Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, May 29th, 2020

A glance at durability of war in Afghanistan

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A glance at durability of war in Afghanistan

Undoubtedly, the conflict of Afghanistan is one of the longest conflicts in the world which has inflicted the most tragic consequences in the country. The prolonged war of Afghanistan has not only destroyed the lives and economy of people but also forced millions of people abandon their home country for ever. Nevertheless, there is no clear definition and analysis for the reasons and durability of war in the country. Undeniably, a clear understanding or diagnosis of the problem will help us to give a right prescription for the chronic problem in the future. Therefore, this article is going to explain the factors of long conflicts in the country.
Apparently, the current conflict of Afghanistan has three sides: Taliban, Afghan government, and the US-led international forces; however, there have always been disagreement over which of the three groups are the main side. Thus, there is also an unanswered question why the Taliban has always been at odds with the government.  What is the real goal and position of Taliban?  To find a clear response to this question, we use the theory of conflict factors presented by Dan Smith, a famous peace researcher; Dan Smith introduces four types of factors for a conflict: background factors; mobilizing factors; driving factors and intensifying factors. The theory framework helps us to understand the durability of conflict and find a suitable road map for political resolution.
As pointed out, the first conflict factor is background factor which refers to social, national, political and economic disorders that disrupt the normal interaction of social groups and cause conflict. the systematic discrimination against a social group by the government, the deliberate deprivation of a social group from access to public resources and political power, and the deliberate marginalization of a geographical area from political and economic advantages are of the background factors behind the conflicts. In the other word, we have two types of peace: social and political peace. The main components of social peace are social justice and equality under a nondiscriminatory political system.
The more than forty years of war in Afghanistan has activated many of the social, racial and religious gaps in Afghanistan. At the current situation, there is no one to analyze the politics of Afghanistan without concept of ethnicity, religion, language and political orientation in Afghanistan. The feelings of “injustice” and “being oppressed” are important factors in an uprising. As for the Taliban, since they are affiliated with the Pashtun people, after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, they did not have a significant role in the post-Taliban political order. One of the biggest mistakes of Bonne conference seems to be the same issue when the Taliban was ignored as a political group.
In addition, many of Pashtuns’ homes were bombed, abused, politically marginalized and their dignity violated in last two decades. When the government cannot protect the lives and property of its citizens the sense of ethnicity is intensified and the motives for joining criminal groups are strengthened. In such a condition not only the terrorist groups can successfully recruit the jobless and unsatisfied people but also the racial and religious gaps are easily misused in a country.   From outside it seems that Taliban are fighting to represent the Pashtun people, but the tribal disagreements and tribal deprivation among pashtun affiliated tribes are one the main factors that make them resist against the government. For example, it is said that a large number of the warlord tribal leaders were united with Hamid Karzai but Joined the Taliban because they were politically marginalized. Therefore, the Taliban insurgency can be partly attributed to the tribal division and marginalization, especially in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan.
The second conflict factor is mobilizing factor. The mobilization factor is rooted in the goals and ideology of the parties involved in the war. In the study area of this article, Afghanistan, as Taliban say, the main cause of the conflict is “foreign aggression and interference”. In justifying the conflict, the Taliban use the religious concepts and symbols such as Mujahideen, Islamic system, martyrdom and jihad. In explaining the reason of ongoing conflict, they use mix of political and religious reasons. For the Taliban, “occupation of Afghanistan” is the political cause of the war and the fall of an “Islamic system” is the religious cause of the war. According to articles which are published by the official website of Taliban, the war is justified by Islamic principles. The third conflict factor is conflict driving factor. It refers to a series of events that trigger the riot. In the other word, the background factors refer to factors which potentially exist but the driving factor is like a fire which inflames the already accumulated fuels. In fact, the Taliban resistance against government had two main reasons: firstly, the Islamic radical faction within the Taliban group had problems with the political order after the Bonn Conference. They wanted war in order to establish a religious government in the country. Another reason was rejection of reconciliation which was requested by Taliban. The Bush administration had rejected at least three request of Taliban for reconciliation. Under the Bush administration’s policy, the Taliban were part of the “international armed fighters” that Washington saw them as enemies. The Bush administration wanted to prosecute Taliban leaders and commanders who were accused of having links with al-Qaeda. This inflexible policy against the Taliban triggered an uprising movement in Afghanistan.
The last factor is aggravating factors that intensifies the conflict and prolong the war. The example for intensifying factors can be lack of good governance, administrative corruption, unemployment, corruption in justice system and so on. So, the four mentioned factors may provide a response to question why Taliban resisted for nearly 19 years in Afghanistan. Now, in order not to repeat the 2001 in 2020 we need to consider all these factors in the new chapter of peace process in the country.

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