Afghan Bamiyan Province at Risk from Insurgents

Wikistrat analyzes unusual insurgency violence in Afghanistan which feeds into fears about the imminent NATO withdrawal.

Afghanistan’s central province of Bamiyan has long been a safe haven from the violence that plagues the eastern and southern provinces but insurgent violence has picked up in recent months, starting a dangerous and troubling trend.

The Bamiyan Province has been shielded from the majority of past insurgent violence both because of its central geographical location and its population’s strong anti-Taliban mentality.

Insurgent violence has been building these past months. Recently, two roadside bombs in the province, only five days apart, took the lives of dozens of Afghan civilians and police officers. Those who reside in the wartorn state share concerns that insurgents will capitalize on the power void left behind after the withdrawal of foreign military troops.

July’s bombings in Bamiyan are particularly disconcerting because the province has long been considered a very secure location and was the first point of power transition from NATO to Afghan troops. Mounting insurgency violence in what was once deemed an “island of security” paints a less than desirable picture in the context of the NATO withdrawal from the region.

The attacks against Afghan police officers were unprecedented in terms of their boldness and lethality. The provincial governor says its police forces are not prepared to fight insurgents and need more weapons and training. More cooperation between leaders and assistance from the Afghan army have been suggested as ways to counter this problem.

Analysis

The two bombings in the Bamiyan Province indicate the Taliban’s push into less violent regions to convey a message of weakened security and the spillover of violence from more dangerous provinces.

This summer, the Taliban have increased their attacks in central and northern provinces in Afghanistan that have experienced lower frequency of attacks. These attacks are designed to portray the Afghan government as unable to provide security to the people. In weakening the perception of guaranteed security, the Taliban is feeding into Afghan fears that violence will steadily increase after foreign troops withdraw.

The latest attacks in Bamiyan Province also show how violence in neighboring provinces can spill over into more secure areas. The instability in the neighboring provinces of Baghlan, Parwan and Wardak strengthens the ability of the Taliban to strike calmer regions that are anti-Taliban.

Wikistrat Bottom Lines

Opportunities

Supplying more Afghan troops or police to Bamiyan to secure the province, then push into the less peaceful neighboring provinces.

Risks

The Bamiyan Province continues to experience bombings that destabilize the region.

Dependencies

How the Afghan government reacts to increased attacks in Bamiyan (as well as other central and northern provinces).

Jason Becknell, Phillip Ostroff, Zoya Sameen and Timothy Woodard contributed to this analysis.