AAN Papers

The Northern Front: The Afghan Insurgency Spreading beyond the Pashtuns


One of the key developments in Afghanistan during the last year is the expansion of insurgent activity in the northern region. The latest AAN briefing paper analyses this expansion and points to the crucial fact that the Taleban are expanding their constituency into non-Pashtun areas. The paper is authored by Antonio Giustozzi, prominent scholar of Afghanistan politics and the Taliban, and Christoph Reuter, country-based journalist and an expert on the situation in the northern provinces.

The 7-page briefing paper analyses Taleban strategies of infiltration and expansion into new areas but also the type of response locally based ISAF forces have shown. It points to the fact that pattern known from elsewhere in Afghanistan are repeated in the nine provinces stretching from Faryab in the West to Badakhshan in the East. The key provinces of Kunduz and Faryab are taken as short case studies.

The authors state that the Taleban follow a ‘grand design’ of expansion, based on direct encouragement and incentives from the Quetta-based Taleban leadership. “Steadily over years, and withstanding their initial failures, the Taleban leadership has established areas of local dominance’ in northern Afghanistan. It even has improved its ‘insurgency “template”’ further. At the same time, the paper makes clear that the situation is not equally problematic in the whole North. Furthermore, Giustozzi and Reuter’s paper lays out the relevance of the ethnic factor and other drivers of Taleban infiltration, including the role of the clergy.

This briefing paper will be followed by a more comprehensive thematic report on the same topic with a broader range of area case studies later in the year.

To download the full paper click here

Afghanistan Analysts Network, Briefing Paper, 03/2010

Released 24 June 2010.

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