CRIMINOLOGY OF ARMED CONFLICT
Armed conflict refers to a situation whereby organized armed groups (whether governmental or non-governmental) use armed force to battle each other. Since world war II ended, two hundred and fifty conflicts have been estimated to have occurred throughout all continents in the world (Gleditsch, 2002, p. 615). Consequentially, millions of lives (approximately 70 to 170 million) have been claimed with the majority being non – combatants (cherif, 2008). Almost all regions of the world have been subjected to material and human devastation resulting from state or non-state perpetrators. Moreover, such violations contradict the supposed beliefs and fundamental values of the perpetrators. Research indicates that the cessation of the cold war did not completely terminate armed conflict. Between years 1989 and 2001, a total of 115 armed conflicts had already been recorded. A good part of 2001 saw over 34 conflicts take place in 28 countries. These armed conflicts would include four new outbreaks including the 2001 war in Afghanistan following the September, 11 attacks by Al-Qaeda. This conflict would also be dubbed the global war on terrorism. The parties involved in the conflict, causes of the armed conflict, social or political factors influencing the conflict, and the level of the conflict are hereby discussed.
The U.S war in Afghanistan
The United States war in Afghanistan began after America invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and is dubbed the longest war in American history. Before the invasion, the then president of the United States, Mr. Bush had requested the Taliban to give him Bin Laden and expel his organization; Al-Qaeda. Osama was a terrorist who had been listed on America’s wanted list since 1998. The Taliban’s hesitation to extradite Osama among other most wanted criminals of the September 11 attacks on the grounds of lack of evidence meant they had declined to cooperate with the US government. The American government did not take kindly the delay tactics deployed by the Taliban and also wanted them disbanded (Kelly, 2011). A month after the attacks, the United States officially began Operation Enduring Freedom alongside the United Kingdom. They later gained support from Canada and other forces including all NATO members, a coalition of over 40 countries, and the Northern Alliance that had been fighting the Taliban in a civil war since 1996. The primary aims of the war were to decimate al-Qaeda and make it hard for them to have safe harbors of operation by ousting them from power.
Causes of the conflict
Afghanistan had not been stable for centuries. Fortunately, it managed to free itself from foreign powers and establish itself as an independent country in the early 1900s. In the early 1970’s, the country witnessed several coup d'états in which there was power change among different groups. Later on, a civil war erupted in 1978 that mainly involved the pro- and anti-communist forces in the country. Military forces would later be deployed by the Soviet Union to support the communists thus leading to a bloody conflict. The United States would get involved in the fight and help those fighting the Soviets through providing military assistance and adequate funding. Part of those that were strongly opposed to the Soviet invasion was the Mujahideen that was mainly made up of Islamists (Vermilya, 2017).
During this inter-group level of conflict, over 1 million Afghans died yet the Soviets soldiered on. Over the years that followed, the country saw various extremist organizations and warlords vie for its control over the coming years. Taliban, a fundamentalist group would take over the leadership of the country by the mid-1990s. The establishment instituted harsh regulations in the country and ruled according to the Islamic Sharia law. Unfortunately, they created an environment that nurtured terrorists. One of the veterans that fought against the Soviets, Osama Bin Laden, became the leader of the Al-Qaeda network, one of the vast yet sophisticated terrorist organizations in the world. Bin Laden alongside his followers plotted to attack the USA. Al-Qaeda terroristic plans on the United States came to fruition on September 11, 2001, when they attacked the United States. They achieved this by hijacking four planes with innocent civilians and flying them through the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center. One of the planes was brought down by passengers who tried to brave the hijackers. The attack claimed the lives of approximately 3,000 Americans (Griffin, 2010).
Military strength and war tactics
Since 2001, the Taliban have been at war with the United States and their allies. They have publicly expressed their efforts to cast out the American forces from Afghanistan and oust the official Afghan government supported by the U.S.A which they view as “puppets” of the United States. The strategies and tactics used by the Taliban have been compared to those of the Hamas in Gaza. They’re considered the masters of shielding themselves behind civilians and melting amongst them for protection. They train women and children and equip them to fight, ferry ammunition and arms in battles, and collect intelligence. Female suicide bombers are disturbingly commonplace. They also use women to shield shooters as they engage anti-Taliban forces such as NATO to the extent that it has become normal and not worth mentioning. They routinely booby-trap houses and schools and have their snipers hide in houses that are deliberately filled with children and women. Throughout their period of control, the Taliban maintained a stable military consisting of up to tens of thousands of soldiers ("Taliban Military", 2017). Their army owned numerous sophisticated weapons including;
• Over 200 armored personnel carriers and 400 battle tanks
• The Afghan Air Force under the Taliban government had around ten supersonic jet fighters
• Several military-type helicopters
• Sophisticated jet bombers
• Anti-tank weapons
• The civil air service possessed around seven big air force airbuses
• Sub machine guns, rifles and pistols
• Anti-aircraft artillery
Level of Conflict
The U.S war in Afghanistan can be classified in different levels of conflict. Foremost, It’s critical to consider that the United States and Afghanistan are states in their own right. Therefore, it would be safe to say there is a state conflict between the two countries despite the fact that the current Afghan government is supported by the United States in its efforts to eradicate the Taliban. There is still brewing bad blood between the two countries especially between Americans and the Islamist extremists or Mujahideen who view all nations fighting to end jihad (terrorism) as public enemies. An interpersonal and societal conflict also caused the armed conflict before Americans invaded Afghanistan (Singh, 2012). This type of conflict arose since the Taliban considered other ethnic communities in Afghanistan as foreign. Majority of the members of the Taliban movement came from the Pashtun people who were the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. As the group expanded from their strongholds particularly in the southern and south-eastern areas, they faced more resistance by other ethnic groups who perceived their Deobandi Islam and Pashtun tribal code of Pashtunwali to be foreign. The ethnic tension and conflicts would lead to the battles of Mazar-i-Sharif. All in all, the main causes of the armed conflict are the Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups starting war with a superpower country amid political instability in their own country.
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