By Mac McCallister | Published: May 27, 2010
Read Noah Coburn’s Connecting with Kabul. The information contained in this report is invaluable for the practitioner of population-centric COIN looking for insights into the importance of local patronage networks in Afghanistan. While Coburn’s work focuses strictly on Afghanistan, similarities in patterns of social networking behavior can be found in other traditional societies.
I personally witnessed many of the same characteristics highlighted by Coburn in the patronage networks of the Anbar tribal awakening movement while serving as the Tribal Advisor to the Multi-National Forces-West in 2005-2007.
- Afghan parliamentarians are first and foremost members of local patronage networks, which include formal and informal leaders.
- Patronage networks in rural Afghanistan are not strictly resource or service providers. They are also about social relationships and religious obligations and reinforced through marriage, business, friendship and other social and economic ties. The emphasis in patronage networks is on personal relationships rather than on legal-rational, bureaucratic authority.
- The local patronage network judges its representatives on their ability to provide for resources from the national government and the international community. (more…)