CSRC Working Paper 11

The Missing Ingredient: non-ideological insurgency and state collapse in Western Afghanistan, 1979-1992
Working Paper No : 11 (series 2)
Author(s) : Antonio Giustozzi
Date : February 2007

This paper studies the jihad movement in Afghanistan, in particular within Herat province in the west of the country. It examines the problems that arise when trying to explain the failure of these organisations to maintain, or re-establish, a nation-wide state structure after 1992 and argues that the ultimate cause of failure was the weak role of ideological organisations in the original jihadi movement. It goes on to seek explanations for why ideological actors remained marginal in the struggle.

The author differentiates the types of local politico-military leaders as strongmen, warlords and commanders. Strongmen control a portion of territory, mainly through armed force although they may have some degree of political legitimacy due to their local roots and their ability to provide security. Warlords are distinguished by their military capabilities and control a certain amount of territory, either directly or indirectly, yet rarely enjoy much in the way of political legitimacy. Commanders, on the other hand, derive their legitimacy not purely from military exploits but also from their attachment to a political project and the recognition offered by a political leadership.