Mishkat Al Moumin | September 2nd, 2010 | True Stories About Security | 125 Comments »
Environmental scholars agree that environmental scarcity, i.e. the decline in the availability of the environmental resources, brings ethnic divisions to a community. However, in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces, bordering Pakistan on the east, environmental scarcity is bringing communities together to fight the U.S. soldiers.
A security situation in Kunar and Nuristan (in which insurgency groups reign) is active, and timber smuggling is fueling this growth. Former Mujahedeen and terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba , the Taliban , and the Korengal insurgency  operate in Nuristan and Kunar. These insurgency groups fund their operations by smuggling timber to the neighboring country of Pakistan.
The Korengal insurgency does not consist of Pashtuns, the dominated ethnic and linguistic populace of Afghanistan. The Korengals are of a different ethnicity and speak their own language. In fact, the Korengals are the business competitors of the Pashtuns. However, the scarcity of timber brings the communities together in order to smuggle timber outside of Afghanistan. The Taliban in Pakistan smuggles the timber through the Pakistani borders in exchange for having these different insurgency groups fight the U.S. soldiers in a proxy war . Thus, the timber is fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan where the Taliban is utilizing the profits to buy weapons and wage a proxy war against the U.S. soldiers.
Many U.S. soldiers have lost their lives because of this proxy war, or because they got in between the timber and the smugglers.
A good question to ask is where does the timber go after being smuggled into Pakistan? The timber is sold in the global timber markets, and it will eventually find its way to the U.S. market. Is the U.S. buying timber that has the blood if its own soldiers on it? I believe it is.
I think the case study of timber in Afghanistan challenges the traditional theory of environmental scarcity in which division is created between ethnic groups. In this case study, scarcity brought different ethnic insurgency groups together to smuggle timber and fight a proxy war.
Moreover, the case study shows that it is difficult to stabilize Kunar and Nuristan without proper management of the timber. Currently timber is managed by an executive decree that prohibits all timber cutting. While the central government issued the decree in hopes of preserving timber and combating timber smuggling, the decree resulted in an adverse impact on timber management. By banning all timber cutting, the price of timber increased, providing a strong incentive for the powerful groups within the community to smuggle it.
Thus, security is linked to the proper management of timber, not to the mere use of force.
Moreover, environmental security is not only about the future threats resulting from climate change; it is about the present too. Ill-designed environmental policies and poor management can pose security threats in the present time and in the future. However, the present threats are more urgent than the future ones.
If you are interested in more detailed recommendations, please review my article entitled "Transition to Peace: Examining Divergent Approaches to Enacting Post-Conflict Environmental Laws in Afghanistan and El Salvador," in the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Vol. 22-4, 2010.
You can help too. You can retweet: stop the blood timber.
 Founded in 1990 in Kunar province, a terrorist organization that is “a signatory to Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad against the US and Israel.” See Daan Van Der Schriek, ibid. Also see South Asia Terrorism Patrol, Terrorist Groups, Lashar-e- Toiba. http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/jandk/terrorist_outfits/lashkar_e_toiba.htm#.
 Students of the Islamic movement a radical Sunni group who governed Afghanistan from 1996 until they were removed by the U.S troops and NATO in 2001. See Gilles Dorronsoro, Who are the Taliban, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2009. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=24029.
 The inhabitants of the Korengal Valley in Kunar are not Pashtuns as the rest of the population of Kunar they speak their own language and share some ethnic ties with the Nuristanies. The Korengals are the business competitors of the majority of Pushtun in the timber trade. “After the U.S. invasion in 2001, the Pech Valley timber barons sided with the Americans and convinced them to bomb the house of Hajji Matin, their biggest rival from Korengal. After this affront, Matin was radicalized and joined with Abu Ikhlas, the Egyptian al Qaeda operative who had settled in Kunar.” See Micheal Moore and James Fussell, P.21. Also, see Sebastian Junger, “Into the Valley of Death,” Vanity Fair, January 2008, http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/01/afghanistan_slideshow200801#slide=1.
Also see, Elizabeth Rubin, “Battle Company is Out There,” The New York Times Magazine, February 24, 2008,http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/magazine/24afghanistan-t.html.
 Glenn Hurowitz, "Illegal Logging Funding Taliban Attacks on U.S. Troops," Grist, April 2010; can be found on the following link:http://www.grist.org/article/illegal-logging-funding-taliban-attacks-on-u.s.-troops/.