The more I think of these extra 30 000 troops trundling into Afghanistan, soon to be followed I fear by other NATO conscripts, the more I think that this is definitely the wrong thing to do. Afghanistan needs all the help it can get in terms of aid and reconstruction, yes, absolutely but I really worry that once again, this new shipment of soldiers will only reinforce the Taliban by giving them a sense of unity and joint purpose: defeat the invader, the kafir farangi . Pashtun tribal groupings spend their life fighting each other, competing for every kind of resource and privilege. Rivalry is the name of the of the game. In Pashto, the term ‘Tarbur’ means enemy and first cousin, because if you’re competing for Grandpa’s inheritance, your cousin is as entitled as you are and therefore an instant rival and enemy. The British knew that and played one group or sub-group against the other to maintain a vague semblance of peace on the border. The Afghans pride themselves that they never have been invaded. This means two things: first, that on rare occasions they have been able to unite against what was perceived as a consensual enemy ; second, that they were busy competing with each other and manipulating different groups (the invader included), thereby creating sufficient confusion making any form of real take over quasi-impossible. Whereas the second option seems to have dominated so far, I really fear that the first may take precedence and that these irate and irascible patriarchs may well turn into fully-fledged Taliban (whatever that means), as least as far as theirĀ  Western enemies are concerned.

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