US: Afghanistan Flubs Opportunity to Stifle Taliban

Thursday, 19 May 2011 04:01 PM

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U.S. and Afghan officials contend that Afghanistan’s government is letting a golden opportunity slip through its fingers after the death of Osama bin Laden. The government has been slow to recruit Taliban defectors demoralized about bin Laden’s death and recently won military gains, The Washington Post reported.

The Afghan government has been unable to provide safe houses, job training, and other resources to Taliban troops at a time when interest in switching sides is at an all-time high. The situation is so dire that the governor of Kandahar province has asked insurgent leaders to delay their surrender, the Post reported.

The problems are not just with the Afghanistan government. The United States has been unable to step in and help because of congressional restrictions placed on the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to the Post.

One former U.S. official told the Post that “bin Laden’s death — and the killing of scores of Taliban commanders over the past year — has opened a window for us but it’s emblematic of how unprepared we are for the endgame.”

Last summer, President Hamid Karzai approved a plan to win over low-level Taliban fighters that included amnesty to insurgents who had not been involved in war crimes or other atrocities. The defectors were to be placed in safe houses for 90 days and receive a monthly stipend ranging from $100 to $500, classes on job skills and basic literacy, and religious lessons to move them away from the Taliban’s radical Islamist agenda, the Post reported.

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