Local Uprisings in Afghanistan


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Afghan War News > Events > Local Uprisings in Afghanistan


There are numerous reports of local uprisings against the Taliban taking place in Afghanistan. There is also a lot of confusion about what this means - with many interpretations on the causes and long-term effects of these uprisings. Some optimistic observers are hoping that these "popular uprisings" will diminish support for the Taliban and extend Afghan central government influence into Taliban areas. Others have adopted a more pragmatic view that these anti-Taliban movements are purely local and have little to do with supporting the Afghan government.

Tired of the Taliban.  A common theme associated with these local uprisings are rural villagers no longer willing to tolerate the Taliban living and operating in their areas. The Taliban are a rough crowd with abusive tendencies and unusual positions on women holding jobs, girls going to school or to medical clinics, and intimidating Afghan villagers to support their movement and operations.

Tired of the Karzai Regime As Well. Just because a group of villages unite against the Taliban does not mean that it supports the central Afghan government. In most cases the people opposing the Taliban are just as disenchanted with the corrupt and predatory central government and its' inability to provide services and security.

"This is Not the Anbar Awakening You are Looking For". Some observers have mistakenly equated these local uprisings to the "Anbar Awakening" that took place in a Sunni area in Iraq.  However, the uprisings are not an 'awakening'.

Local Nature of Uprisings. There is a reason why these uprisings are call "local".  The uprisings thus far have been local instances across eastern Afghanistan and not tied into any specific region, tribe, ethnic group, religion, or ideology. There are no indications that these uprisings are connected in any way in a larger scheme. At the most, an uprising in one village will spread to other villages in the immediate area.

Ghazni Uprising. One of the better known local uprisings against the Taliban in Afghanistan is the one that recently took place in May of 2012 in the Andar district of Ghazni province located south of Kabul in eastern Afghanistan. This uprising in Ghazni province has been called both the "Andar Uprising" and the "Ghazni Uprising". The uprising spread from Andar district to adjacent districts in Ghazni province - Moqor, Qarabagh, Dehyak, and others. This uprising was named the "National Uprising Movement".

The Ghazni uprising reportedly has splintered into three separate groups. One group is comprised of loyalists to an NDS chief called Assadullah Khaled, a second group is comprised of Hezb-e Islami members, and a third group is joining the Afghan Local Police. 1.

The Ghazni government officials are attempting to merge the Ghazni militias into the Afghan Uniform Police (AUP) or the Afghan Local Police (ALP); however the militia members are resisting that arrangment. The militia members cite many reasons; one of the the publics distrust of corrupt and inept Afghan police members. 6.

Logar Uprising. The area just north of Pul-e 'Alam, Logar province is seeing the beginnings of a "local uprising". This movement developed in the Spring of 2013 and seems to be sustaining itself. Many of its followers have been incorporated into the Afghan Local Police but others remain independent of the ALP and continue to stay in their independent Anti-Taliban Movement. This movement was started by Farhad Akbari 5. in the area around the village of Kolanger - just north of Pul-e 'Alam.

 Panjewai Uprising. The local uprising that took place in Panjwai district, Kandarhar province in the spring of 2013 started when the Taliban embarrassed a village elder.

Afghan Government Response. The central government's response to these local uprisings is mixed. In some cases the government will support the uprising either overtly or covertly (usually through the National Security Directorate or NDS). In other cases it will simply ignore the uprising - seemingly not caring if the uprising survives or is crushed by the Taliban. Certainly there are reasons for this uneven support and as in all things in Afghanistan it comes down to a complicated combination of factors to include politics, corruption, and ineffectiveness. There are some indications that the Afghan government (probably through the NDS) is supporting some local uprisings through the People's Uprising Program.

Lack of Local Government Support. In some instances, it is suspected that local District Governors and District Chiefs of Police do not provide support to local uprisings because the government officials (at the local level) have ties to the Taliban.

ISAF Response. The ISAF response has been to have a "hands-off" approach.  Although ISAF is very interested in the uprisings it seems to have adopted a position that these uprisings are for the Afghan central government to handle. ISAF probably recognizes that the offering of support to the uprising leaders could taint the reputation of the leaders of the uprising and cause it to falter due to strong anti-coalition feelings in many areas where the uprisings are taking place.

Integration Into Afghan Local Police. There are some instances where members of a group that rose up against the Taliban have been recruited into the Afghan Local Police (ALP). Reportedly this has happened in Logar and Ghazni province in the fall of 2012 as well as Gizab in 2010. Many groups openly ask to be incorporated into the ALP but the Karzai regime has been slow to adopt this measure on a large scale (although it certainly should take advantage of this situation). To some observers the Karzai government was less concerned about defeating the Taliban and more concerned about the political landscape associated with districts that are authorized ALP.

Earlier Revolts Against the Taliban - Gizab District in 2010. The concept of local villagers revolting against the Tailban is not new. Similar revolts have taken place in earlier years. For example, the district of Gizab in Oruzgan province was the scene of such a revolt in April 2010.  2. Shortly after the revolt U.S. Army Special Forces sent a small detachment to train the local fighters. 3. Once ISAF began its downsizing in 2013 and 2014 support from the coalition for the Afghan Local Police program diminished and SOF teams aligned as advisors and trainers to the ALP units were pulled away. This had an adverse affect on some of the ALP units to include the Gizab district ALP. 7.

Some Local Uprisings Fade Away. There is a history of local uprisings catching the media's attention and providing moments of hope for ISAF - only to see these local revolts against the Taliban fade away. The Afghan government can't seem to get it right - various officials at the district, provincial, and national level are impeded by politics, corruption, and general ineffectiveness. ISAF, other than putting a SOF team (there are a limited number of SOF teams) into the local area to conduct VSO and form ALP, has not developed a sound and timely plan to capitalize on local uprisings.


News Reports of Local Uprisings in Afghanistan

September 15, 2016. "Afghanistan's Anti-Taliban Vigilantes: Blessing or Curse?", by Franz J. Marty, The Diplomat. A report of a local defense group formed in Raghistan district, Badakhshan province to ward off the insurgents.

May 24, 2015. "Afghans Form Militias and Call on Warlords to Battle Taliban". The New York Times. The increasing threat by the Taliban and increased casualties suffered by the ANSF have prompted calls for private armed groups to be formed.

May 6, 2015. "Villagers Rise Up Against Militants". Radio Free Europe. Villagers in Sar-e-Pol are tired of waiting for government forces to protect and are defending themselves.

February 26, 2015. "Afghan government supports popular uprisings against Taliban". Central Asia Online. Local group in Kandahar enjoys provinicial support.

July 23, 2014. "A US-backed militia runs amok in Afghanistan". Aljazeera America. An anti-taliban movement (ATM) in Andar district, Ghazni province comes under scruntiny.

August 5, 2013. "Afghan Local Militias Demand Support". Institute for War & Peace Reporting. Locally-raised paramilitaries in Ghazni province say they will stop fighting the Taleban unless the government provides them with weapons and payment.

July 12, 2013. "Anti-Taliban Movement Gaining Strength in Afghanistan, US Says". The Washington Free Beacon. New uprisings against Taliban reported in Uruzgan and Nangarhar. Many "uprisings" may simply be local powerbrokers expanding their influence and increasing their ability to reap the benefits of corruption.

June 3, 2013. "Missing context on the tribal 'Awakening' in Panjwai". Threat Matrix.

June 1, 2013. "One man's defiance inspires a region to stand up to the Taliban". Los Angeles Times. Info on the anti-Taliban movement in Zangabad, Panjwai district.

April 19, 2013. "Militants kill 13 Afghan pro-government fighters". BBC News.

April 10, 2013. "Success in Taliban stronghold might not be lasting". Stars and Stripes. Report on local resistance to Taliban in Panjwai district, Kandarhar.

April 2, 2013. "The Morphing of the Andar Uprising: Transition to Afghan Local Police". Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN).

March 20, 2013. "Villagers Take on Taliban in Their Heartland". The New York Times. Villagers in Panjwai district are fed up with the Taliban.

March 13, 2013. "Commander encouraged by anti-Taliban uprising in heavily contested area of Kandahar province". Panjwai villagers face off with Taliban. Fox.

February 12, 2013. "Afghan villagers rise up against Taliban in south". New Strait Times.

October 30, 2012. The Andar Uprising - Co-opted, divided and stuck in a dilemma. By Emal Habib, Afghanistan Analyst Network.

October 18, 2012. U.S. Hope for DIY Insurgency Against Taliban. Huffington Post.

October 5, 2012. Opinion: The 'Andar Uprising' and Progress in Afghanistan. By Kimberly and Frederick Kagan, Institute for the Study of War.

September 12, 2012. An 'Afghan Summer' of Revolt. The Afghan Channel, Foreign Policy.

September 12, 2102. The anatomy of an anti-Taliban uprising. The AFPAK Channel, Foreign Policy.

September 3, 2012. The Andar Uprising - Has The Tide Already Turned? By Emal Habib, Afghanistan Analysts Network.

August 25, 2012. Ragtag Revolts in Parts of Afghanistan Repel Taliban. The New York Times.

August 23, 2012. Afghan Villagers Hit Back Against Taliban. Radio Free Europe.

August 14, 2012. Armed uprising against Taliban forces insurgents from 50 Afghan villages. The Telegraph.

August 10, 2012. Who fights whom in the Andar Uprising? By Emal Habib, Afghanistan Analysts Network.

August 5, 2012. Afghan citizens standing up to Taliban seek support. USA Today.

July 27, 2013. "The Afghan Awakening". The Washington Free Beacon. Although the words "Afghan awakening" are not quite fitting this article does provide some info on the many local uprisings that are taking place in Afghanistan.

June 25, 2012. Tired of the Taliban. The Daily Beast.

June 24, 2010. The revolt of the good guys in Gizab. Afghanistan Analysts Network.

June 21, 2010. U.S. eager to replicate Afghan villagers' successful revolt against Taliban. The Washington Post.

 

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Endnotes

1. For more information about the splintering of the Ghazni uprising see The Andar Uprising - Co-opted, divided and stuck in a dilemma, by Emal Habib, Afghanistan Analyst Network, October 30, 2012. Article can be accessed here.

2. See a news article by The Washington Post on this Afghan villagers revolt in Gizab here.

3. For more info on the Gizab revolt see the entry "Gizab District" in Wikipedia here.

4. See "Once-Touted Afghan Force Falls on Hard Times", The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2013 here. Article on the fate of local uprising in Andar district, Ghazni.

5. See "Engineer-turned-militia leader takes on Taliban", The Washington Post, June 3, 2013 for more on the Logar province militia and Farhad Akbari here.

6. For more information about the Ghazni uprisings and lack of ISAF and Afghan government support see the August 5, 2013 news story entitled "Afghan Local Militias Demand Support" posted on the website of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

7. For more on adverse effects of pulling SOF teams off ALP units (as in Gizab district) see "Taliban return to Afghan town that rose up and drove out its leaders", The Guardian, October 27, 2014. View here.

 


 


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