A blog providing news, analysis, insight, and commentary on the war in Afghanistan.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Balkh PGov: Strongman of North Afghanistan
Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, the Provincial Governor (PGov) of Balkh province has been in his position for over ten years when he was first appointed by President Karzai. Atta is a former school teacher, turned mujahedeen fighter, turned warlord, and now governor. He has many supporters who say he has brought economic prosperity and security to Balkh province and the large city of Mazar-e Sharif. His critics say that political freedom is at a minimum, he is corrupt, manages a massive criminal patronage network, is suspected of human rights abuses, has his own private militias, and is just a powerful warlord appointed to a governorship. The international Coalition, in the past Regional Command North or RC-North, and now Train Advise, Assist Command - North (TAAC North) recognize the governor for who he is - a rich, powerful, influential governor with a firm grasp of the political, economic, criminal, and security environment. I spent many months at Camp Marmel (where the regional command for ISAF was headquartered) and it was apparent that the most powerful figure in northern Afghanistan was Noor. His information (intelligence network) is widespread and effective and he has good control over the police in his province. Read more in "Afghanistan's defining fight: Technocrats vs. strongmen", The Washington Post, April 12, 2015.