Afghanistan: June 13, 2005


After three years effort, an American-Afghan intelligence effort has concluded that there are between 1200-1800 armed organizations in the country, each with five to 300 men. Many of these "gangs" are temporary organizations, brought together by outside events and local opportunities. In the Afghan tradition, anyone with a fast mouth and persuasive proposition can get a bunch of his buddies to grab their guns and go off to fight, or just steal. Ancient traditions and all that. Many of these armed groups in turn follow a more powerful leader, often referred to as a warlord. As long as the warlord can supply his followers with gifts (cash, food, weapons, whatever), they will remain loyal. When the gifts dry up, so does the loyalty, and the warlord "army" melts away. The UN backed DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration) program, begun in October 2003, and ending at the end of  June, has disarmed over 58,000 former fighters who had registered with the Defense Ministry. DDR was basically a bribe, paying fighters to go home, and turn in heavy weapons. DDR will be replaced by DIAG (Disbanding Illegal Armed Groups), which will be run by provincial officials and, in a year, hopes to disarm another 100,000 of these organized fighters. Like DDR, DIAG is organized bribery, paying the gunmen to forsake their gang leaders and warlords and go home. However, aside from surrendering heavy machine-guns, mortars and such, the gunmen can quickly organize themselves into new groups and find another warlord to follow. Tradition.

In the southern city of Kandahar, a suicide car bomber attacked an American convoy, and wounded four U.S. troops.


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