Endemic violence in Afghanistan: a socio-cultural perspective

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This paper provides an overview into recent developments in the Afghan conflict and the endemic violence plaguing the country. It argues that the almost exclusive focus on threats generated by the presence of organisations such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State by the U.S.-led coalition has pushed Afghanistan itself into the background, a mere host to the unfolding violence and conflict. This approach has resulted in the generation of primarily military focused solutions that have traditionally delivered temporary fixes and bubbles of security that dissipate as quickly as they are won. In contrast, this paper proposes a framework of analysis grounded in the historical, socio-cultural, and geographical particularities of Afghanistan. It identifies five sources of instability. These are; power dynamics; identity politics; corruption; the fractured nature of the insurgency; and the broader geo-political context. The paper examines how these complex and frequently interconnected sets of issues and relationships have helped to generate, shape, and sustain the endemic violence in Afghanistan. Through the provision of a more nuanced understanding, it may be possible to move away from the temporary relief provided through external military strategies and instead identify opportunities that may provide pathways towards long-term stability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-230
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2018


  • Afghanistan
  • Taliban
  • Al Qaeda
  • terrorism
  • Islamic State
  • Identity Politics
  • Corruption
  • Insurgency


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