Afghanistan - a segmented society
Afghanistan is, from an anthropological perspective, a segmented society. The primary patterns of political loyalty are to families, clans and ethnic groups.
Fundamentalist secularists tend to see religion as a cause of problems. It is in fact human nature that is a cause of problems religion tends to temper the worst aspects of human nature.
It is important to remember that religion tends to follow a segmented identity. When the UK was primarily segmented a thousand years ago Christianity followed the conversion of clan chieftans.
The division between Sunni and Shi'a Islam started out as a political division and became from that an ideological division.
To understand what is happening in societies it helps to deemphasise religion and look at the tribal loyalties.
The word Afghanistan is pronounced as if all the first three consonants are swallowed up and elided together. The languages spoken are those which tend to ignore the constancy of vowels and focus on the consonants. Hence words such as Pashtun can be written "Pathan" and pronounced as P'tan or Pushtoon.
The Pashtun are just under half of the population with Tajik about a quarter and other groups such as Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen and Baloch as well as other smaller groups. Different areas tend to be dominated by different ethnic groups.
What the UK is currently doing is taking on the Pashtun in Helmand. The problem is that you cannot win "hearts and minds" by shooting people. The UK armed forces are, therefore, have been given an impossible job. The more people they shoot the more likely people are to join with the opposition known as the Taliban.
This is not a complex ideological issue it is the simple traditional human one of my enemy's enemy is my friend.