The past week or so, both the blogs and the traditional media have been debating whether or not there is a civil war in Iraq.  My question however is, is there a civil war going on right now in Afghanistan?

To paraphrase that old rhetorical question from the 1960’s – what if someone threw a (civil) war and nobody (from the media) showed up?
Everyone and their half brother have been focusing on Abdul Rahman, the 41 year old Afghan man who is facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity.  I feel sorry for him of course but he’s just a drop in the mighty ocean.

His case however is worth noting because the U.S. government, up to and including Condoleezza Rice, have tried to intervene in this case (apparently) to no avail.  Even puppet president Hamid Karzai seems powerless to do anything.  If the mighty U.S. can’t fix a trial in the supposedly controlled capital to protect one of their own faith, what does that say about the rest of the country?

Today UNICEF said that half the girls in Afghanistan are not going to school out of fear for their safety.  This is due in part to at least 30 schools being attacked.  Gosh and I bet you didn’t know that last Wednesday was Education Day in the country.

Meanwhile about 50 women are dying every day either giving birth or due to pregnancy complications.  Women in Afghanistan are treated exactly like property, traded and sold between men for a variety of reasons, including to pay off debts.  Not to mention girls as young as 3 are married off – not forced to have sex at that age, but given the status of “wife” nonetheless, with all the incumbent duties and lack of rights that entails.

But that’s nothing new.  What is new is the Taliban “teaming up” with drug warlords.  Which is bitterly ironic since before the 2001 invasion, the Taliban had ceased all new heroin production to almost zero.  And it’s been three and a half years since the invasion and the Taliban still:

  • Are getting instructions from their pre-invasion leader, Mullah Omar;
  • Have a variety of spokespersons, who conduct interviews not only via telephone but sometimes via radio and even television;
  • Run their own video production facilities, which broadcast pre-recorded shows on Afghan and Pakistani TV as well as via CD-ROMs for viewing on computers;
  • Have enough armed members to conduct regular attacks against either Afghan troops/police or coalition troops.  I estimate there is one Taliban attack every second day.

Meanwhile over 1,600 people were killed in Afghanistan last year, which does not include 129 American soldiers and 30 coalition troops, plus an uncounted number of civilian contractors and relief workers.  

Heck, the Talibna are so bold that they even declared their own Islamic state inside of Pakistan.  

Folks, 90% of the entire planet’s opium comes from Afghanistan.  Ninety freaking percent.  And the income from that is directly funding the Taliban, who not only enforce their draconian lifestyle rules but regularly attack gov’t forces in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well.

I know saying the word “warlord” or “drug baron” makes these people sound like outlaws as they are in the United States perhaps, or Colombia.  On the contrary, in Afghanistan they are often police chiefs or even members of the government.  Check out what the U.S. Army has to say:

The absence of security outside Kabul has resulted in continuing reliance on local powers for security and administration. Coalition efforts have failed to erode the influence of regional warlords, and militias continue to be the cornerstone of regional power. Lieutenant General John R. Vines, while commander of combined Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan, stated: “Militias are part of the existing reality, some are legitimate, and some are predators. We need to work aggressively to disestablish militias who are not legitimate, but the challenge is, if you disestablish a militia, who provides security? The vacuum can be filled by anarchy.”

Except not even Kabul is safe.  Just this morning, the Taliban blew up a truck carrying fuel to the American base at Bagram.  4 people were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul on March 12.

Speaking of the month of March, the Taliban have launched attacks in Zabul, Faryab, Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Oruzgan, Paktika, Khost, Kunar and Daykondi provinces, plus of course the capital of Kabul.  And multiple engagements with Pak forces inside of Pakistan’s NWFP, especially North and South Waziristan.

Does that sound like a country under control to you?

Not to mention that even basic services in Kabul itself are spotty:

The popular discontent in Afghanistan with the failure of Kabul to deliver security, social services, and basic livelihood is steadily growing. Although much has been achieved, expectations of improved living conditions have been growing at a much more rapid pace. Increasingly, the discontent is directed against President Hamid Karzai himself. The popularity he enjoyed after the presidential elections in 2004 is slipping. By the fall of 2005, unemployment and lack of basic necessities had paralyzed Kabul with protests.

Wikipedia defines civil war thusly:

A civil war is a war in which parties within the same country or empire struggle for national control of state power. As in any war, the conflict may be over other matters such as religion, ethnicity, or distribution of wealth. Some civil wars are also categorized as revolutions when major societal restructuring is a possible outcome of the conflict. An insurgency, whether successful or not, is likely to be classified as a civil war by some historians if, and only if, organized armies fight conventional battles. Other historians state the criteria for a civil war is that there must be prolonged violence between organized factions or defined regions of a country (conventionally fought or not). In simple terms, a Civil War is a war in which a country fights another part of itself.

I was curious how the traditional media described the last “official” civil war in Afghanistan, the one in the 1990’s between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.  It seems most of the fighting at that time was of the “conventional” sort, with heavier weaponry and more organized battle lines.  But when a part of the country fights itself, that is a civil war.  

As far as I’m concerned, there’s one raging right now in Afghanistan whether the media chooses to label it as such or not.

Map of Afghanistan, included provinces here.

Crossposted from the doubleplusungood crimethink website Flogging the Simian


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