News / Asia

Analysts: Ethnic, Political Divisions Pose Threat to Afghan Peace

Afghan soldiers wait before the handover ceremony between French army and ANA (Afghan National Army) at the forward operational base of Nijrab as part of the withdrawal of the French troops November 20, 2012.
Afghan soldiers wait before the handover ceremony between French army and ANA (Afghan National Army) at the forward operational base of Nijrab as part of the withdrawal of the French troops November 20, 2012.
Sharon Behn
As the 2014 draw-down of international combat troops in Afghanistan nears, a lot of attention has been focused on whether the Afghan army can secure the nation from extremist militant groups, such as the Taliban. But former government and military officials say ethnic divisions and political factions could be as big a threat to peace in the country.
 
The Afghan army is now some 184,000 strong. The police force numbers 146,000.
 
Relying on just the personnel count gives the impression that Afghan security forces are nearing the targets for being able to defend the country from extremist threats.
 
But former military and government officials are warning that the Taliban and terrorists are not the only threats Afghanistan will face in 2014. They say some ethnic warlords are starting to re-arm themselves for what could turn into an ugly fight for territory and influence.
 
These ethnic divisions, which analysts say exist in the government, the army and even provinces controlled by warlords, could prove disastrous.
 
"The fear is that after 2014 that the army will disband again, because there are different factions," noted Shir Khosti, the former governor of Ghazni province, "as most of these generals in the army are from the north, and now my understanding is that they are shifting heavy weapons to the north as well, and that is going to create a lot of problems in the future. [We] need to pay heed to these issues now, before it escalates to a level we cannot contain any more."
 
The Taliban are present in most of Afghanistan, but are most resilient among their ethnic Pashtun base in the south. In the north, commanders of the former Northern Alliance, comprising ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara, hold sway.
 
The head of Kabul's Military Training Center, Brig. Gen. Aminullah Patyani, says army recruits are a mix of all ethnic groups.

He says, Pashtun, Tajiks, Uzbek, Hazara, Pashaei, Noorestani, Baluch -- all the nationalities that make up the nation of Afghanistan, can come here, that is how we are training here.
 
After Soviet Union forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the country entered a brutal civil war, fought along largely ethnic lines.
 
But analysts say the situation in 2014 will not be the same. They point to more civic institutions and expectations that the American military will maintain a presence of some 10,000 personnel in the country. But also they caution that much will depend on how well the army sticks together to face the challenges ahead.
 
Khosti warns Pashtuns are underrepresented in the Afghan military, and army commanders tend to come from the north.
 
Political analyst Khalid Mafton adds that many in Afghanistan's security forces, as well as in the ministries of defense and interior, have been appointed based on their affiliations with particular political and ethnic groups, making them vulnerable to ethnic conflict once international troops leave.
 
Mafton said he is expecting the worst.
 
"If the United States leaves the country, this army, because of the reasons I mentioned, will definitely collapse, maybe not within days or weeks, maybe with in a month, maximum, ok, so who will be replacing them? The Taliban," he said.
 
Asked if he thought different groups in the country were beginning to stockpile weapons for possible conflict, Mafton's affirmation was an unequivocal "Yes."
 
After three decades of war, and a thriving black market thanks to opium sales, analysts say there are more than enough weapons in the country to go around.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid