“Give a man a fish,” the saying goes, “and he’ll feed his family tonight. But teach that man to fish and he can feed his family forever.” A simple formula for a simpler time.
Here’s the 21st century version, “Give man a gun, and he’ll use it to tell people when they can fish and where, and take a portion of their catch in the bargain. And use a portion of that profit to buy many more guns and the power that comes with them.”
The proliferation of guns, and machine-shop artillery, and improvised explosive devices so ubiquitous they’re known in an acronym — IEDs is one of the shapers and drivers of today’s global reality.
The easy availability of guns sustains a growing economy of gunners for hire who make wars so easy to start and so hard to bring to an end.
Can anyone see an end to the war in Afghanistan?
Gen. John Nicholson, who is wrapping up his term as commander of American forces says he can says he is encouraged because some elements of the Taliban are willing to talk, off-the-record, about the possibility of peace talks. But what about the other Taliban elements who dismiss the possssibility of peace.
And what about the Islamic State terrorists who are claiming responsibility for more and more of the worst terrorist attacks in Afghanistan?
Think about Syria and Iraq, where a small number of people who share a grievance or a dream can easily can get more than enough weapons to keep IS’s war alive.
In Afghanistan, the tempo of the war has been picking up. The people who track violent clashes in Afghanistan says the numbers are sharply higher since the Trump Administration’s more aggressive tactics have started to take hold. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the numbers are up because US and Afghan Forces have ramped up.
But the Taliban’s hold on rural area seems as great as ever, and its veto on peace, not to mention the Islamic State’s second No vote seem as implacable as ever.
In late May, the US Military announced an air attack on a meeting in the town of Musa Qala in southern Afghanistan in which some 70 “senior Taliban leaders’ were killed.“
How big a deal was that, journalists asked Gen. Nicholson who gave an honest assessment in reply: “I would not call it strategic significance, but it definitely has a significant local significance in terms of the fight in southern Afghanistan.” In other words, in Southern Afghanistan and much of the rest of the country, the war will go on.
“All reporters in Afghanistan,” our guest Ilias Alami, Operations Manager of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) recently told a UN gathering for World Press Freedom Day, “are war reporters, whether they like it or not.”
But the war is not the only thing going on in Afghanistan, and covering those stories — the fading hope for women’s rights, the return of opium to the top of the national agricultural economy, the rise of an Afghan global cricket star now playing in India — is also part of the job of the men and women being more and more frequently targeted or bombs and bullets, the journalists Ilias Alami has been working to nurture and protect.
Ilias started doing this years before I had the pleasure of teaching him and 15 other young Afghans some tricks and standards of the news trade, in November and December of 2010.
Ilias Alami is the Operations Manager of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC). Ilias has been part of AJSC since its inception. Throughout his career in AJSC, Ilias has developed and led many campaigns to end violence against journalists, promoting good and balanced journalism and ending impunity against crimes against journalists in Afghanistan. Ilias started the research and analysis section of AJSC in 2013 that has constantly monitored and produced in-depth analysis and repots on the overall situation of freedom of expression, media and violence against journalists. Ilias has also been a keen advocate of building the capacity of journalists in different fields of personal safety, digital security and the use of new and online media. He has also developed several training manuals on the topics and have conducted numerous training around the country.
Ilias Alami holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Sciences and Public Administration from American University of Afghanistan. He was a Seeds of Peace GATHER 2016 fellow. He also participated in Afghan Voices, a one-year journalism program in 2010 in which one of his instructors was Dave Marash.