Afghan Forces Afghan People

Female militias are just another bad idea

Before we get too excited about an all-female militia, let’s think about why this might be a bad idea.

It’s a world where a man can brag about grabbing gals by their gal parts and still get elected president of the United States. So maybe we’re not in a post-misogynist age quite yet. Which means that anytime a Brown lady wants to go full Malcolm and get her “by any means necessary” on, the Noble Order of White Helpfulness wants to stand up and applaud.

Because what’s not to like about a bad ass in a burqua sporting an AK-47, assuming of course she’s on our side? True, the woman in the photo above is carrying an M4, and that’s a shot of training being done by Afghan women who will be supporting Afghan special forces troops. So it’s a bit of a red herring.

And the quote’s from one Gul Bibi, Jawzjan resident and pissed off grandma who’s tired of the Islamic State killing off her family members. She’s lost nine of them to Daesh, and she’s decided to do something about it. So she does what one does in a society where you still decide things with a gun.

She joined a local militia.

And she’s not alone. According to the story from The Wire, she’s one of about 100 women who have done the same thing. They approached a local police commander and gave him what might be termed an ultimatum.

“They came to me and said that if I didn’t provide them with weapons they would kill themselves – before Daesh or the Taliban could,” Ali told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

So either Ali got them the guns, or he’s looking at having mass suicide on his hands. And any ladies prepared to take up arms against the Islamic State are probably ready to name names in the suicide note. Which would not make for a great headline.

So he gave them the guns.

And that was all.

Which is part of the problem. And it’s a big problem. Because this is another paramilitary group without government support.

Even though said militia’s made up of a lot of pissed off moms and grandmas which is cool as hell and makes for a great movie script, it’s just as much of a problem as when said militia is made up of dudes.

They have no training

This means they’re a threat to themselves and to others. And untrained troops historically do not fare well when it comes to training. Which means that even though Ali avoided the suicide solution, he might still end up with the blood of some well-meaning Afghan women on his hands.

Or in a more likely scenario, when Grandma Gul starts kicking off with the PKM, she ends up putting a few rounds through the grandkids sleeping next door. And because that’s likely to happen when Afghan forces are around and grandma just wants to help out, guess who gets blamed for dead kids?

Which further undermines the government, and said government’s not on terribly firm ground to begin with. And since grandma’s telling Daesh to say hello to her little friend because she doesn’t trust the government to protect her family in the first place, this just gets worse.

They’re not a part of government structures

“We do not support any armed group, unless they come under one of our forces,” Najib Danish, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, said from Kabul.

This means that local Afghans are taking into their own hands their particular fate. And they feel that they can protect themselves better than the Afghan government can. And they’re not wrong.

Afghan security forces have had a hard time over the last year trying to stay alive. Much less pushing back the Taliban from areas that the Boys from Balochistan control. Which is getting to be more and more of the country as they year goes on.

And 2017 looks to be setting the same kind of trend: Afghan forces are constantly responding to Taliban attacks, rather than going firmly on the offensive and taking the fight to the enemy. So long as this continues, people like Gul Bibi are going to keep on trying to protect themselves.

Whether it’s all true or not is irrelevant: this is a war about perceptions more than anything. And if Gul Bibi has really lost nine family members to any insurgents at all, then she’s probably pretty justified in taking up arms against her oppressors.

This undermines the government

Of course this is in Jawzjan, which is Vice President Dostum’s stomping ground. Who, when he’s not allegedly sodomizing political rivals with an assault rifle, is leading military operations in Jawzjan.

Which is not part of his job, but who wants to be the one to tell Abdul Rashid Dostum that he’s wrong? That’s not a job one does lightly, and it’s not one that anyone’s going to take on anytime soon.

When one of your vice presidents is getting ahead of his mandate and leading military operations, it makes it hard to tell the people he’s supporting to knock that shit off and put the guns away. Which isn’t helpful when the government in Kabul is trying hard to convince everyone that things are going fine and they’ll get this insurgency thing sorted any day now.

So they’re just wrong, right?

Yes and no: because while I’d like to ask the Afghan people to be patient and wait for government forces to come to their aid, that’s hard to do when you’ve got all kind of insurgents running loose in your neighborhood.

And so they’re doing what people with access to guns do when faced with guns ever since the Americans said “Thanks, King George!” and dumped tea into Boston Harbor. Only this time it’s a lot of automatic weapons and it’s moms and grandmas which is only going to end poorly for someone. Probably the moms and grandmas.

It would be easy to herald this as local heroism, when what’s happening is a not-so-subtle fuck you to the government in Kabul. Coming as it does from the home base of Afghanistan’s most notorious vice president, this does nothing to make it easier to reign in the Shipping Container King.

It’s another case of good intentions ending in bad things. One more sign that things are not going well in Afghanistan. And in the graveyard of common sense, the way of the gun is still the only way in Jawzjan.