Remember that funny word ‘DDR’? It stood for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. In Afghanistan, it was a program to demilitarise the society after almost 30 years of war. The premise, if you will, was that weapons beget violence; that violence undermines the state; and that the first step towards peace is, therefore, to remove weapons from those not authorised to fire them.
You might notice that I’m speaking in past tense. That’s because DDR is no more. After a short and tortured existence, it has been officially snuffed out by the U.S. military, which, according to news reports, is planning — wait for it — not to reduce violence but to add another layer to it:
For months, Congress has been asking how soon the military could roll out ‘some sort of Awakening movement’—a reference to the Iraq program—in Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials. After initially being rejected by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the plan was developed this fall and approved just over two weeks ago.
But some senior U.S. officials worry privately about launching a program modeled on the U.S.-financed militias of Iraq, given the considerable differences in the wars.
Excuse the language, but — no shit, Sherlock?
International Crisis Group, in its update briefing on the state of policing in Afghanistan, has this to say:
As originally conceived, the program had a security function. Diluted in successive draft proposals, it now entails the appointment of community councils, selected by central government representatives, at the district level in “high risk” areas. As such, this seems less grassroots outreach than a continuance of centralised patronage. IDLG has recently emphasised that the program will not arm community members or manage armed groups. Instead the community councils would help strengthen security by supporting the police and security services, and thus enforce rule of law. If this plan proceeds, it should be ensured that the councils do not compete with the police nor interfere in appointments and operations. There are very real fears that if the councils’ make-up does not accurately reflect all local interests, they will only further fuel perceptions that state security institutions favour certain groups over others.
Josh at Registan has more.