The British have decided to steal a page from the successful “Awakening Councils” program in Iraq which used paying money and arming Sunni groups in order to wean away from al-Qaeda a large segment of the Iraqi Sunni population. Britain plans to pay tribal elders in Helmand province monthly cash “bribes” as part of a controversial “Afghan Awakening” scheme to persuade tribes to turn against the Taliban. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband met with President Karzai to discuss the idea and then flew to Helmand province in order to get officers on the scene to participate in the proposed plan. There are reports several tribes in the northwest region of Pakistan are being paid to fight against al-Qaeda.
There are several aspects to the program such as will it result in some tribal leaders becoming wealthy or will the money be shared with large segments of the population in order to fund a mass movement against the Taliban? In Afghanistan men of fighting age identify with local elder village leaders and if this group can be won over, it will help to fight militants. An important aspect of the program is extending the power of the Afghan government in areas where their influence is meager.