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Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
Zero Dark Thirty Review-Analysis; Eleven Instances of Disinformation
Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?
 
 
 
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times


Afghanistan Cross Road CNN


The last frontier


Bruce Richardson
 

Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
THE ANATOMY OF US’S DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
VOICES OF EMPIRE: FROM CIA’s CULTURAL GREAT GAME TO GLOBAL GREAT GAME TODAY
WHITE PAPER FOR THE PERMANENT PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
CHINA AMO DARYA OIL DEAL
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 


Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes  
Source: The Christian Science Monitor By: Neil Shea Contributor  

In Afghanistan, the winter lull in fighting allows some US units to try to persuade fighters to leave the Taliban.

Qatar Kala, Afghanistan — In a small village on the edge of the war, where women cover themselves in shawls blue as the sky and where disks of cow dung are flattened to dry against the walls of the houses, Lt. Tom Goodman is being asked to leave.

He has said his piece, made his pitch, and the villagers are wary. This is a place the Taliban visit, too.

"Thank you, we understand," a bearded elder says. "What you say makes sense. Now, it is better if you go, for your safety."

They always say that, Goodman thinks, but he also remembers that he has been ambushed many times when approaching or departing the village of Qatar Kala in Konar Province, a dozen or so miles from the Pakistani border. So the elder's words may simply express a desire to be rid of the soldiers. Or they may carry a warning.

Goodman's 3rd Platoon of the 2-12 Infantry (3rd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2-12 Infantry, 4th Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division) had traveled to Qatar Kala pushing the latest message US forces and their allies have tried in a faltering war: reconciliation with the so-called AAF, or anti-Afghan forces, a catchall phrase that includes the Taliban and other groups fighting against the government and coalition forces in the narrow valleys and along the ridges of Afghanistan's most violent provinces.

When Gen. Stanley McChrystal took charge of the war in 2009, he began changing the way NATO forces fought it. Instead of "bringing the fight to the enemy wherever he was," as officers characterized the previous approach, McChrystal promoted a more nuanced counterinsurgency strategy. One aspect of his approach centered on protecting the population. Another made room for reconciliation – allowing some AAF fighters to denounce violence and pledge support to the Afghan government.

It is a calculated gamble, aimed at drawing fighters who are not hardened members of the Taliban or Al Qaeda back into the fold of the nation.

Unlike in hot spots in the south, however, officers here say they don't expect to see many of the 30,000 additional troops President Obama pledged late last year to send to Afghanistan. And while the Afghan government is expected to take the lead in reconciliation efforts, its weakness means that in places like the Pesh Valley, home to Qatar Kala and dozens of other villages where AAF fighters have pushed back hard against US forces, much of the new plan will likely fall to units already in place, wedged into small bases against the flanks of the mountains. It will fall to platoons like Goodman's.

On a recent Thursday, Goodman led his men up into the hills of the Watapoor Valley, an offshoot of the Pesh. He was joined by a unit of Afghan National Army troops, who were learning the valley and its people for themselves. A column of armed men wound up into the hills, hiking along ancient irrigation channels and terrace walls lining green fields. Children, still and silent, watched the soldiers pass.

In the center of Qatar Kala, Goodman, a tall, thin young man from Ellicott City, Md., sat beneath a bare tree on a stone polished smooth with use. Four or five men appearing twice his age or more sat before him draped in shawls, their faces deeply lined, their heads covered in wool caps. Through an interpreter Goodman told the elders he wanted peace. He wanted the shooting to stop.

"We really want these fighters to reconcile with us," he said. "Please spread the word, get these guys to come down out of the mountains."

Above the valley, snow shone on the high peaks and clear, cool air washed down through passes commonly used to transport weapons, drugs, fighters. Winter was creeping in. Cold and darkness have traditionally slowed wars in Afghanistan, lent a seasonal pause to fighting as fighters withdraw into Pakistan to rest and resupply. US officers use the season to enlarge their "inkblot," their area of influence.

"This is the best time of year for us," another 2-12 officer had said a few days before Goodman's march. "Because it's less kinetic. Which means we can get out there, see the people. Work our magic."

But so far the reconciliation program hasn't seen much success, at least here in the Pesh Valley. Few fighters have shown interest. The program is so new it doesn't have a name. And the details – such as who can reconcile and what they'll get in return if they do – are even now being carved out.

Still, officers point to a recent shura, or council, that local leaders convened to discuss reconciliation. It attracted elders from some of the most violent areas in the Pesh Valley. This, the officers say, is promising. In villages like Qatar Kala, its loyalty sought by NATO allies and the Taliban, the winter lull could provide the best chance for reconciliation, a kind of winter crop sown during quiet months.

For Goodman, though, the promise of winter weakened beside memories of the many battles he'd fought recently near Qatar Kala, of attackers hiding among the rocks.

His unit had been patrolling and fighting in Watapoor Valley for some six months, emerging most days from a combat outpost set at the mouth of the valley and called Honaker Miracle, a combination of the names of two soldiers killed in combat. The patrols were long, ambushes routine, AAF fighters sniping at them from the mountainsides.

But Goodman's platoon had fought its way out each time, and as combat faded with winter's arrival, they were able to visit settlements throughout the Watapoor more to talk – and to spread the word about reconciliation. Elsewhere in the Pesh Valley, other soldiers were doing the same.

Above the village, two dark-green attack helicopters circled in wide, thumping arcs, reassuring the soldiers of 3rd Platoon but offering residents of Qatar Kala, who watched impassively from rooftops and mud-slick alleys, only the threat of violence.

The elders heard Goodman out. They said they would consider what he had said. Then they asked him to leave. After a while, he and his men did. Intelligence reports, along with experience, warned of a possible ambush on the return hike. Goodman chose an alternate route out of the valley.

"Now's when we usually get hit," he said. His men scanned the mountainsides with their rifle scopes, waiting. Intelligence reports warned them to expect an attack.

But no hit came. The platoon walked the edges of different fields; traveled along channels of boulders by the river; passing houses with stone walls a foot thick and children with fierce, beautiful faces.

Back at base, 3rd Platoon dropped their sweat-stained helmets and armor and gathered outside their headquarters. Goodman congratulated them.

"It's huge that we didn't get shot at today," he said. "It means we're making progress. It means what we've been doing here for the last six months is paying off."

Or, it could merely be winter. No one can say just yet.


Afghan tribe takes first step in anti-Taliban pact
Source: Associated Press By: Heidi Vogt  

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HUGHIE, Afghanistan --The man accused of running drugs and abetting the Taliban sat on a bench in a room full of Afghan elders, glancing warily at the American diplomat and the Afghan police commander on either side of him.

The Americans had been planning to arrest 28-year-old Qari Rahmat, but held off in the hope that the leaders of his Shinwari tribe would persuade him to mend his ways.

The turnaround came this week, around a table laden with fruit and soft drinks, when Rahmat stood up and pledged fealty to the law and the Afghan constitution. He also denied having collaborated with the Taliban, but everyone seemed content to ignore the past so long as he was sincere about the future.

The scene that unfolded Tuesday, in front of U.S. military commanders and a dozen bearded, shawl-draped elders, was the first evidence that the Shinwari tribe is making good on a pact signed by 170 elders last month to banish the Taliban from their corner of eastern Afghanistan.

The U.S. pledged more than $1 million to the tribe for development after the signing of the January agreement.

Some may see it as a glimmer of hope that the Iraq experience of allying with tribes to fight insurgents can be replicated in Afghanistan. But Rahmat's case is just the first since the signing of the pact, and even the Shinwari's pledge will be hard to copy elsewhere in Afghanistan. Many argue that the two countries are too different for analogies to be drawn.

"The way people in rural Afghanistan organize themselves is so different from rural Iraqi culture that calling them both 'tribes' is deceptive," says a September U.S. Army report. "'Tribes' in Afghanistan do not act as unified groups, as they have recently in Iraq."

It's also a controversial strategy, because President Hamid Karzai complains that too much foreign aid is bypassing his government and undermining its authority.

But at least with the 600,000 Shinwaris in this small patch of Afghanistan, the approach appears to be working.

The tribal elders promised Rahmat that he wouldn't be arrested and will enter him in a government program to reconcile repentant Taliban -- a key move that shows their willingness to work with the government.

If he breaks the rules, he'll be fined up to $20,000 and "We'll burn his house down," said Usman, a Shinwari elder who like many Afghans goes by one name.

Rahmat, a thin, heavily bearded man, had been on the military's most-wanted lists for months, said Lt. Col. Randall Simmons, who commands the roughly 500 U.S. troops in the area.

He's a "Taliban facilitator and probably the top narco-trafficker in the southeast," Simmons said. But the military held off on arresting him because it decided that building trust with the tribe was more important.

"We could go out and kill these guys all day long, like we have been, but as soon as you whack one, another one takes his place," Simmons said.

The aid money was not pledged with any conditions, he added, but they hoped it would embolden the tribe to take actions like delivering Rahmat. Simmons hopes that next they'll band together to demand the governor fire district officials suspected of stealing government funds meant to go to the community.

The Shinwari elders will have to agree how to allocate the funds: some projects dicussed include health clinics and schools. They've already been working on U.S.-funded jobs programs involving bridge-building and canal-cleaning, but those involve far smaller sums.

The main reason the Americans decided to bypass local officials is, in Usman's words, because "probably 95 percent of them are corrupt."

Simmons said he soon realized that none of the Shinwari elders trusted the government representatives, and the only one at the meeting was border police commander Col. Niazi, who has become a trusted intermediary.

He said he is being harassed by district officials who claim he is trying to do their jobs, and that he recently was told to transfer to another province but got the order reversed.

Government officials could not be reached for immediate comment on the Shinwari situation, but Karzai has criticized military reconstruction teams in the provinces for giving money directly to governors or districts.

The Shinwaris are unusual in that their tribe has remained unified throughout decades of war. And since they dominate the six districts of Nangarhar province where they live, there is little ethnic conflict for the Taliban to exploit.

This is one of the more peaceful parts of Nangarhar province. The Taliban pass through and appoint shadow representatives, but are not seen as controlling the area, said Lt. Joe Dahl, an intelligence officer.

In December, the Nangarhar governor flew four Shinwari elders to Kandahar to share their experience and help the southern tribes make similar pacts, Usman said.

But the elder doubted it would work in Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, where the militants have assassinated scores of government-friendly tribal leaders.

"The situation in Kandahar is very bad," Usman said. "Nobody can go out of their houses. No one can even go see the police commander or the district chief."

 

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