Afghanistan, February 2013: Anti-Taliban Militias
Recently, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai ordered U.S. forces to leave Wardak province, partly in response to U.S.-funded militias in the region accused of "torturing, harassing, and murdering" ordinary civilians. The U.S. has been training and funding tribal militias in Afghanistan for years, hoping to emulate the success of a similar strategy in Iraq. Journalist Vikram Singh has been been tracking these militias across Afghanistan over the last few months and says that "the accusations of torture and murder come as little surprise. ... In my visits to different zones where militias are active, I've seen their leaders operate as quasi-warlords. Instances of abuse are common and well documented. In provinces like Kunduz, there are districts with no government unit strong enough to challenge the militia's authority." In this essay, Singh focused on two different militia groups. One is in Logar Province, set up by a construction company owner angry at the killing of his mother by the Taliban in 2012. The second group operates in the northeastern province of Kunduz, where it chased the Taliban away almost three years ago but did not disband afterward. The militia's leader, an ex-mujahideen called Nabi Gecchi, has now started taxing the local population to finance its operations.