The essential companion to follow the complex events in Afghanistan as they unfold - includes reports on the main warlords and a map of the territory held by them, as well as other key descriptive material. There is much complacency in many quarters about the prospects of pacifying Afghanistan through the creation of a new, non-partisan army. There is a widening gap between rhetoric and reality. This special report looks at the problem of creating and maintaining an effective regular army in Afghanistan to prevent a recurrence of a situation whereby the Taliban originally came to power.
There is little sense of an Afghan unity among the majority of the population. The loyalty of the troops rested with their village, if not with their ethnic group or tribe. The interim government appeared to have accepted the 60,000 figure for the size of the army, if for no other reason that international donors were not willing to make funding available for a larger army. In fact it is proving difficult to raise enough money even for the more modest 60,000-strong army, despite the fact that its cost is estimated at a relatively manageable US$422 million for the first year. With regard to appointments in the army, for example, General Fahim chose 38 generals in February, to constitute the command structure of the army. Of them, 37 are Tajiks and one is Uzbek.
The wilful exclusion of Pashtuns, the majority ethnic group in the country, is surely stirring up trouble for the future and even threatens the possibility of a revived Pashtun-backed party emerging, a potential re-run of some of the circumstances in which the Taliban suddenly emerged on the scene. The next few months will be crucial to the establishment of a truly national army. Once the structure that is being created now will have been consolidated, it will be too late to reform it.
While this type of army might be suitable as long as a foreign contingent is available to support it and most of all as long as strong air support is forthcoming, the longer-term prospects are more doubtful. Unless the situation becomes completely stabilised before the attention of the world is diverted by some other crisis, trouble might resurface at a later stage. SHOW LESS READ MORE >
Afghanistan Political Map 2002
Afghanistan Map showing Areas controlled by Warlords and Political Factions, April 2002
The Movers and Shakers
Factional alignments as of April 2002
Rabbani, Royalists, Dostum, Panjsheris, Hizb-i Wahdat
Parties, Factions and Groups in April 2002
Description and estimated military strengths
Table: Major ethnic groups in Afghanistan
The army under the monarchy
The communist period: before the Soviet occupation
The communist period: under the Soviet occupation
The communist period: after the Soviet occupation
The armed forces of the Taleban
Underlying problems of forming a national army in Afghanistan
The Political-military picture in April 2002
Abdul Rashid Dostum - The eponymous warlord?
Ismael Khan: an Iranian puppet?
The legacy of Jamlat-i Islami's Massud - Respectable warlords?
Hizb-i Wahdat - A people's party?
The Pashtun warlords of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan
The warlords in the Afghanistan of tommorrow
Towards a real national army?
The initial debate
Theory and practice
The process gets started
'A brief window of opportunity'