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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid