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Cablegate: Security in Nuristan -- The Enemy Within?

VZCZCXRO9632
RR RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #3267/01 2701134
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271134Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0481
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//JF/UNMA//
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFIUU/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003267

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-82, POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER EAID ECON PHUM AF
SUBJECT: Security in Nuristan -- The Enemy Within?


1. (SBU) Summary: Nuristan Province has seen an increase in
security incidents since the establishment of a Coalition presence
last fall. The situation became particularly acute this summer,
with 21 separate attacks on Coalition or Afghan targets. While the
frequency has declined since July, the PRT expects more attacks
before the onset of winter. Significantly, despite claims to the
contrary by Nuristani elders, a number of the attacks appear to have
been undertaken by local insurgents. End Summary.

Cross-Border Influence...

2. (SBU) Over the last two months, PRT Nuristan has met with elders
from throughout the province to discuss the difficult security
situation. In every case the elders uniformly asserted that the
insurgents were foreigners who were entering the province from
Pakistan. They acknowledged that while a few locals could be
involved, they argued that they were unimportant bit-players. Many
also said more vigilance on the borders would reduce security
incidents. These claims were echoed by Governor Tamim Nuristani,
who asserted that the insurgency owes most of its strength to
cross-border leadership. He complained that foreign insurgents had
established a "training camp" in eastern Nuristan.

... Or the Kid Next Door?

3. (SBU) However, the facts seem to indicate otherwise. Insurgent
radio communications are strictly in Kata and Kam-viri, which are
neither spoken nor understood by more than a handful of non-native
Nuristanis. On September 12 and 13, insurgents fired four mortars
and an RPG round at the PRT's Forward Operating Base (FOB) in
Nurgram District in southwestern Nuristan. (The attacks caused no
damage.) After their second foray, the insurgents went back to
their homes a few kilometers away. Local security forces say they
know where they live, but complain that they lack the means to take
action.

Keys to the Insurgency: Local Governance and Development

4. (SBU) While recent attacks on the PRT were ineffective,
insurgent activity during July and early August claimed lives
throughout the province. Camp Keating, in eastern Nuristan, was the
target of some 21 attacks during the month of July. During the
course of the summer, insurgents also conducted attacks across
Nuristan. Coalition operations have caused far more casualties
among insurgents than the insurgents have inflicted on the
Coalition. The absence, however, of a constant Afghan National Army
(ANA) presence in the areas in which insurgent leaders live cedes a
considerable amount of initiative to the insurgency.

5. (SBU) Although the governor points to Pakistan as the source of
the insurgency, he acknowledges that his own cousin is one of the
insurgent leaders in the province. One of the primary operational
commanders of the insurgents in southwestern Nuristan lives in a
house a few kilometers up the valley from the PRT. Clearly, these
figures are not going to depart for the winter, and border controls
will not affect them. The involvement in the insurgency of
important figures with deep roots in Nuristan gives staying power to
the insurgency. One problem is the lack of solid leadership on the
part of elders at the town level. Traditionally, Nuristani towns
decided issues on the basis of corporate decisions, with elders
playing an important role. Thirty years of war, however, has
altered the social fabric of Nuristan, leading to an increase in the
influence of military and religious leaders relative to town elders.
Nevertheless, elders remain important, and they can still play an
important part in influencing popular positions in their towns. The
provincial government and the PRT have focused on outreach to elders
to encourage them to play a constructive role.

6. (SBU) Another key to the insurgency is the lack of development.
The lack of employment has led some Nuristani young men to
participate in actions against Coalition or government forces on a
piece-work basis. Pakistani elements pay for attacks, and some
local men find it tempting -- in the absence of other sources of
income -- to take the money, fire off an ineffectual round, and run.

KABUL 00003267 002 OF 002


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