Small Wars Journal

Thursday Afghanistan Twofer

Mullah as Insurgent: Social Mobility and God - Lieutenant Colonel J.J. Malevich, U.S. Army/U.S. Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center.

... Islam, piety, and the power of the mullah are important aspects of life and culture in Afghanistan and may have more to do with fueling and driving the insurgency than we have acknowledged to date. Our failure to recognize this and address this dynamic will ensure our failure in Afghanistan and the region. We are not facing a mere political power struggle which is fueled by poverty, but rather a social and religious struggle that is powered by nothing less than jihad. This jihad has the potential to be more powerful than any Afghan government or tribe. In fact, jihad is the hail-Mary play that could prove to be the game changer in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a pretty ordered and structured society. Power is divided between the government, landholders/tribes, and the mullahs, and there is a constant power struggle between these three entities. The government wants to tax the landowners/tribes. The tribes want to avoid taxes and government control and the Mullahs want to control the other two and establish an Islamic Emirate and eradicate Pashtun-wali traits of music and dancing...

More at The COIN Center.

Tribe and Prejudice: America's 'New Hope' in Afghanistan - Joshua Foust, The National.

... In the 48 months since the return of the Taliban, American planners have announced a series of new plans intended to reverse their momentum, without much evident success.

The latest of these initiatives - what the New York Times grandly called "America's New Hope" in Afghanistan - is an attempt to bribe local tribes into battling the insurgency alongside American forces. Despite public declarations that they are doing no such thing, the U.S. policy establishment clearly hopes to duplicate the Sunni Awakening in Afghanistan.

In an effort to showcase the Afghan version of an Iraqi grassroots rebellion, U.S. military commanders in far eastern Nangarhar province announced at the end of January that they would support one tribe, the Shinwari, in its fight against the Taliban, pledging $1 million in development aid for tribal leaders in exchange for their allegiance. Unlike the Iraqis in Anbar, however, the Shinwari do not support the central government - suggesting that this "tribal engagement" and others like it may have detrimental effects on the legitimacy and stability of the administration in Kabul...

More at The National.