Tag Archives: tribal elders

US General Explains Surge Plan To Tribal Chiefs

During the past few years the American public has been deluged with information concerning the “surge” which will end terrorism in Iraq and now the “surge” which will end terrorism in Afghanistan. Even as General David McKiernan was meeting with tribal elders in Helmand and Kandahar, news came from Iraq of the death of five more American soldiers who were killed by insurgents. McKiernan’s goal was to connect with tribal elders in order to get their cooperation for the surge in Afghanistan. “I’m trying to connect to the local population in a bottom-up way and try to explain what the new US strategy means and why they’re going to see an increased force presence where they live.” He emphasized until save havens for insurgents are eliminated the attacks will go on.

The good news is that McKiernan told the audience, “I’m reading a very good book now about this part of the world. It’s written in English, but it’s all about you–it’s the Quran.”I guess the real surge he has been discussing is the surge in having US military leaders read the Quran. That should end terrorism in the region. Now, if we could just get insurgents to read the Quran all problems would cease.

“Afghan Awakening” With Dollars!

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.

Is Taliban Making Mistakes In Pakistan?

A few weeks ago, a prominent Taliban leader in Pakistan called for a cease fire and offered to negotiate with the Pakistan government concerning ways to reduce violence in northwest regions of the nation. Over the weekend, an 18 year-old boy blew himself up at a jirga meeting where tribal elder were discussing ways to handle Taliban militants. At least 40 people were killed and 50 wounded by the blast. Several prominent tribal elders were among those killed. The blast occurred just as a group of tribal elders were discussing plans to raise an army in order to combat the Taliban.

The incident indicates confusion in Taliban ranks, are they interested in peace or are they still committed to war? There is no question this bombing will arouse anger among tribal leaders and ensure an army is raised to fight the Taliban. In the past, the Taliban has alternated between clever military tactics and a disastrous approach to public relations. The incident will undoubtedly increase acceptance among tribal leaders of the proposed US dispatch of 100 trainers to work with the Pakistan military on coounter-intelligence tactics. It may also result in more US troops being allowed to function in the northwest region.