Jefferson Morley | August 29, 2019
An Afghan Peace Problem: CIA-Funded Militias
President Trump wants to pull out of Afghanistan. A majority of Congress wants to end the 19 year long war. Peace talks are underway. The women of Afghanistan are bracing for a loss of freedoms possible while under American occupation. An agreement between the United States and the Taliban is in sight.
But then there is “the disposal problem” encountered in the wake of large-scale CIA paramilitary operations: what do you do with the people you’ve been paying to wage war?
A new report from the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute argues that the agreement won’t lead to real peace unless it addresses the elephant in the room: the fate of regional Afghan militias paid and directed by the CIA. “Militias that operate outside the control of the central state and the chain of command of its armed forces will undermine the process of state formation and the prospects for a sustainable peace,” the report reads.
Alex Emmons of The Intercept reports.
CIA-backed militias goes back to 2001, when, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA rapidly organized Afghan militias under its payroll to overthrow the Taliban. This allowed the CIA to send Al Qaeda’s fighters fleeing the country with a minimal U.S. footprint.
Initially, these local militias were viewed as a temporary solution, but they eventually became a permanent fixture of secret CIA operations in the country — sometimes acting without the knowledge of U.S. diplomats and Afghan military leaders.
Not much is publicly known about specific groups the CIA directs, the best known of which is the Khost Protection Force. The force has no basis in the Afghan Constitution or law and operates out of the CIA’s Camp Chapman in the province of Khost.
The CIA’s forces could pose a problem for the Afghan government after the peace talks.
“If cut loose by the CIA,” the report notes, “they may be reborn as private armies or ‘security guards’ in the service of powerful individuals, or operate autonomously to prey on civilians and commercial sources.”