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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaArmed governance: the case of the CIA-supported Afghan militias

Armed governance: the case of the CIA-supported Afghan militias

Author: Antonio De Lauri, and Astri Suhrke

Affiliation: CHR Michelsen Institute

Organization/Publisher: Routledge 

Date/Place: June 18, 2020/UK

Type of Literature: Article 

Number of Pages: 20


Keywords: Afghanistan, Armed Governance, CIA, Afghan Militias, Peace Talks, Accountability


The article focuses on armed governance in post 2001 Afghanistan which includes the non-transparent CIA militias and the strategic, legal, policy, and moral issues this entails. The current militia units operating first originated in the aftermath of 9/11 to fight Islamist militants. The CIA’s army that is functioning in Afghanistan has two types of components: Khost Protection Force (KPF), which is an illegal armed group as its existence has no basis in Afghan law and no formal place in the state security apparatus or budget; the other is the Special Forces of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence agency. The operations of these militias are curtained in secrecy and have committed serious human rights abuses, including numerous extrajudicial killings of civilians. These activities are less known to the public, and thus the militias have no accountability for grave human rights violations. The author reports that civilian casualties in 2018 reached 11,000 and that this increase was also in line with the general escalation of violence.  All parties appeared to intensify their efforts to gain advantages on the ground, which could translate into political bargaining power during peace negotiations that seemed to be on the horizon. The Peace talk between the US and Taliban reached an agreement but the real challenge to the process of state formation is the CIA-supported militia, which could play a negative role by jeopardizing the future of a lasting peace if not properly integrated in the system. The author seems pessimistic about the withdrawal scenario, that whether the CIA continues sponsorship or not, the militias are now well established and will persist as important proxies of violence in the formation of armed governance in Afghanistan.     


By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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