Exploiting global misunderstanding for local purposes

2016-12-24

in Bombs and rockets, Books and literature, Canada, Politics, Security, Writing

I told the UN chief about my recent conversations with disgruntled tribesmen, and their complaints about the Afghan police behaving like robbers.

“Yes, this is a case of bad governance,” Mr. Masadykov replied. “I can say now, when we’re talking about Taliban, maybe half of these so-called anti-government elements acting here in this area of the south, they had to join the Taliban movement or anti-government movement because of the misbehaviour of these bad guys.” He paused for effect, looking intently at me, and then looking at my digital recorder on the table between us. He probably understood that it wasn’t good for his career, describing NATO’s triumph as the killing of farmers with legitimate grievances. But he continued anyway: “I recently saw the report where they listed the names of the so-called Taliban commanders. Among them, knowing this area more or less — not all of them, of course, but some of them — I saw they are not Taliban. They were listed by internationals because internationals were informed by the local [Afghan] administration. And we still have people who are trying to play games, using the Canadians and Brits against their own personal tribal enemies. I saw people who were never Taliban, they’re now fighting against some certain tribal elders or certain groups.”

Not long after my story was published, under the headline “Inspiring tale of triumph over Taliban not all it seems,” the UN chief was transferred away from Kandahar. Mr. Masadykov’s boss downplayed his comments, saying they did not reflect the official view of the United Nations.

Smith, Graeme. The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan. Knopf Canada, Toronto. 2013. p. 87-8. Square brackets in original.

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