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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs