What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Antonio Giustozzi has already written about the DDR (disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration) programme in Afghanistan, on that previous occasion I know of it was together with Simonetta Rossi, and you can download that earlier paper from the Crisis States Research Centre at the London School of Economics from here. But here's a new study as well (thanks to IRG), with a by now inevitably more informed take on the subject from Giustozzi in solo. The previous one is still worth reading as it contains some interesting anecdotal discussion of how NGOs mismanaged the DDR process. This latest study is more interesting in discussing the politics among Afghan players in more detail, going beyond the bureaucratic process and its problematic implementation, providing a more in-depth look at the local factors of why it turned out to be problematic.
Which is what brings us to an Uruzgan-relevant piece of information. On page 187 Giustozzi writes:
"Matiullah, the most important and best known militia commander of Uruzgan, 'complied' with DIAG in January 2007 by handing over 264 weapons and then continued to run his militia and play a key role in the fight against the Taliban."
Giustozzi later metions Matiullah again, this time as Matinuddin, though, on page 188. But don't be confused by that, let's just say Matiullah from now on. I even tracked Giustozzi's reference and downloaded the newsletter he referenced from ANBP (the Afghanistan New Beginning Programme - the UNDP-run unit responsible for implementing DDR/DIAG).
The guy is former Uruzgan governor Jan Mohammed Khan's nephew and this is not the first time he catches Giustozzi's attention: in his book, Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop..., Giustozzi already mentions him as having retained a 1000-strong militia even after JMK's dismissal from the post of governor. Since he was (is?) head of the local highway police even after JMK's removal, this was not a particularly big surprise.
Anyway, there was a nice ceremony accompanying the January, 2007 handover of Matiullah's mini-arsenal. Unfortunately, ANBP didn't provide us with images of smiling people shaking hands. That would have been the perfect thing to add to this post.
Instead, here are (some of) Matiullah's 264 weapons. That's rather dull for illustration, I know.
Should we feel particularly sorry about only 264 weapons handed in this time? Well, if there would be a million ISAF troops in Afghanistan, this wouldn't matter so much. However, since there aren't a million ISAF troops there, it does matter, but in a way that one has to see the advantage in flexibility for leaving local allies empowered to fight back against that biggest "illegal armed group" or IAG, one that DIAG might want to D (i.e. disband), if DIAG would have ever been meant to cover that challenge as well. You know which "IAG" I'm talking about.
Meanwhile, the question is, if our favoured (I?)AG is involved in things that create resentment driving an insurgency targeting ISAF, too, then how should one approach the seemingly inevitable need for local proxies? I remember having heard somewhere that Matiullah's men are all Populzai. So this is a relevant question. One of those I just won't answer tonight.
One thing partly connected to a possible answer is this lovely term from milspeak I've heard for the first time recently: "update your will!" (Relevant all over the world, even near you - it's that Paris donor conference coming up I'm subtly referring to again, you see.)

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