N. A. TSVETKOVA, Candidate of Historical Sciences Saint Petersburg State University
Afghanistan Keywords:, information warfare, public diplomacy, USA, Pakistan
The upcoming withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan in 2014 may significantly increase the threats to security and stability not only in Afghanistan, but also in the entire region. Accordingly, the importance of non-military efforts in the humanitarian and socio-economic spheres is increasing in order to ensure the stability and sustainable development of this country in the so - called transition period until the end of 2014 and in the "decade of transformation (transformation)", covering the decade after 2014 (2015-2024)*.
The information component also plays an important role. The new strategy for Afghanistan announced by Barack Obama in December 2009 * * involved not only increasing the intensity of military operations, but also implementing a set of measures aimed at countering the spread of the ideology of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and attracting the elite and population to the side of the Afghan government and the United States and its supporters. other countries.
This also applies to Pakistan, whose territory, especially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the Northwestern Border Province), serves as the rear base of the Afghan militants*** and the epicenter of their propaganda war against the United States and its allies in the international coalition.
Various propaganda operations of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants against coalition forces in Afghanistan, supported by terror attacks (sending out intimidating "night letters", killing and capturing Afghans who cooperate with coalition forces, setting fire to American schools, creating mobile and elusive radio stations, etc.), are a formidable weapon.
In these operations, provocative Islamophobic attacks by right-wing Western extremists are effectively used, such as cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad or clips of the film "Innocence of Muslims"posted on the Internet. For its part, Washington strongly denies these attacks. In a speech at the UN General Assembly, US President Boris Johnson Obama called the anti-Islamic tape "gross and disgusting," stressing that "the US government has nothing to do" with the video and regards it as "an insult not only to Muslims, but also to America."1
Washington's counter-propaganda campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan includes such areas as the information war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, training social and professional groups, and conducting campaigns against media jihad on the Internet.
However, representatives of the US Army, including former commanders-in-chief of the coalition forces, in particular, General D. Barno, have repeatedly admitted that the US is losing a propaganda war to the Taliban.2
The effectiveness of Taliban propaganda is achieved due to the simplicity of slogans and the effectiveness of the methods they use to discredit US policy. In Afghanistan, where radio, the press and the mosque remain the main sources of information dissemination, the Taliban uses traditional channels of influence on the population.
The main mouthpiece of Taliban propaganda is the underground radio " Sha-
* For more information, see: Dobrinskaya O. A. Tokyo: an emphasis on Non-military aspects of settlement in Afghanistan / / Asia and Africa Today, 2012, No. 11 (ed.).
** For more information, see: Rusakov E. M. Knutom i pryanikom [Knutom and pryanik] / / Asia and Africa Today, 2010, No. 8 (ed. ed.).
*** For more information, see: Panichkin Yu. N. Pakistan-Afghanistan. Restless Border / / Asia and Africa Today, 2010, N 3 (editor's note).
Riat" (Radio Shariat). According to US experts, it is popular in many provinces of Afghanistan, especially in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan3. This radio station was created in 1996 after the establishment of the Taliban regime. After the start of the operation in Afghanistan, the United States banned Radio Sharia, and its office is used by Radio Afghanistan, which restored its broadcasting with the help of the Americans. However, Sharia Radio was reconstituted by the Taliban in 2005, and it broadcasts nightly on mobile radio stations.
The leitmotif of the radio programs is calls to fight against the US and NATO coalition forces, called "occupiers". Speeches of the leaders of the "insurgents" (this is the name of the Taliban movement in American documents) are also transmitted. The most popular speaker is Mullah Mohammed Omar. Radio is actively used by the Taliban to intimidate local residents, blackmail and threaten them. This theme is dominated by stories about terrorist attacks against the "occupation" forces and the Afghans who cooperate with them4.
In addition to radio, traditional DT propaganda includes so-called nightly letters or leaflets that call on Afghans to donate money to jihad and harm coalition forces. The leaflets emphasize that " the invaders have occupied the sacred land and our courageous people, and that is why jihad has been declared against the American occupation in our country and around the world. It is the duty of every Muslim to participate in this holy war."5. The leaflets also contain threats to punish those Afghans who cooperate with the Americans. There is no doubt that these threats are affecting Afghans, forcing them to refuse to participate in US government projects. They have put the brakes on the increase in the number of local police and the army, which should replace the coalition forces by the end of 2014.
The effectiveness of the impact of Taliban propaganda on the local population is also achieved due to the fact that threats on the radio and in leaflets are followed by actions. For example, in 2009, the house of a Pakistani journalist, R. Baeiri, who worked with the Voice of America radio station, was burned down because of his unflattering reports about the Taliban.6 Extremists set fire to American schools, threaten and maim the Afghans and Afghan women who attend them, and destroy books in educational institutions set up by the US government. 7
Taliban propagandists understand that threats and calls to jihad alone, despite their effectiveness, cannot win the information war. Intercepting the slogans of the coalition forces in Afghanistan, they began to advocate for improving the socio-economic situation of the country, ridding it of corruption, transparency in governance at all levels, and expanding the rights of women.
Mullah Mohammad Omar is constantly heard in leaflets and on the radio saying that when the Taliban return to power, they will implement reforms that Karzai's corrupt government is unable to implement. The idea of the Taliban as an alternative to Karzai's weak, puppet and unpopular government is having a serious impact on the population, becoming one of the main reasons for the new wave of popularity of the Taliban.
In Pakistan, in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which borders on Afghanistan, there is a rapid growth of various FM radio stations. Over the past five years, radical Islamists have created about 150 radio stations that broadcast to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The most popular of them is FM Mullah, or Radio Mullah, owned by Mullah Fazlullah, which has been operating in the Swat Valley since 2005. 8 Mullah Fazlullah himself runs a theological school in the valley, personally conducts radio broadcasts, and is popular among residents of the area due to his good oratory skills.
According to American experts, the main hotbed of anti-Americanism in Pakistan is the higher Islamic spiritual schools of Muslims (madrassas). They are engaged not only in anti-American propaganda, but also conduct military training.-
ku potential terrorists. Moreover, almost 20 thousand people study in such schools. New madrasahs are opened every year and the number of their students is constantly growing. They are closely associated with Pakistani theological schools and tens of thousands of private mosques in Afghanistan.9
WHAT DO THE AMERICANS OPPOSE?
The current US counter-propaganda strategy is formulated in a document called " Public Diplomacy: strengthening the United States 'engagement with the world" and "Public Diplomacy: a National Strategic Imperative", both published in 2009 and 2010.
This strategy involves an immediate response to information from ideological opponents of the United States, support for "moderate voices" in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the creation of a civil society. "Creating a platform for moderate voices in these two countries, developing democratic institutions and civil society, and promoting the image of the United States as a long-term partner" is the main weapon in the fight against the propaganda of ideological enemies of the United States. And the creation of a free press, reducing the influence of extremist propaganda, and strengthening ties between the United States and Pakistan will be able, in Washington's opinion, to make this country a partner of the United States in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.10
Based on this overall strategy, in January 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally outlined the Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy. In this document, the US Government has identified the target audience for public diplomacy programs in these two countries: the political elite, businessmen, the military, students of Pakistan's spiritual academies, the academic community, TV and radio stars, and women of the two countries.11 The US Congress allocated $7.5 billion. for public diplomacy programs such as building democratic institutions, promoting women's civil rights, training military professionals, students, and political leaders-as well as information projects through 2014.12 By comparison, the Obama administration has requested $770 million for 2013 to "build democracy" in all Arab Spring countries and for programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan alone - $1.8 billion. annually.
Attempts to squeeze the Taliban and Al-Qaeda out of the media field in Afghanistan are being made by creating new TV and radio channels or new programs on local channels. One of the most notable activities of the US government* is the creation of new Western - style programs (talk shows or soap operas) on Afghan television and the involvement of the female population of Afghanistan in these programs. Music, the Western image of Afghan presenters, the image of a new and free woman in Afghanistan, as well as the positive charge of such programs made talk shows popular among the Afghan population. In addition, feature films are being created that promote the new future of Afghanistan. For example, a series was made about a brave Afghan policeman who fights corruption, as well as with representatives of extremist groups. And the documentary film "Life after Death" tells about those families whose members died in the war.
* The federal government in the United States refers to Congress and the White House (editor's note).
the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as in the terrorist attacks in Spain, Egypt and Jordan. After the scenes about the terrorist attacks, the film shows interviews with relatives of the victims. The film has become one of the tools to counter the video propaganda of Al-Qaeda, which uses the same videos about terrorist attacks in a favorable light.
Since television is available only to a part of Afghan society living in urban areas, radio remains the main tool of the US fight against the propaganda of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Washington has created several radio stations that broadcast to Afghanistan. Leading radio stations - "Free Afghanistan" (Radio Azadi) and " Voice of America "(Radio Ashna) broadcast in Dari and Pashto languages for 12 hours a day. All radio programs are duplicated on the Internet, and some of them are broadcast on central Afghan television for one hour. The first 30 minutes of the broadcast are devoted to information that is transmitted to Dari, and the second 30 minutes. - in Pashto. Traditionally, 50% of programs are news, 25% each - talk shows and music. American experts say that these radio stations cover 65% of the population, and 19% of Afghans watch radio programs on television.13
Two other radio stations-Radio Svet (Radio Deewa) and Radio Svetoch (Radio Mashaal) - broadcast in the north-western region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As noted above, the propaganda of American opponents in this region is most effective, and the Americans are not able to adequately respond to it for several reasons. First, the majority of the population in this region speaks Pashto, and traditional Western media was distributed in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan,or Dari. Secondly, while in other parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan the population owns mobile phones, here digital technologies are just beginning to be mastered. Therefore, it is still difficult to launch interactive programs on American radio and television stations.14
In 2006, the United States managed to create a radio station "Svet", and in 2010 - a radio station"Svetoch". Their main audience is Pashtuns living in the territory of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan. The format of the programs of these radio channels differs from the traditional radio programs of American radio stations. They mainly cover the problems of Islam and the actions of suicide bombers, the political goals of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The main message of the programs is to show that the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States are fighting together against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The lack of equipment and qualified journalists, as well as the need to provide the population with radio receivers that pick up the frequencies of these radio stations, are the problems that US Americans have been dealing with in recent years. Moreover, the work of radio stations is constantly interrupted by attacks by the Taliban on journalists of these channels.
Finally, it has repeatedly turned out that representatives of the Taliban spoke on radio stations, who harshly criticized the United States. Such incidents often occur on surrogate American radio stations, since both journalists and members of the administration of such channels are recruited from the local population. It is difficult to talk about the effectiveness of these radio stations. There is also no precise data on the proportion of population coverage. Some official US sources indicate that these two radio stations attract about 14% of the audience in the border provinces.
According to official US statistics, all four radio stations cover 56% of the world's population.%
Afghanistan adult population weekly 15.
When forming the US public diplomacy strategy against the ideology of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, US government officials indicated that mobile communications would be used as the main means of spreading information among the people of Afghanistan. Mobile phones are spreading much faster in Afghanistan than the Internet. Based on official statistics, in 2009, 43 people out of 100 in Afghanistan used a mobile phone out of a population of 28 million (in Pakistan - 52 people out of a population of 187 million). In other words, informing citizens via SMS messages, as Washington believes, is the most productive way to counter the propaganda of the Taliban. As of 2011, American radio stations (such as Radio Azadi) were reaching more than 100,000 Afghans via news distribution.16
Finally, another project can be called creating games for mobile phones. These games, in addition to a set of standard functions, teach English and tell about the history of the United States. One of these games, X-Life, was created by American specialists with financial support from Washington. The game is designed for young people who speak Pashto, Dari and Urdu. By creating their own playing field, the user becomes one of the international students who came to the United States under the exchange program from these countries. The player finds himself in various situations that introduce him to the traditions of the American way of life, the political system and financial relations. This is not to say that the game is popular in Afghanistan. About 2 thousand people use it on their phone. The official website of the game does not hide its connection with the US State Department, indicating that the game is one of the tools of "US digital diplomacy" 17.
EDUCATION AS A MEANS OF COMBATING EXTREMISM
U.S. training and exchange programs are aimed at raising the level of education of the population in the expectation that this may contribute to their tolerance of the United States and understanding that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are not the forces that can lead to the progress and development of Afghanistan. American experts who develop educational programs argue that the US influence on Afghan society is possible if its members read and write. However, 60% of men and 90% of women remain illiterate in this country.
According to the United States, it is illiteracy that is the life-giving moisture for spreading the ideology of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Therefore, the US government has focused on developing the education system, more specifically, building schools and working with local authorities to ensure that they do not prevent school-age children from attending schools in Afghanistan.
In 2006, Washington approved a plan for the development of the Afghan education system, which was completed in 2010. Over the years, Americans have managed to create a corps of teachers for secondary schools. 54 thousand teachers were trained in 11 provinces of Afghanistan, 680 schools were built or converted, 2 new faculties of education were created in universities and three teacher training colleges.
Over the past four years, the United States has upgraded 18 existing universities. About 100 Afghan teachers were sent to the United States to complete their master's degrees. Today, the United States is implementing a system of master's programs in Afghan universities. By 2014, the Government intends to fully modernize and reform all universities and higher education institutions in Afghanistan. The Center for Interaction between the United States and Universities in Afghanistan is an American university in Afghanistan, which was established in 2002. The University trains students in the fields of humanities, public policy, management and information technology. Undoubtedly, the university reflects the American higher education system, and most of the teachers come from the United States.
As a result, we managed to increase the number of students in schools and universities. In 2001, 900,000 people were enrolled, and now 5.7 million are enrolled in schools and universities, including girls and women.18
However, the United States has failed to make progress in improving its training programs. School administrators and teachers do not seek to introduce pro-Western training programs. From 2002 to 2010, the United States printed 75.6 million books in Dari and Pashto, but failed to fully implement the project to equip schools with textbooks. It is not always possible for the US government to reach an agreement with the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan on the introduction of a Western-style curriculum, which is supposed to-
According to the Afghan authorities, the school curriculum proposed by Washington is not suitable due to the lack of subjects related to Islam and home economics. In addition, pressure from the Taliban and their threatening letters to local residents hinder the development of education in Afghanistan. Supporters of the Taliban movement carry out constant terrorist attacks against US educational projects. Arson of buildings has become the most common method of resistance of the local population in the problem provinces of Afghanistan.19
In addition to reforming the education system at home, the United States actively involves Afghans in exchange programs. They involve various professional groups: politicians, officials, leaders of various organizations created by the US government, and so on. During the stay of coalition troops in the country, there has been a significant annual increase in the number of citizens participating in exchange programs of the US government. The number of participants in US exchange programs has increased due to projects aimed at developing the education system in Afghanistan. Prospective teachers accounted for the largest share of all program participants from Afghanistan 20.
Reforming the Afghan education system and exchange programs is an investment in the country's future elite, which will pursue a more friendly policy towards the United States. However, even today there are politicians and officials in Afghanistan who interact with the United States. The current elite is also the target audience of US public diplomacy. In this direction, the United States operates in two directions.
The first is to invite government representatives to one of the well-known exchange programs (International Visitor Leadership Program), which involves a sightseeing tour of the United States in order to study political institutions. In 1987, Afghan President Hamid Karzai participated in this program (at that time he was living in Pakistan, helping the Mujahideen raise money for the war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan).
The second direction is the training of middle-level representatives of the state apparatus, i.e. the training of officials. Approximately 500 people annually complete internships in such programs 21.
The United States is trying to expand its cultural presence in Afghanistan by creating centers for American literature, which in Afghanistan are called the Lincoln Centers. Now there are nine of them, and the main purpose of the centers is to mobilize local activists around the United States, show films, and hold discussions on such topics as human rights, ethnic diversity, a free press, Islam, and America. Teaching Afghan youth English in these centers is another task of such centers.
The training program involves high school students and a completely new category of young people who have never participated in US government programs before-representatives of the poorest segments of Afghan youth. This category of citizens represents the main target audience for the Taliban, and therefore the US government is doing everything possible to turn young people in its favor.22
Finally, among all training programs, a special place is occupied by those that are aimed at stimulating women's political participation in society. 23 The US Strategy for stabilizing the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan stipulates the role of the female population. Women's emancipation helps implement political reforms in these two countries. By creating conditions for their independence from men and raising their status in the society of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Washington hopes to modernize the foundations of a Muslim state. U.S. government projects such as promoting literacy among women and encouraging them to pursue higher education are contributing to this goal. For example, the University of Kabul in the United States built a separate dormitory for women, which contributed to the influx of female students from different provinces. Today, 1,110 female students study there 24.
Nevertheless, for every successful project, there are a huge number of failures, which indicate the tough resistance of the Afghan society. The United States succeeded in promoting three Afghan women as ministers in the Afghan Government from 2001 to 2005. However, ten women holding various positions in provincial structures were killed in 2008. As a result, the U.S. government has suspended its efforts to promote women to government and political positions. During the local and federal election campaigns, the Taliban remind the fairer sex of
the consequences of their participation in these campaigns. In troubled provinces like Kandahar, schoolgirls are targeted by the Taliban, who throw acid on their faces. Fear does not allow women to cooperate with the coalition forces, to receive the offered education, which, in turn, calls into question the success of the implementation of US projects.
In addition, the existence of Sharia law applicable to women, which the Americans failed to change in the Afghan parliament, hinders the emancipation of women. The law passed in 2009 allows early marriage, polygamy, unequal inheritance rights, etc. The U.S. government is trying to convince President Karzai that this legislation is contrary to the Afghan constitutional norm, which requires the Government to act and pass laws in accordance with international standards.
The only thing that the US government managed to achieve was the adoption of a decree on the elimination of violence against women, which for the first time was qualified as a crime 25.
Despite the setbacks, the U.S. government continues to invest millions of dollars in projects that raise the level of education and basic literacy of Afghan women, hoping to eventually instill them with an active lifestyle.26
(The ending follows)
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