Afghanopoly in a Nutshell

A group of Northwestern University undergraduate students decided to gain a better understanding of the American-led intervention in Afghanistan. They now meet once a week to discuss the intricacies of Afghan politics.

This blog will summarize some of the key points of that discussion and expose the students to comments and ideas from the wider world. Afghanopoly aims to be a forum of discussion for students and outsiders, beyond the classroom.

Syllabus Romain Malejacq – Afghanistan and the Politics of International Intervention

About Afghanopoly

I am an Assistant Professor of peace and conflict studies at Radboud University's Centre for International Conflict Analysis and Management (CICAM). I completed my PhD in Political Science at Northwestern University and Sciences Po under the supervision of Will Reno and Bertrand Badie. Among other things, I teach students about the politics of international intervention in Afghanistan and elsewhere. My research focuses on the political strategies that Afghan strongmen use to consolidate and legitimize their authority. I am particularly interested in how these actors manage to conduct their own forms of international relations. My field research brings me in contact with Afghan community leaders, politicians, diplomats and foreign military officers.
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8 Responses to Afghanopoly in a Nutshell

  1. kredox says:

    On September 15, 2001, President Musharraf told Ambassador Chamberlin:” We will hand over captured al Qa’ida operatives to you. But we will handle the Pakistanis and other locals ourselves.” Deputy Secretary of State Armitage argued that “Musharraf did not push hard against the Taliban” and was “only cooperative in targeting some key al Qa’ida militants.” I understand that Pakistan played a double-game there of receiving support from United States on one hand and not messing too much with Taliban on the other hand. Pakistan’s tactic is pretty easy to apprehend, whether I am not fully understanding of why United States did not push Pakistan harder for more cooperation of capturing and destroying Taliban. As President Musharraf told on September 15, that they will handle locals themselves, but how you distinguish those locals from Taliban? Who actually decides who is local? What if local people are part of Taliban or helping and supporting Taliban using money that are coming from United States?

  2. Omar Yama Ahmadzadeh says:

    Pakistani government has been run by the military and specialy I.S.I. I.S.I is the rout cause of all problems in the region and in the world. I.S.I is a fundamintalist state within the state of Pakistan and run by Generals loyal to the organisation. The U.S is not in the posision to chalenge a nuclear state like Pakistan and the U.S allies in the war against the traingle of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and I.S.I(Pakistani Inter Service) keep a blind eyes on this front. It is the strategy of Pakistan to keep Afghanistan as a melting-pot of terrorism and fundamintalism in the world. There must be a way out of this miss cearted by the ignorance of the West and the so called friendly state within the state of Pakistan(I.S.I), there will be more losses of life and specialy from the people of Afghanistan and innocent people from the region and around the world if the West do not put thier act together and hit the mother organistaion hard.


    OY Ahmadzadeh
    Head Of AYT Security

    • Omar, hello! Thanks for commenting. It is very interesting to hear what the reaction to Pakistan and ISI is from within Afghanistan.

      It seems to me, and I am sure to many other people that Pakistan is playing a double game: simultaneously currying favor with the US while keeping the door open with the Taliban.

      It is also clear that Pakistani government does not have complete control over the cells within ISI that have ties with the Taliban. In fact, in recent times we have seen the Talibanization of large swathes of Pakistan itself.

      Pakistan is a nuclear state, as you said yourself, and clearly the army-ISI nexus is what controls those weapons. ISI thus does not make for an easy target for the Western coalitions.

  3. I have been missing in action since the first class but now plan to be regularly commenting on this blog. I am finding the readings very interesting. There are so many factors or variables that make the situation in Afghanistan what it is today and I am looking forward to understanding more of it as we go ahead in this class.

  4. The Jackal says:

    Seeing as Pakistan is a nuclear nation and the ISI is a strong organization. What would you suggest that the West do? I agree with putting more demand on the government and having stronger relations with them but they themselves are not that strong as a governmental body.

  5. I was wiki-searching recently on the ISI and it seems that currently the head of the ISI is an ex-Frontier Forces guy named Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

    Apparently he was installed as the chief in Oct 2008, after the removal of Nadeem Taj, who was seen by the US as being pro-Taliban. Pasha is staunchly anti-Taliban and knows the frontier areas well.

    It also seems like there was some tussle on the control over ISI, with the civilian government (the new PM) trying to get a say in the appointment, but ultimately the army prevailed. Pasha is Kiyani’s pick, thus strengthening the link between the ISI and the army.

    After that appointment, it has already been almost 2 years, I am not sure what has happened since. Any one know if there has been a perceptible change in the methods and goals of the ISI?

  6. The Jackal says:

    Interesting?? By what you just said it would seem that the ISI is being reformed. Is this true, is it a front? What percentage favor the Taliban now compared to before? Anyone know??

  7. Omar Yama Ahmadzadeh says:

    The way to start is a serious negotiation with Pakistan over fundamental issues of borders, water and transit routs. It is vital for Afghanistan to once and for all draw a line about her Southern border (the Durand line 19th century). The Taliban are just proxies as it is Al Qaeda to (I.S.I) and it is a continuation of regional hegemony of Pakistan in broader regional confrontation with India. (Pakistan depth of strategy) before 1999 was to create Afghanistan as a battle ground for Indian Army in an eminent Indian attack and nuclear Pakistan of post 1999 behaving in same doctrine prior to 1999. The next option is to apply the strategy of containment over areas (Northern Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan). As the US famously applied “the strategy of containment” during the Cold War, in Afghanistan and the region the war must be contained and the war and fundamentalism of Al-Qaeda shouldn’t spread further to the North of Afghanistan or around the region. It is a fair process of rewarding the people that they are not in favour of the war and they want peace in their homes. It is not only about state any more. It is about groups of individuals and the people



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