Taliban Sets Up Local Governments as Influence Grows in Southern Afghanistan

As the Taliban’s influence in southern Afghanistan grows, the faction is setting up its own local government institutions and court systems in some areas to mediate property and inheritance disputes. The move is just the latest example of how the Taliban movement, seeing the international forces unable to expel them from portions of the troubled country, is consolidating its power.

The move has even been confirmed by General David McKiernan, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan who has previously attacked the media for reporting about the Taliban’s growing influence. Gen. McKiernan sees the move as an attempt to “exert intimidation,” while acknowledging that the Taliban “try to have shadow governors or court systems.”

Gen. McKiernan insists that the Taliban brings no incentives to communities, a view which has previously seemed not to be shared by residents of the restive areas, who see the Taliban as a viable alternative to often corrupt officials.

This has led to a measure of “competitive state-building” between the Taliban and the NATO-backed government of President Hamid Karzai. One US official is quoted as predicting the Taliban would eventually lose because of their inability to provide basic services to the population. Still, seven years into the war, villagers in Afghanistan’s troubled south may well question that ability of NATO to provide these things in any more expedient a manner.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.