just won`t work," Collins says....

A recent survey by the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, describing 2007 as "the breaking point," concluded that Afghans were losing trust in their government....



Oct 3, 2005
United States
I dont think there will be any win for the coalation forces. Their plan is just to stay there, and have an strategic base, and as long as it is there, it will help Pakistan to get an international attention.

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