Cablegate: Militias in Kunduz; a Tale of Two Districts

DE RUEHBUL #0012/01 0030725
P 030725Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000012



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2019

Classified By: Interagency Provincial Affairs Coordinator Scott F.
Kilner for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Since Kunduz authorities helped stand up
pro-GIRoA militia forces in early Fall 2009, the forces have
evolved in very different directions. In Qala-e-Zal
district, a well-disciplined force has brought about a marked
improvement in security, while the picture in the Aqtash
areas of Khanabad district is much less positive because the
GIRoA clearly lacks adequate control over the fighters. End


2. (C) In June 2009, Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar announced
the creation of an Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) in
Kunduz province, for which 150 to 200 men were to be
recruited in each district to complement regular ANP. In
July, Gov. Omar and provincial security officials conducted
shuras throughout the province, in which elders and former
mujahedeen commanders were asked to identify suitable
recruits for the force. Omar subsequently learned, however,
that APPF would not be expanded to Kunduz province and
increasingly frustrated with a shortage of ANSF, especially
ANP, Kunduz authorities moved to stand up militia forces
which would work with the ANSF to combat the growing
insurgency. Funding for the initiative was obtained
primarily through the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

3. (C) In the northwestern district of Qala-e-Zal, militia
forces under the command of Nabi Gichi have been the most
organized and disciplined of the various militia groups
operating in Kunduz province. A large part of the credit for
this must go to District Manager Mohammad Nazir, who was
involved from the beginning in the standing up of a pro-GIRoA
militia and recruiting for its leader, the Turkmen former
mujahedeen commander Nabi Gichi from Mazar-e-Sharif. The
commanders received some weapons as well as funding from the
NDS to supplement to supplement their own weapons, and
community elders agreed to provide some food for the militia
members. The commanders submitted to Nabi as the overall
commander in the district, and they promised not to collect
taxes from or harass the population. According to Nazir,
each sub-commander of Nabi is responsible for a certain area,
and those forces are not permitted to operate outside of the
area. In the event of a security incident or allegations of
misconduct by militia members, Nazir told us, he holds the
sub-commander of the area personally responsible.

4. (C) Nabi's forces proved themselves in fighting
insurgents in September, at a time when insurgents appeared
close to taking over much of Kunduz province. Together with
ANSF, his forces successfully fended off an insurgent attack
on a border police post in Qala-e-Zal, along the border with
Tajikistan, and have successfully driven insurgents from much
of Qala-e-Zal district. During a visit by PRT Kunduz in
November to the district to assess the situation and explore
opportunities for quick-impact projects, Nabi's forces were
present, yet both the commander himself and his forces
(identifiable by their wearing of a yellow armband) remained
discreetly in the background and visibly deferential to the
District Manager. The local population expressed strong
appreciation for the improvement in security Nabi's forces
have brought.


5. (C) In Khanabad district in eastern Kunduz province,
particularly in the Aqtash area, militias have also been
active, but the picture is altogether different from that in
Qala-e-Zal. While in Qala-e-Zal a commander was recruited
from outside the area, the move to support militias in
Khanabad district has significantly increased the influence
of local power brokers from the area. The most powerful of
the militia leaders in Khanabad are Mohammad Omar (unrelated
to the Kunduz Governor of the same name), an ethnic Pashtun;
and Mir Alam Khan, a Tajik commander and the most powerful
power broker in the province. Mir Alam is also the
brother-in-law of Kunduz NDS Chief Gen. Mohammad Daoud.
While the full extent of the cooperation between NDS and Mir
Alam is not clear, it is likely that Mir Alam's relationship
to Gen. Daoud has given him a privileged position in
receiving NDS support.

6. (C) The most problematic aspect of developments in
Khanabad district is the lack of adequate GIRoA control over
the forces operating in the area, an issue over which both
KABUL 00000012 002 OF 002
District Manager Nezamuddin Nasher and Kunduz Deputy NDS
Chief Karim Atrafi have repeatedly expressed concern. In
Atrafi's assessment, unlike in Qala-e-Zal, the situation in
Aqtash has become quite confused, and neither NDS nor other
GIRoA authorities have much control over the situation.
According to Atrafi, the fighters active in Aqtash do not
have a clear chain of command, and these militia forces are
also fighting among themselves and settling old scores.
Atrafi also noted that some groupings were cooperating with
both insurgents and GIRoA, changing their behavior
opportunistically depending on their own interests.

7. (C) Already, there are indications that the situation in
Aqtash, which militia forces cleared just before the
election, is quite fragile, and reports from the area suggest
there is significant resentment among the local population
toward the militias' practices of collecting taxes.
Further complicating the picture is the complex ethnic makeup
of Khanabad district. Unlike in Qala-e-Zal, where the
population is overwhelmingly Turkmen, Khanabad district, like
the province as a whole, comprises a plurality of Pashtuns as
well as smaller numbers of Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. As
the militias loyal to Mir Alam are mostly Tajiks, there
exists a real risk that conflict between the population and
militias or among the militias themselves will take on an
ethnic dimension, in which the militias are perceived by
Pashtuns as not anti-Taliban but anti-Pashtun.

8. (C) The very different development in Qala-e-Zal and in
Khanabad highlight the significant benefits and risks
associated with such informal security mechanisms. In
Qala-e-Zal, the militias have undoubtedly been a stabilizing
force. The involvement of the District Manager from the
start, the inclusion of the community into the process, their
benign behavior toward the population (not collecting taxes),
and the (comparatively) clear chain of command have all
helped to make the force in Qala-e-Zal a success. The
picture in Khanabad is much less clear, and it remains to be
seen whether the security gains that have been made there
will be durable, or if they came at the price of increasing
ethnic tensions in the long-term. Furthermore, as Afghan
officials increasingly see a need to bring the militia forces
into an official framework, these different characteristics
among militia groups will have significant implications for
any possible future integration of the forces into ANSF.
Post will engage with GIRoA authorities on the potential for
that integration and will continue to monitor the development
of these informal security mechanisms. End Comment.

9. (U) This cable was drafted by PRT Kunduz.

© Scoop Media

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