January 22nd, 2008 03:37 EST
Report says give cash to win over Afghan moderates
The international coalition in Afghanistan should seek to "divide and rule" insurgents there by enticing moderates away from the hardcore Taliban with offers of cash and other incentives, a report urged on Monday.
The European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR) noted that U.S. officials remained sceptical of such overtures but, citing precedents in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, argued that stability was impossible unless ex-insurgents joined democratic politics.
"Enticements could include money, paid in instalments to ensure an ongoing commitment to the government," said ECFR analyst Daniel Korski, a former aide to Paddy Ashdown -- the British official tipped to become the U.N. special Afghan envoy.
"The coalition could then operate a system of 'divide and rule', whereby intransigent insurgents would see their erstwhile comrades rewarded with a package of financial and other incentives," Korski said in the report.
Such rewards could include "benefit packages" comprising health clinics and schools in the local fief of a cooperative leader, he said, proposing that the European Union allocate at least 50 million euros (37.2 million pounds) for such a pilot scheme.
The ECFR was launched late last year to study EU foreign policy and is co-chaired by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.
The report comes as Western officials are reviewing the international strategy in Afghanistan, which has suffered from a lack of coordination between key agencies and differences within NATO's 42,000-strong force on how to tackle the insurgency.
Officials including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and NATO's top commander of operations, U.S. General John Craddock, have backed reconciliation efforts in a bid to end violence that claimed 5,000 lives last year alone.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also said Taliban leaders were contacting him to try to find ways of making peace.
The ECFR report highlighted stark differences in the presence of European nations within NATO's peace force, with Britain providing over 7,000 troops, Germany over 3,000 while Austria, Ireland and Luxembourg only muster a handful each.
In addition to the 3,500 extra Marines pledged by Washington last week, the ECFR estimated a further 2,000-2,500 NATO troops were probably needed in the violent south of the country.
(Reporting by Mark John; Editing by Charles Dick)