Welcome to the Tribal Path. The site has been set up by Ken Guest, Lucy Morgan Edwards and 'RAM' Seeger for the purpose of publicising a series of papers that were written to encourage the adoption of what we came to call the Tribal Path. By this we meant the seeking of a Tribal (or Afghan) solution to the current on-going tragedy that is Afghanistan.
We felt that rather than trying to impose a large army and western style government - which ran against the grain of the country and its history, a bottom up system of community based governance would be more likely to succeed. In this, tribal leaders would be empowered with the responsibility for local governance by traditional jirgas (councils), and once this was fully acknowledged and functional - the security of their tribal lands. They would achieve this through the use of tribally raised, and tribally controlled, tribal forces. There would still be a need for effective central government but it would have a lighter footprint to the one currently envisaged. The tribes instead of being excluded and viewed as a problem, would be used as active allies.
In the first of our papers (which in fact was simply a personal account not widely circulated) we argued that rather than the West overthrowing the Taliban with a little bit of Afghan help, it would have been much better if the Taliban had been overthrown by the Afghans with a little bit of Western help, and to this end, we should have given backing and support to Abdul Hak, a renowned Pushtun military leader, who in fact was already plotting the Taliban's overthrow before 9/11.
Our second paper lobbied for the support of Prince Ali Seraj in the 2009 presidential elections. As leader of the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan (NCDTA), Prince Ali was a firm believer in the untapped potential of the tribes.
Our third paper covered the Tribal Path in depth, while our fourth warned against the dangers of negotiation and claimed that by engaging with the Afghan majority, it could be given what it has always wanted - no war and no return of the Jihadist Taliban.
We then went on to maintain that the best way of getting in contact with ordinary Afghans and marginalising the Taliban, was by reducing the power and scope of the central government, establishing semi-autonomous regions and following the Tribal Path.
All of us have had extensive practical outside-the-compound experience of Afghanistan - Ken and Lucy in particular. We have much affection and respect for the Afghan people and are greatly saddened at the way things have unfolded. Brief bios follow below.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ken Guest is a former Royal Marine and photo-journalist. He has recently been working in Kabul and has now been closely involved with Afghanistan for 33 years. During its struggle against the Soviets, he probably spent more time inside Afghanistan, living and working with the Mujahedin, than any other Western witness to that conflict. As a result of that past, he has a first hand knowledge of not just how the ordinary Afghan thinks, but how the Taliban and Al Qaeda think and act. Ken has written, contributed to and illustrated several books and feature articles, e.g. Flashpoint! (Brassy's) and British Battles (Harper Collins) and most recently at the request of the ICRC 'The dynamic interplay between Islam and Conflict in Afghanistan' (International Review of the Red Cross, Vol 82, No 880, Dec 2010).
'RAM' Seeger is a former Royal Marine who left the Corps in 1976 after commanding the Special Boat Squadron (SBS). He won a Military Cross with 40 Commando during the Borneo confrontation, was an instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and attended the Army staff college at Camberley. After leaving the Corps he set up a Special Force for the Sultan of Oman and then became a security consultant. During the early 1980s he made a number of trips into occupied Afghanistan to give training and help to the Mujahedin. Most of these were to the Panshir valley for Ahmad Shah Massoud. After this he did an MA in War Studies at King's College London. In 2001 he lobbied for western support of Abdul Haq, along with Ken Guest and another friend and colleague - Sir John Gunston.
Lucy Morgan Edwards is a researcher in politics and regional studies at the University of Exeter. She first worked in Afghanistan during the Taliban period, running urban development projects for UNCHS in Kandahar and Herat. The 'community forum' aspect of these programmes later became known as the National Solidarity Programme. After spending five years in Afghanistan as an election monitor, researcher on transitional justice for the International Crisis Group and correspondent for the Economist, she was Political Advisor to the EU Ambassador (with responsibility for security sector reform, narcotics and civil military relations). She was then 'country expert' to the EU Chief Election Observer on the 2005 Parliamentary elections. She has written a book on her experiences of the current intervention whose central theme is an investigation of the internal plan for toppling the Taliban advocated by famed resistance commander, Abdul Haq, using the ex-King Zahir Shah as a rallying point.
Ken Guest - ken firstname.lastname@example.org
'RAM' Seeger - email@example.com
Lucy Morgan Edwards - firstname.lastname@example.org