Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Events

4 July AAN New Report: Layha: Calling the Taleban to Account

AAN admin 2 min

The new report by Kate Clark, AAN Senior Analyst, discusses the Taleban Code of Conduct of the Layha. In the report, Clark uses the Layha as a means of analysing the Taleban itself and the movements changing concerns, but she also asks whether the Layha could be approached in much more practical terms, as a rulebook which if applied could help reduce suffering in the conflict.

In her report, Kate Clark analyses the four main themes of all three codes. That is, how to deal with those who surrender; how to deal with crime, punishment and prisoners; how to deal with the local population, and; how to deal with the Taleban’s own organizational structure and hierarchies. In her analysis, Clark uses the Layha as a means of analysing the Taleban itself and the movements changing concerns, but she also asks whether the Layha could be approached in much more practical terms, as a rulebook which if applied could help reduce suffering in the conflict.

Obviously, large gaps exist between rules and action and the articles that call for the protection of civilian lives and property are often not heeded or are intentionally violated: attacks leave dozens of civilians dead, suspected spies are assassinated and local people are forced to pay taxes. However, the fact that winning the support of the local population is crucial appears also to have led to some changes since 2006. For example, orders in the 2006 Code to beat and (eventually) kill recalcitrant teachers, burn schools and have nothing to do with NGOs – which were described as ‘tools of the infidels’ – have been quietly dropped in 2009 and 2010.

Through examples, Clark shows how pro-active use of the Layha has resulted in reactions from the Taleban. For example, when UNAMA reported in mid-2010 that most civilian casualties were due to insurgent attacks and criticised the Taleban for violating their own Code, it hit a raw nerve. The Taleban reacted strongly, with denial, indignation and a call for the setting up of a joint commission on civilian casualties. A small scrap of common ground was opened up in the stated desire by all parties to protect Afghan civilians.

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Kate Clark Layha Reports Taleban