Wednesday, 28 July 2010
In the fifth paper on Afghanistan from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Antonio Giustozzi takes a look at the composition of the Taliban in areas outside the Pashtun belt, from which it has traditionally recruited.
The Taliban beyond the Pashtuns argues that the Taliban has started making significant inroads among other ethnic groups and has coopted bandits and disgruntled militia commanders previously connected to other organisations. There is also some evidence of small groups of ideologically committed Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkmen from the north of the country joining the Taliban.
The Taliban is actively seeking to expand the conflict to northern and other remote areas: "There is evidence that human resources have been committed, with hundreds of cadres having moved north and west, while funds and weapons might be on their way," says Giustozzi. However, he says that despite a clear intention, the overall success of the project is not yet clear: "If there is little doubt about the Taliban’s intentions, the issue of what potential exists there for the insurgency to expand among non-Pashtuns remains open. As of late 2009, the largest contribution to the Taliban insurgency north of the Hindukush was still coming from Pashtun communities in Kunduz and Baghlan."
He notes that the alliance between the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has made it easier to recruit young Uzbeks, but points out that memories of the Taliban occupation of the north in the 1990s are still very bitter. Amongst the Tajiks, only a few from Logar have so far joined up.
However, "Undoubtedly there is a reservoir of highly conservative attitudes in the more remote parts of Afghanistan, which is likely to predispose some communities to receiving the Taliban message with a sympathetic ear."