Reviews

The book is one of the very first studies that explore in details the newest shifts in the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Although the neo-Taliban insurgency has manifested itself first in early 2003, until now its new political strategy, social background and military tactics remain less covered by the overwhelming majority of contemporary studies. The book chapters are devoted to different aspects of the current Taliban-led resistance movement such as: the sources of insurgency, the social background and reasons of the movement recruitment, the movement’s relations with local tribes and tribal élites; its military and political strategy; and the counter-insurgency efforts undertaken both by Afghan government and Western coalition. The author has spent more than a decade visiting Afghanistan, gathering data and collecting information of practical character. As a result, one of the most obvious advantages of his study is its focus on practical aspects of the explored issues. Each chapter contains a set of concrete data and examples from the ground. With this regard, the last chapter is especially important as it analyses the current counter-insurgency strategy and tactics as well as provides with a set of practical recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of policy and measures undertaken by Afghan Government and Western contingents. As such, the study should attract attention of a wide range of practitioners, policy makers and experts dealing with practical resolution and prevention not only in Afghanistan but in other countries as well. On the other hand, the author has taken on board data and information as well as many perspectives and insights provided by other studies and actors. This has allowed him to analyse and to screen out different sources and materials before elaborating his own conclusions and recommendations. He has managed to trace and identify the main directions and aspects of process of transformation of the Taliban movement, its adaptation to the new requirements and demands of the rapidly changing political and military situation in the region and on the international arena. The book nevertheless misses some other aspects and factors that still play an important and sometimes a decisive role in defining the course of events in Afghanistan. Thus, less attention is given to exploration of geopolitical factors, and the role of Pakistan and its intelligence service in dealing with the neo-Taliban movement remains mainly uncovered by the study. Moreover, the factor of interethnic relations and the impact inter-ethnic rivalry on the neo-Taliban composition and strategy are almost not tackled by the study. However, the dearth of scholarly literature on the issue increases considerably the significance and acuteness of the study, especially in the light of the recent events in Afghanistan, revival and military successes of neo-Taliban insurgency, its unexpected spread to almost entire regions of the country.

Parviz Mullojanov, PublicCentre for Development of Tajikistan, Dushanbe
CER: II-7.4.B-636