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Viewing cable 09KABUL3366, KUNDUZ AUTHORITIES TURN TO MILITIAS AS SECURITY DETERIORATES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KABUL3366 2009-10-19 16:04 2011-01-24 17:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO3704
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #3366/01 2921654
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191654Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2385
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RBDFOBE/COMMCEN ISAF KABUL
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003366

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL MOPS AF
SUBJECT: KUNDUZ AUTHORITIES TURN TO MILITIAS AS SECURITY DETERIORATES

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Provincial authorities in Kunduz, increasingly
alarmed at the deterioration of the security situation in the
province, have turned to a last resort: supporting local mujahedeen
commanders to fight the Taliban. While supporting local commanders
has some short-term security benefits, these are likely to come at
the expense of formal institutions such as the police if there is no
outlook for their future integration into the Afghan National
Security Forces (ANSF). One neighboring governor, Atta Mohammad Noor in Balkh Province, disagreed with the arming of local militias in
Kunduz, and the outgoing German commander of RC-North also signaled his concern. We will continue to monitor the evolution of this
local defense initiative and similar ones throughout the country.

End Summary.

2. (SBU) Kunduz Governor Eng. Mohammad Omar and National Directorate
of Security (NDS) officials announced at a September 13th weekly
meeting on security issues with the PRT and others that they were
providing support to local militias to combat the insurgency.
Kunduz Deputy NDS Chief Karim Atrafi told State PRTOff that, for the
past two months, NDS has been paying mujahedeen commanders so that they could buy arms on the local market. Atrafi added a positive
spin on the program, arguing that it was driving up the cost of arms
on the market, making it more expensive for the Taliban to do
business. Atrafi asserted that the support provided by NDS was
financial only (i.e. not in the form of arms) and that the militia
forces were under the authority of the Afghan National Police
(ANP).

3. (SBU) Based on conversations with the Governor, NDS, UNAMA, and
the PRT's J-9, it appears the effort to support mujahedeen
commanders to fight the insurgency has focused on the districts of
Imam Saheb (northern Kunduz province), Khanabad (eastern Kunduz),
and Qala-e-Zal (northwestern Kunduz). According to NDS, in Chahar
Dara district insurgent infiltration was too high for a similar
effort to be feasible, but the September 4 coalition airstrike
disrupted the insurgent network in Chahar Dara to such an extent
that NDS has also begun efforts there to support friendly militias.

4. (SBU) In Khanabad district, the power broker behind the militias
is the Tajik commander Mir Alam, who was formerly police chief of
Baghlan and who, according to many observers, has ambitions on the
post of Kunduz provincial police chief. Mir Alam's sub-commanders
have reportedly driven out Taliban from villages in the volatile
area of Aqtash; however there are conflicting accounts from ANP and
other sources regarding whether this was done more through
negotiation or actual fighting.

5. (SBU) In Imam Saheb, members of the Uzbek Ibrahimi family (who
hold several key government positions in the area, including Imam
Saheb district police chief, Governor of neighboring Takhar
province, and a seat in parliament) have, along with local
commanders and community elders, pressed Kunduz authorities to
provide them with arms and ammunition. We understand that
authorities initially told them they should have enough arms in
their possession to resist the Taliban. However, when the commanders
themselves came under threat from insurgents, authorities relented
and agreed to have NDS provide them with a limited quantity of
weapons.

6. (SBU) In Qala-e-Zal, militias controlled by Turkmen commander
Nabi Gichi have had some success in fighting the insurgency in the
northern part of the district. According to the Governor and NDS,
Gichi's forces killed twenty insurgents and convinced a Taliban
commander to join the government side. Gov. Omar suggested at a
recent meeting that Gichi should be brought into a government
position.

7. (SBU) Atta Mohammad Noor, the Governor of Balkh Province, has
publicly criticized the move to arm local militias in Kunduz. When
Ambassador Wayne visited RC-North on October 1, outgoing RC-North
Commander Vollmer briefed on his perspective of the sources of
instability and violence, but signaled that he was not comfortable
with the use of militias to counter the problem. He said what was
needed was about 2500 more police in the province.

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) Provincial authorities have become increasingly frustrated
over the past several months over the rapidly deteriorating security
situation in Kunduz province and what they see as the lack of
adequate ANSF (particularly ANP) and ISAF forces to take on the
insurgency. The effort to support local militias to combat the
insurgency is a sign of how deeply frustrated, almost desperate,
KABUL 00003366 002 OF 002
they have become. Their willingness to discuss these efforts, the
legality of which is not clear, suggests they have received a green
light as well as funding from someone in the central government in
Kabul.

9. (SBU) Beyond reversing even the limited progress toward
disarmament made under DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and
Reintegration) and DIAG (Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups)
programs, the implications of supporting local militias to combat
the insurgency are both complex and uncertain. In many cases, these
militias are likely considerably stronger in both numbers and arms
than the under-staffed and under-equipped police, which puts the
official assertion of MoI/ANP control over the militias in doubt. In
addition, provincial authorities do not appear to have plans to
integrate these militias into the ANSF, raising questions about how
long funding for them will continue and what will become of them
(and their arms) once the threat from the insurgency is mitigated.

10. (SBU) The short-term security benefits of supporting militias
led by mujahedeen commanders are significant. However, these
benefits are likely to come at the expense of Afghan institutions
such as the ANP if support to militias is not coupled with GIRoA
monitoring, stepped-up efforts to build up the ANP and a plan to
eventually draw down and disarm the militias or integrate them into
ANSF. In particular, the effort is likely to undermine Gen. Abdul
Rizzaq Yaqubi, an unusually competent and professional provincial
police chief, while at the same time strengthening former commander
Mir Alam, a figure with a history of human rights abuses and
administrative incompetence as police chief of Baghlan. Mission
will continue to monitor closely the evolution of this local defense
initiative and similar ones throughout the country. End Comment.
EIKENBERRY