Monday, September 24, 2007

UNAMA- Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan, 2001-2007

The United Nations Mission to Afghanistan has published an overview of Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan, 2001- 2007.

The paper notes that suicide attacks remain an alien phenomenon in Afghanistan. UNAMA has set out to raise awareness on the impact of the continuing conflict on Afghan civilians, and highlights that the victims of suicide attacks around 80% civilian. As has been reported elsewhere, the study notes that the death toll has remained relatively low, given the general ineptness of the bombers themselves.

The resulting guidelines revert to the typically big-picture ambitions associated with the Afghanistan nation-building project.

Immediate efforts are needed to diminish perceptions of a foreign military occupation:
- the counter insurgency forces must reduce civilian casualties and conscientiously work to uphold the dignity and honour of Afghans, to avoid provoking an outraged population into volunteering for jihad
- the Afghan national forces must be supported to increasingly assume responsibility for the provision of more effective security
- means must be found to engage other Muslim countries to help provide security and reconstruction in Afghanistan

Military approaches alone may have only marginal short-term impacts. Immediate political efforts are needed to undermine, contain and even constrict the insurgents’ support base. This will require the Afghan Government to:
- meet the demands of the population whose concerns and frustrations might otherwise drive them embrace the armed resistance
- reduce corruption, oversee fair judicial processes and focus on the provision of public services
- engage all relevant civil society groups - including religious authorities - to build a consensus against suicide attacks and their perpetrators. However, for such civil society actors to step up, their safety must be ensured

Eliminate suicide attacks cells through a mix of law and order, military operations and engagement:
- efforts must be made to compel volunteers to reject violence and adopt more constructive forces of change
- insurgents should be encouraged to express their grievances through political and democratic means

Address the cross border dimension of suicide attacks in Afghanistan:
- Pakistani supportiveness is required to eliminate domestic support for the insurgency in Afghanistan, to address militancy within its own borders, to reform governance in the tribal areas and invest in development
- the international community should encourage Pakistan and Afghanistan to embark upon a process through which all outstanding bilateral concerns are addressed and eventually resolved