After giving up on winning victory in Afghanistan by military means, the international community is resorting to the centuries-old method of buying its way out.
Britain and the US are backing a new strategy to buy off “soft” supporters of the Taliban in a radical attempt to end nine years of war in Afghanistan. The plan, to be approved at a 60-nation conference in London today, comes amid unexpected signs of growing political support for the equally high-risk idea of talks leading to a political settlement with the Taliban leadership.
In a telling move, on Tuesday night the UN Security Council bowed to pressure from the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, to lift sanctions imposed on former officials who served in the Taliban government driven from power by the US-led invasion of 2001.
The multimillion-pound “peace and reintegration” fund would seek to lure low ranking Taliban fighters, who join out of poverty rather than ideology, by giving them jobs, schooling or land for farming. An effective amnesty for these men, now believed to make up 75 per cent of the insurgency’s ranks, means that even those who took part in attacks involving the deaths of British or US soldiers would be rehabilitated.
( Military dhimmi)General Stanley McChrystal, the US Nato commander, said earlier this week that he could envisage some former Taliban members being brought into the Kabul government.
Offering the Taliban leadership an olive branch with a view to a negotiated peace settlement is the “second prong” of a strategy now favoured by the Karzai government. But it is politically more sensitive for the West than reaching out to low-ranking fighters, because of what any “grand bargain” might entail. In 2007 two Western diplomats were expelled from Afghanistan for engaging in contacts with the extremists. READ MORE: UK INDEPENDENT
Sabah Al-Mukhtar – President of the Arab Lawyers Association in London – says the plan to pay off the Taliban is doomed to fail.