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Afghan Villagers Fight the Taliban, Karzai Resists Local Militias

5:09 PM, Jul 13, 2010 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Local Afghan villagers in the southeastern province of Ghazni have defeated a Taliban force that crossed from the neighboring province of Uruzgan. ISAF tells the story:

Numerous Taliban and one Afghan civilian were killed when an unknown number of insurgents made an unsuccessful attack on the village of Dalai Shame, Ghazni province today.

Early this morning insurgents moved from Khas Uruzgan District, Uruzgan province, to Ghazni province and attacked the village, which is mainly populated by Afghan security forces and their families.

After initial attempts to penetrate the village, Taliban fighters were met with effective resistance by residents and the insurgents fled the scene.

The incident is another example of villagers repelling insurgents. Back in April 2010, insurgents attacked the villagers of Gizab District.

The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran has an account of the local rebellion against Taliban incursions in the remote region of Gizab in the central province of Daykundi. A local militia backed by U.S. special forces and known as the "Gizab Good Guys" (shades of the oddly named "Concerned Local Citizens" from Iraq in 2007-2008) rose up against the Taliban and ejected them from their villages.

The revolt of the Gizab Good Guys began with a clandestine 2 a.m. meeting. By sunrise, 15 angry villagers had set up checkpoints on the main road and captured their first prisoners. In the following hours, their ranks swelled with dozens of rifle-toting neighbors eager to join.

Gunfights erupted and a panicked request for help was sent to the nearest U.S. troops, but the residents of this mountain-ringed hamlet in southern Afghanistan held their ground. By sundown, they managed to pull off a most unusual feat: They kicked out the Taliban.

"We had enough of their oppression," Lalay, the one-named shopkeeper who organized the uprising, said in recounting the late April battle. "So we decided to fight back.

Villagers in Daykundi also came to the aid of the Afghan police after a Taliban force of 50 fighters attacked in mid-June.

As this Washington Post article notes, Afghan President Hamid Karzai does not support the creation of local militias, nor does U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. And two days ago, the newly appointed Afghan minister of the interior backed up Karzai in his opposition.

Officially Karzai says he opposes the creation of additional private militias, despite the fact that his own brothers run numerous private militias. Multiple sources tell me that privately Karzai is concerned for two reasons: these militias would be at odds with the militias created by his brothers and supporters, and he fears the U.S. may use these militias to overthrow his government.

One of General Petraeus's biggest challenges in Afghanistan will be getting the Afghan government to support the local militias, which have traditionally provided for their own security. Petraeus's task in Iraq was actually a lot easier. Despite many reports of Prime Minister Maliki's opposition to the tribal Awakenings that rose up against al Qaeda in Iraq, Maliki actually was supportive of the Awakening councils and was instrumental in allowing them to battle al Qaeda.

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