Tag Archives: Mattiulah Khan

One man’s warlord is another man’s police chief

A little good news is always worth passing on.

This blogger has grown to support the idea of putting the warlords friendly (or at least not opposed to) to the U.S. in positions of official power and responsibility.  An example of this is the appointment of Mattiulah Khan as the Provincial Chief of Police (PCOP) in Uruzgan. 

Since Khan’s taking office, he has been targeted by the Taliban but has survived and the locals are taking note of the security improvements in his province.  The Victoria Times Colonist of Canada filed this report essentially endorsing the appointment of the warlord as the PCOP:  Column: A rare sign of hope in Afghanistan.

Pockets of sanity in Afghanistan will prevail long after the U.S. departs but are unlikely to be in a western image.  The secure areas will largely homogenous groups united around their culture (Bamiyan) and/or leaders (such as Mattiulah Khan).  Few believe a central government in Kabul has any chance of lasting power without western intervention and money; federalism may be the only solution to retaining some image of a unified Afghanistan.

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Laying the Groundwork for Civil War

Dec. 5, 2011 Cover Page

Wow.  

Rarely am I so dumbfounded that I cannot conjure up some cynicism to summarize another’s viewpoint on Afghanistan.   

No amount of commentary could replace reading the entire article Laying the Groundwork for Civil War written by Christoph Reuter for Der Spiegel.

Being hardheaded, I will provide a glimpse with a few interesting quotes.  Make no mistake. . . these snippets  are no substitute for reading the entire article.

At the grand council, or loya jirga, held in mid-November, the delegates argued less passionately over a strategic agreement with the United States than over who was to be appointed to the 39th of 40 committees — until they decided to simply skip the number. “In Afghanistan, the number 39 has a very strange meaning which it is not fair for me to tell you,” said jirga spokeswoman Safia Sediqi.

The Afghan government troops do go into combat, but only when the soldiers haven’t just gone AWOL for weeks, or when their officers haven’t been selling gasoline on the black market. On several occasions, the Bundeswehr soldiers in Kunduz have used cameras and night-vision devices to observe their Afghan allies siphoning off gasoline from their own vehicles at night. General Fazil, who was the commander of an army unit in Kunduz until last year, was notorious for stealing and selling tens of thousands of liters of the army’s diesel fuel every month. His nickname among the Germans was “Diesel Fazil.” He had even got the gasoline-stealing expeditions organized for a period when he was attending training for senior staff in Germany.

“The [Americans] are all assholes. Assholes!” It isn’t that they are bad people, Nadir says, toning his rhetoric down a notch, but because they have spent billions to train an army of corrupt opportunists whose loyalty, if they have any at all, is reserved for their own ethnic group. “Without the Americans,” Nadir predicts, “our army will break up into Pashtun, Tajik and Hazara units.”

. . . the Taliban, who, according to NATO, must be defeated if stability is to be restored . . .

The Americans are not repeating the mistakes of the Russians, as they are often accused of doing, but are in fact making their own. Just as they armed warlords and war criminals in the 1980s to fight the Soviet occupation and again in 2002, merely because they were the enemies of their enemies, they are now turning gangsters into allies.

“What we are now seeing,” explains Ruttig, “is an uncontrolled proliferation of competing militias, as well as oversized armed forces whose loyalties tend to lie with their former commanders rather than the Kabul government — and with nothing that could hold them together, especially not after a withdrawal of the Western troops. This is a recipe for civil war.”

So much for the guarded optimism:  Laying the Groundwork for Civil War.

The Nazis per se were not our enemy

If you thought President George Bush was an idiot, what would you call Vice President Joe Biden?  From The Daily Beast:

Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests. If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us. So there’s a dual track here:

One, continue to keep the pressure on al Qaeda and continue to diminish them. Two, put the government in a position where they can be strong enough that they can negotiate with and not be overthrown by the Taliban. And at the same time try to get the Taliban to move in the direction to see to it that they, through reconciliation, commit not to be engaged with al Qaeda or any other organization that they would harbor to do damage to us and our allies.

Isn’t the enemy of our friend our enemy too?  Perhaps the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan really isn’t a friend. . .

Then there are the defenders:  Why Biden Isn’t Necessarily Wrong About the Taliban.  The writer of this OpEd, Mr. Kerry Patton, states that a lazy American culture has rushed to label everyone and in so doing has wrongfully labelled everyone (isn’t ‘lazy American’ a label?).  The grave injustice?  The word “taliban” simply comes from the Arabic word Talib meaning “student” so to call anything “Taliban” is indifinitive, spurious, and reckless.

Mr. Patton then admits what everyone else knows, that there is indeed a real Taliban militant group (maybe that is the one the lazy Americans are referring to).   No one in the Coalition countries–except for Vice President Biden–is thinking of the little girls at  Bibi Mahru High School in Wazir Akbar Khan when they speak of the Taliban.

Anyone paying attention knows that every warlord in Afghanistan is not a friend of the Taliban.  But this Presidency is so much smarter than us doofuses that put them in office.  Just make sure to get them on the same teleprompter:

“Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq. – I will make the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be.

– President Obama, July 15, 2008

“The fight” to which the President refers must be synonymous to the fighting between two brothers arguing over their Tonka trucks while throwing sand on each other during the family vacation to the beach–except for the water.

With all the clarity of a person not limited by logic, gravity, or planetary motion, Mr. Patton begins wrapping up his drivel with this gem:  “In Afghanistan, our enemy may or may not be the Taliban.”  Time to update the map of COIN Dynamics.

Then again, we botched the whole World War II thing; Nazis may or may not have been bad guys.

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If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

Ecclesiastes 1:9, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Nothing should be a surprise by now.  The Afghan National Police (ANP) (the other half of the Afghan National Security Forces) has appointed the warlord Mattiullah Khan as the Provincial Chief of Police for Uruzgan Province, just North of Kandahar, in the central part of the country. 

On my “Support your local warlord” post, I discussed Khan’s influence throughout the North Kandahar and Uruzgan Provinces.  As the articles above address, there is some fear of reigniting rivalries and targeting neutral tribes which could create security issues as the U.S. (and NATO) begin to draw down.

Most of our problems in Afghanistan stem from a lack of decentralized authority.  Quite literally, if a one-star general in Herat wants to replace a door-knob, he has to get about 13 signatures and approval from the Minister of Defense.  Larger purchases require President of Afghanistan approval. 

This may sound crazy but this reflects the tribal culture of Afghanistan–the Tribal Elder(s) make all the decisions.  This is how Afghanistan has operated for thousands of years and continues to operate despite our best efforts to westernize it. 

Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

If we really want to succeed, our best route is to embrace the tribal culture.  Creating a unipolar government will make that government either powerless (due to tribal tendancies) or a constant target for overthrow.  There is disagreement by the experts whether a multipolar society can be stable.  But we aren’t willing to spend the time (generations) and money (trillions) to convert the prevalent attitudes. 

By embracing the natural multipolar culture, we don’t look like occupiers, establish truly recognized leadership throughout the country, develop relationships with more than one organization and thereby reduce the risk associated with our alignment with the often questioned validity of any one organization.

An excellent read is “One Tribe at a Time” by MAJ Jim Gant.  This is the view from a guy on the ground, working with tribal leaders who understands the personal and embedded motivations of the Afghans (as opposed to a chump that sits in air conditioned office spending billions of taxpayer dollars pontificating on the trade-offs of various forms of nation-state governance).

Proverbs 6:23, “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:”

Support Your Local Warlord

About 30 km south of Tirin Kowt on the border between Uruzgan and Kanahar Province, I am about to complete a $26 million dollar facility for the ANA’s 3rd kandak (battalion), of the 4th brigade, of the 205th Corps (3/4/205).  Based on reports from my contractor and the rumor mill, the area is controlled by the “local”  warlord, Matiullah Khan.  Per several news reports (The New York Times and The Australian, for starters), Khan has a local militia of 2,000 and controls all access and movement along the major roadway through the area.  He undoubtedly has at least business ties with the Taliban and possibly Al Qaida.

LtCol Khan, Col Azizi, Col Khan, and Lt Khan

In spite of their abysmal current living conditions, the 205th Corps has been less than chomping at the bit to occupy the brand-new 3/4/205 kandak site.  In fact, I have suspended progress at another site in the same AOR to motivate the Corps Commander to occupy and secure the site upon completion (for fear that the unsavory types will indeed take it over and waste our $26M investment). 

At least 4 of these people are Khans

A project manager on the construction site happens to be the cousin of Mattiullah Khan.  Just a few days ago, the project manager hosted a site visit to show ANA representatives the facility they are about to take custody of.  The leaders raved about the great quality and even stated, “this is the best we have seen and we will recommend to the US Command that they should give all projects in Uruzgan [Province] to [this contractor].”  We do have another $150M of construction pending award in Uruzgan this summer.

“Khan” is the “Smith” of the U.S., but few would expect any given meeting to have 3 of 4 principle actors to have the name “Smith.”  But, in fact, 4 out of 5 leaders at the visit to the 3/4/205 site were Khans (including the project manager mentioned above).

As far as the taxpayer goes, we have done what we can to ensure the facility is turned over to the Afghan National Army (ANA). 

If it is not occupied by the “good guys”, at least we know where it is!