Afghans Uneasy With US Plan to Fund Militias

Strategy imported from Iraq prompts local fears of civil war
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2008 9:43 AM CST
President George W. Bush walks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 15, 2008.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
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(Newser) – As the US military and Afghan government prepare to arm local militias against the resurgent Taliban, many Afghans are uneasy, fearing that militias formed along ethnic lines could spiral out of control and turn on citizens, reports the New York Times. The plan, which steals a page from the Awakening Councils in Iraq, will begin operating near Kabul next year.

In Iraq, the 100,000 Sunni gunmen who formed the so-called Awakening Councils helped the collapsing country regain stability. Yet as commander David Petraeus arrives in Afghanistan, many are skeptical that a similar militia will reverse the country's deteriorating security situation. "There will be fighting between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns," warned one Afghan MP.  "A civil war will start very soon."