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In the recent era of state formation in Afghanistan, hundreds of small popular movements rebelled against the Taliban throughout the country. One in particular stands out – the Andar Uprising in the spring of 2012 gave a compelling case of local vigilantism in an area ripe with historic grievances and narratives of community defense dating back to the anti-Soviet jihad. This case is compelling as it shows one faction of the movement engaging in protective paramilitary behavior over the civilian population, while the other faction engages in predatory behavior. Controlling processes, incentives structures, and narratives were all factors correlating to the rise of a popular anti-Taliban resistance in Andar District that battled the Taliban and perceived oppression in their district. When patrons and the community engaged in complementary governance over the paramilitary group, in this case through the Afghan Local Police (ALP), paramilitary behavior was protective of the civilian population. However, when patrons and communities failed to provide complementary governance, as the case of the remaining Uprising force after ALP institutionalization, the paramilitaries engaged in predation on the local population.

“A double-edged sword: the people’s uprising in Ghazni, Afghanistan,” Small Wars and Insurgencies 28:3 (2017): 576-608. DOI: