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

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Photo, quotes, and superficial idea of the day

In the photo above, you can see troops in the area of Hawz-e-Madad's bazaar, during Operation Baaz Tsuka, at around the turn of 2006/2007. I found this picture on an internet forum, and the interesting thing about it is that this is the settlement in the vicinity of which the Taliban set up their very first checkpoint in 1994, on the Herat-Kandahar road (close to Kandahar).
The nearby section of that road nowadays is pretty dangerous. One very recent source says (dated April 10, 2010):
"I’ve realised the section of Route 1 in the vicinity of Hawz-e Madad, specifically between ISAF report lines SA16 and SA18, is ambush alley for us."
This is not very different from the past, except for guerrilla tactics employed. In Jalali and Grau's volume, this is stated about 1980s combat in the area:
"The (Soviet - P.M.) enemy columns were most vulnerable on a stretch of the road between the western suburbs of the city and Hauz-e Madad, located about 40 kilometers west of Kandahar. In this area, the Mujahideen were able to hide in the orchards and villages to ambush enemy columns."
Of course, there are plenty of other badland ambush alleys around in the south. My linking the 1980s with 1994 and with 2010 is not to convey the message that ISAF is fighting some uniquely important, mystical demon of war in Hawz-e-Madad. In fact, I see the irony of fate in how structural factors (oil wealth, arms trade, superpower rivalry, drought, Indo-Pak security dilemma etc.) produced a history which made places such as Hawz-e-Madad, Kandahar, or, for that matter, Jaji Maydan* in Paktia (where bin Laden and his Arab friends had their first experiences of jihad on guided tours of Sayyaf and others) became important in a sense.

* Jaji ought not be confused with Jaji Maydan - Erwin Franzen, someone who visited there back in the 1980s, warned me of the importance of this.

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