Abbas Daiyar, a member of the Editorial Board at Daily Outlook Afghanistan has written a good piece about arming tribal militias in Afghanistan. I maintain that listening to the Afghans on this issue is very important. As Mr. Daiyar points out, what worked in Iraq is not necessarily the solution in Afghanistan.
The change of tactic vision was also under discussion among circles. Seeing the success story in Iraq, the US decided to try the Anbar Module in Afghanistan. Which in my previous articles, I have been articulating that it would result vice versa. Afghanistan is not Iraq therefore; similarities of insurgency should not be a justification for a similar military strategy. Iraqi society is merely divided on sectarian bases while Afghanistan’s is ethnic and clannish. Here tribalism plays vital. After political circles and media strongly opposed the idea of arming local militias against Taliban, the stakeholders in Afghanistan decided to launch the militia idea under another label maybe “pilot program”.
So it appears that even the Afghans realize that Afghanistan is not Iraq. Perhaps we should listen to them. There are some very good reasons not to rearm militias that have been so painfully disarmed in Afghanistan.
Here is another point from Mr. Daiyar that helps keep me from feeling alone:
Interior Minister, Hanif Atmar said this is a “Public Protection Police” which would a semi-paramilitary type force against insurgents. He said “in its first unit, youth from insurgent areas would be chosen by community elders.” How a Government police force is it that personnel are being chosen by community elders? Who are community elders to choose Police operating under Interior Ministry? Was there a real need of such a force when already our National Police is fighting Taliban?
Before arming tribal militias, we should do everything possible to work with and mentor the ANP. We have not done this with anywhere near the vigor required before giving up on them to arm locals. Anbar is a far cry from Wardak.