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January 12, 2011 / jeni

Banditry in Northern Afghanistan

My colleagues and I have been talking about banditry lately, a curiously old-school-sounding category of crime that nonetheless permeates most zones of conflict and instability. It’s not as flashy as drug-lording or arms-running, but it’s perhaps the type of crime most likely to affect your average person caught up in such unfortunate areas.

I’ll be reading up on this in the near term for a new report we’re writing (the reason for our relative silence lately, by the way!) so I’d like to share some things I come across, as I’m not sure this type of criminality gets enough attention.

For the moment, I’d just like to draw your attention to a recent Al Jazeera article on the Arbakai militias in northern Afghanistan — semi-official armed groups that were so predatory toward local populations that President Karzai was finally forced to order their disbandment. Pessimism remains, however, on whether the groups will actually be able to be disarmed, and the episode is not propelling optimism regarding the creation of Afghan Local Police units across the country.

The situation in northern Afghanistan is in flux, and it’s important to try to understand the dynamics of increasing instability and violence there. These provinces don’t just have a Taliban problem — they have a bandit problem. The question is, are there any mechanisms for effectively dealing with the latter?

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