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Securing Helmand

October 1, 2009

a new report out by the Institute for the Study of War, a very detailed and concise report on the Taliban structure and command lines within the Helmand Province.

It also looks like the Taliban leadership has been taking the lessons of counter-insurgency to heart themselves, as they are clearly demonstrating an increased intent at winning ‘hearts and minds’ of the very people they were brutally ruling before the American invasion of 2001.

a sample paragraph:

Securing Helmand – Understanding and responding to the enemy
by Jeffrey A. Dressler

The enemy system in Helmand is resourced and directed by the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST), a reorganized
leadership structure based on the early 1990s Supreme Shura that served as the governing body of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan prior to 2001. The QST is headed by Mullah Mohammad Omar, who calls himself the Amir-ul-Momineen or leader of the faithful.

The term ‘Quetta Shura’ originated from Mullah Omar’s relocation of the Taliban organization to Quetta during the winter of 2002. Mullah Omar and his group continue to refer to themselves as the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan, despite being removed from power in 2001. Currently, the QST’s leadership structure is comprised of two main bodies, the Rahbari shura, and the Majlis al-shura. The Rahbari shura (leadership council) was created by Omar in March of 2003, and is essentially an updated version of the Supreme Shura with an estimated ten to thirty-three members. The Majlis al-shura (consultative council) is a newer creation, formed between September and October of 2006 and comprised of thirteen members, most of whom are members of the Rahbari shura, and a selection of “advisors.” Responsible for the Taliban’s operations in southern and much of western Afghanistan, the QST is the “intellectual and ideological underpinning of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.” The remainder of the QST senior leadership is filled-out by members of the two shuras.

The QST has established two new committees, both of which reflected its ability to adapt to the evolving conflict; the first deals with grievances from commanders and fighters while the second addresses complaints from Afghan villagers. Addressing and resolving issues of the QST’s commanders and fighters is meant to improve the solidarity and cohesion of the movement. Far more interesting is the QST’s desire to provide restitution to local populations, a clear attempt to improve the organization’s standing in the local communities by reigning-in rogue elements. In the past, villagers have complained of thievery, mistreatment and excessive brutality at the hands of the Taliban. Coinciding with the establishment of these committees, the QST released an updated “code of conduct” for fighters and commanders operating under their banner in Afghanistan. The new code prohibits: disfigurement, forcible collection of “donations,” kidnapping for ransom and the searching of homes without occupants’ permission. The new code of conduct, along with the establishment of two new committees demonstrates a distinct shift in the QST’s modus operandi, clearly a conscious decision by QST senior leadership to win the support of the population.

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