Foreign Policy Blogs

Aid Worker Attacks in Afghanistan: Taliban Strategy

Two days ago, a French aid worker was the latest to be targeted by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. In this case the aid worker, who was reportedly an education specialist from an unknown NGO, was kidnapped by a small group of Taliban members, who in the process killed a young Afghan civilian. Reportedly 19 humanitarian aid workers have been killed so far this year, which surpasses the 15 victims of 2007.

Aid Worker Attacks in Afghanistan: Taliban StrategyWhy are the Taliban targeting and killing/kidnapping foreign and local aid workers? Is it because they are foreigners who may be proselytizing Christianity or other religions? This probably has something to do with it. Though many of these aid workers are actually Afghans who share the Taliban's Muslim faith, it is true that there are Western foreigners there from many different NGOs, making them more suspicious.

But I, and Stratfor agrees, believe that they are mainly targeted as way to embarrass/undermine the Afghan government and NATO troop presence. These workers are trying to spread education, health, infrastructure, business, and good governance in the nation, and if they are successful, along with the Afghan government, the Taliban are cooked. As in their ability to replace the government will become less likely. They need to foment instability and chaos in places where the Afghan government is present and solidify their rule where it is absent. Concerning NATO and foreign NGOs, many European nations and groups support for the ISAF and Afghan state building are becoming shaky and less long-term committal, and these aid worker attacks are not making them feel any better. The resolve of the Afghan people, Afghan government, NATO forces, NGOs, and NATO home citizens is being challenged by these Taliban attacks. We have to be ready to meet these challenges, for the alternative is a ruler who believes no one is safe, not even Muslim aid workers building schools.

(Photo Source: New York Times)



Patrick Frost
Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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