09:21 GMT +318 January 2020
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    Following recent Taliban gains in the north of Afghanistan and ongoing instances of violence, local security forces are coming under fresh scrutiny, with a report accusing the US-funded Afghan Local Police (ALP) of destabilizing the country, and in some cases, empowering militia groups.

    Concerns over the long-term safety of Afghanistan and effectiveness of the ALP were heightened after the Taliban recently gained control of district administration centers in the country's north for the first time since the beginning of the insurgency.

    According to a report from the International Crisis Group, in many cases the ALP have actually been found to be empowering or creating local militia groups who aren't accountable to Afghan government forces.

     

    The ALP forces were put together as part of a controversial American strategy aimed at organize local villagers into a security force to combat Taliban incursions in remote parts of Afghanistan.

    The group's report, titled 'The Future of the Afghan Local Police' points out that the ALP have also been seen as a destabilizing force in the country, with violence increasing in many areas in which they operate.

    Concerns Over ALP Expansion Plans 

    While the ALP program was initially designed to be a short-term plan to cover shortages in Afghanistan's security forces, the high levels of violence in the country, combined with the withdrawal of the majority of the US-led military forces, has led to suggestions that the ALP may have expanded from 29,000 to 45,000.

    There are concerns that any expansion of the ALP may further destabilize an already politically volatile country, while it has also raised questions over what was considered to be a hasty US exit from the country, with critics against the withdrawal saying it took place without a proper exit strategy.

    "It's getting harder to fight the war in Afghanistan as the Afghan forces shoulder the burden of the mess left behind by the international forces," IGC senior Afghanistan analyst Graeme Smith said.

    "There's a strong temptation amongst the Afghan leadership and some of the foreign donors to reach for a quick and dirty solution, which is to expand the militias."

    'Spring Is Coming — Now They Are Waking Up'

    Among some of the major concerns from the report are the incidents of abuse carried out by some of the ALP militiamen. 

    A US survey of special operations forces in 2011 found that 20 percent of ALP workers were guilty of some form of "physical abuse/violence." 

    Among other instances of malpractice, the US special forces' survey found that 12 percent of ALP staff took bribes, 20 percent were involved with either fraud or theft while others had witnessed rape, drug trafficking, drug abuse and the selling of ALP weapons and equipment.

    Extortion is thought to be commonplace among the forces, with more startling findings from the ICG report revealing that bounties were often placed on the lives of some people.

    "Some reports have even described ALP commanders selling the lives of their men: one allegedly accepted bribes equal to $500 per head to murder subordinates and killed six before capture. ALP in Faryab province were accused of raping, looting and keeping a torture chamber with snakes at the bottom of a dry well."

    The sense of lawlessness in these regions is considered to be a factor further driving conflict, which has only increased following the withdrawal of a large majority of US forces.

    "The ALP are like snakes in winter," the report quotes one tribal elder as saying about the ALP following the US withdrawal.

    "Spring is coming, and they are waking up."

    Related:

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    Afghan Army Wipes Out 49 Militants in Massive Security Crackdown
    US Has Yet to Meet Conditions to Extend Stay in Afghanistan – Ex-President
    Tags:
    Middle East, US Special Forces, militia, conflict, military, destabilization, western medling, police, troops, US Military, United States, Afghanistan
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