Debate on the organisations of insurgences in Afghanistan and Syria

Spearhead Issue Brief – 28.06.2018

By Hira A. Shafi
Senior Research Analyst, Spearhead Research

Spearhead report on a talk by Dr Antonio Guistozzi in Islamabad.

 Key Points by the speaker:

  • Peshawar Shura & Haqaani Network- centralised command structures
  • Quetta Shura- Decentralised. In the recent past Quetta shura has attempted to centralise the command structure but has failed due to internal oppositions. Their structure has become extremely elaborate. With each sub-faction operating under a shadow governor of a district- local militias he commands, which are further integrated with mobile forces. The mobile forces operate parallel to local militias and are mainly situated in Southern Afghanistan. Each mobile force has its own chain of commands. It is believed that almost 15 or more such mobile units exist- with their respective autonomy.
  • These decentralised structures adopted by some Taliban factions has caused failures in control, fragmentation, competition for power. The recent pull out of Taliban from Farah was primarily a result of inefficiencies stemming from decentralisation. 
  • The decentralised command structures have catered to lack of coordination and gaps in execution of strategy and politicisation of insurgences. But decentralised commands have their own advantages as they add resilience to the insurgency.
  • centralised command structures have highlighted their own set of failures- it is concluded that the eradication of IS from Iraq is due to their highly centralised command structure— effective high profile targeting of IS leaders created chaos in the command chain. Yet at the tactical level- IS has by far been the most effective insurgency because of the centralised command.

Read Full Report: Debate on the organisations of insurgences in Afghanistan and Syria