AFGHANISTAN: IS ETHNIC CLEANSING IN ITS FUTURE?

Created: 12/1/1996

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Although the scale of brutalities in Afghan iuan'1 civil war is not comparable lo the ethnic cleansing thai hu occurred in stales of lhe former Yugoslavia, both war- torn regions share disturbing characteristics, including:

Intermingled settlement pal terns. Most Afghan ethnic groups inhabit core areas where they form local majorizes, although Kttlement patterns ate rarely well defined (weor instance, ethnicwith tuba lac tialcaisi in most Afghan provinces. Complicating matters, seine ethnicUzbeks.

and Baloch, for instance -comprise tinyi

wiihin Afghanistan but mainUin ties to much larger popuUuoas of elhmc kinsmen across Afghanistan's national borders. Ethnic rivalries thus have no real internal or international boundaries

Availability of modern weapons. Afghan

factions are well stocked with weapons left over from the anli-Sovict jihad. Using these arms to annihilate or drive out entire ethnic enclaves would pose political and international problems for Afghan militias, but most have the firepower to undertake such operations against unarmed civilians.

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Afjhaniwan; It Ethnic Cleanrine

RefuReci.illion Afghans drawn from most every elhmc communitylanguish in Pakistani and Iranian refugee camps. The picture is different inside the country, however. According to press accounts, the Taliban's advance inio Kabul in September prompted at many0 nonandflee the city and seek communal protection in regions where their ethnic kintmcn reside.

Ethnic panic. Fear of Pashtun oppressionecurring rberne in Afghan history. The rise of an ODCOcipromising Pubtun movement in the form of the Taliban has brought these latent fears to the surface. Opposition to Pubtun domination tends to unite disparate noa-Pasutun factions against the Taliban, thereby deepening the ethnic divide. The absence of an Afghan central government that can defuse potentially munitions I'thnic divisions parallels the Balkan expericnce.f-

Notwithstanding these dangers, we believe ilthat Afghanistan will experience largescale ethnic cleansing campaigns. No commander is known to advocate ethnic cleansingolution to Afghanistan's political problems. Regardless of ethnic affiliation. Afghan factional leaders are not seeking to carve oat independent, ethnically homogeneous mini-siaiis Moreover, there it no appreciable suppon for merging ethnic populations into new state"greater Uzbekistan" for Central Asian aod Afghan Uzbeks, for instance In theory if not in practice, factional leaden accept ihe legitimacyulti-ethnic, Islamic Afghan stale in which rninorilies shareaseasure of protection. [

As In the Balkans, we caution thatogueresortedolicy of ethnic cleansing, ethnic reprisals would spread quickly and would be difficult to stop. Victim communities would seek communal revenge and possibly look for suppon from ethnic kinsmen in neighboring states. [

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tAfghanuian; Ethnicfrom previous page)

Ethnolingnistic Groups and Territory Held by

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