Two senior Western diplomats were given 48 hours to leave Afghanistan because they attempted negotiating with anti-government leaders in Helmand province. Michael Semple, head of the EU mission in Afghanistan and Mervin Patterson, a high level UN official were accused of threatening Afghanistan’s national security because they were “involved in some activities that were not their jobs.” The two men allegedly offered aid and development incentives to tribal elders in the Taliban heartlands. Their goal was working with tribal leaders and even members of the Taliban to seek a solution that would end violence and lead to improved cooperation between the government and its opponents. The diplomats met with government officials and tribal commanders in a Taliban dominated area. At least one important leader in Musa Qala agreed to cease supporting the Taliban.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been urging a re-evaluation of Afghan policy which would entail attempting to bring some members of the Taliban into the government. Other British officials have even urged drastic steps like purchasing the entire poppy crop in order to wean farmers away from the Taliban. The bottom line is present strategy simply isn’t working six years after the war in Afghanistan began.