Conflict in Afghanistan I
IRRC No. 880
The year 2011 marks the tenth anniversary of the launching of 'Operation Enduring Freedom'. For Americans, this is one of the longest wars in the history of their country, but when the American forces started to bomb Afghanistan the population of that country had already been suffering the ravages of civil wars, foreign intervention, and oppressive regimes for over twenty years. The Afghan conflict poses several challenges: that of building up stability in a territory ravaged by three decades of conflicts; that of the adequacy of the law to deal with the current crisis; and that of humanitarian action conducted by actors with varying goals and methods who are all operating in the same context.
Table of contents
Editorial: conflict in Afghanistan
Interview with Dr Sima Samar
Afghanistan: an historical and geographical appraisal
Afghanistan’s current difficulties are in large measure the product of a troubled history and a troubled geographical location. These have combined to produce a debilitated state, open to meddling from a range of external powers, that has now experienced decades of trauma.
Dynamic interplay between religion and armed conflict in Afghanistan
In approaching this subject the most important thing to understand is how Afghans perceive things to be. The physical characteristics of their environment are easy to define and describe, but their character, relationship to Islam, and how the two combine and affect their mode of warfare is more complex – a knot of truly Gordian proportions.
Transnational Islamic networks
Besides a surge in terrorist activities, events following the 11 September terrorist attack on the United States have raised a new challenge for the world: the emergence of transnational Islamic networks. This article gives an overview of the role of Islamist networks and their influence in South and South-west Asia and the Afghanistan—Pakistan region in particular.
Impunity and insurgency: a deadly combination in Afghanistan
Disillusionment with the continued abuse of power, along with the steady increase in war-related casualties, is a significant driver of the escalating insurgency. It is not realistic to envisage an end to armed conflict and the development of democratic and accountable state institutions while impunity reigns.
The right to counsel as a safeguard of justice in Afghanistan: the contribution of the International Legal Foundation
In Afghanistan, rule of law projects have placed a heavy emphasis on rebuilding courts and law enforcement institutions but little attention has been given to the critical element of defence. This article examines the right to counsel in Afghanistan and the indispensable role that defence lawyers are playing in the development of the justice system.
State-building in Afghanistan: a case showing the limits?
Since the 1990s, the concept of ‘state-building’ has become the means by which intervenors have attempted to tackle ‘state failure/fragility’. The ‘ideal’ referred to when attempting to do this has been that of the classic ‘nation-state’ as developed by Max Weber. Today, however, some academics are beginning to outline an alternative response to state fragility, recognizing more traditional sources of legitimacy and a hybridity of political order.
The future of Afghanistan: an Afghan responsibility
This article argues that the future of Afghanistan lies in Afghan hands. The solution to its current problems cannot and will not come from outside. It is time for Afghan men and women to confront their problems, to address their divisions, and to envisage home-grown solutions.
Books and articles (Winter 2010)
Recent acquisitions of the Library & Research Service, ICRC