News / Asia

Tribal Dispute in Afghanistan Benefits Taliban

Warring tribes rely on Taliban insurgents to support deadly feuds

Afghan men from the Shinwari tribe stand near burning firewood set up as road blockade during a protest over a land dispute in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, August 10, 2011.
Afghan men from the Shinwari tribe stand near burning firewood set up as road blockade during a protest over a land dispute in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, August 10, 2011.
Bethany Matta

After 10 years at war, coalition forces are still struggling to bring peace to Afghanistan.

In some places, the effort is being undermined by tribal rivalries that draw away attention and resources.

Dominating tribes

The main road that runs through Achin district of Afghanistan is closed to all traffic except border police. It is near the vital highway that links Pakistan’s Khyber Pass to the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The Shinwari tribe dominates Achin and two sub-tribes, the Sepai and Ali Sher Khel, live on either side of the road.

They are at war with each other.

Defense

During the day, tribesmen guard their territory. At night, they hide behind rock mounds that cover the land and fight.

Sayeed Hakim from the Ali Sher Khel tribe says that, because of the fighting, they have moved many of their women and children out of the area.

He says when we sit here in our village; we sit close to the walls where our animals are. We take cover with these walls. We find a place where the bullets cannot hit us directly.

The dispute has gone on for years, but has escalated in recent months.

Malik Mahamoud is a tribal leader from Sepal who says just yesterday tribal leaders said that if the fighting continues, the insurgents will use it to their advantage, undermining security and attacking coalition forces.

Conflict

In January 2010, Achin did not appear headed for conflict. The Shinwari tribe had pledged to support the Afghan government, oppose the Taliban and ban opium growing. In return, U.S. commanders pledged $200,000 for small development projects and promised an additional $1 million for future projects.

To try to minimize corruption, the senior U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan decided to disperse the aid through the local government and fund projects approval by a tribal shura.

But bypassing the central government drew complaints from senior Afghan officials who argued it undermined the Karzai administration. The U.S. State Department later drafted a policy prohibiting officials from working with tribes. The promised aid was never distributed.

Since the pact fell apart, all schools in Achin have closed, the only clinic has shut its doors and the local bazaar is deserted.

Taliban

While some tribal leaders say despite their dispute, they are continuing to keep out the Taliban, others concede they are accepting help from insurgents.

An Ali Sher Khel tribesman, who asked not to be named because he fears retribution for speaking out, says the Shinwari’s reliance on the Taliban boils down to money.

He says when there is fighting we have to buy weapons. Our harvest just lies in the field because we cannot collect it peacefully. He says we are losing money and because of the dispute, we have contact with the Afghan Taliban. They help financially and with weapons.

The ongoing fighting is draining critical resources away from other missions. Some 600 Afghan police protecting the border area near Pakistan are now in Achin trying to contain the violence.

General Aminullah Amerkhil, the border police commander in eastern Afghanistan, says there are powerful forces behind the land dispute. On one hand, the dispute is a political issue and, on the other, the Taliban have taken advantage of the situation. The Taliban is not only threatening Jalalabad, he says, but the entire eastern region of Afghanistan.

Members of the Sepai and Ali Sher Khel tribes say they want the government to resolve their differences, but little is being done. Both sides threaten to join the insurgents if the government does not step in. But, for now, they continue fighting and the Taliban keeps encouraging them.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More