Foreign Policy Blogs

At Least 900 Taliban Defect to Government: Reintegration Policy a Qualified Success

On the heels of an Afghan Islamic Press piece that 40 Taliban soldiers have defected to the Kabul government, the Associated Press reports that at least 900 Taliban footsoldiers and leaders have defected from the Taliban. Lured, by a new integration program that promises jobs and educational training, insurgents have laid down their weapons to join the effort against their own compatriots-the Taliban.

Deb Riechman, writing for the AP reports:

The months-old reintegration program, which attracts fighters with promises of jobs, literacy and vocational training plus development aid for their villages, is slowly gaining acceptance but faces serious challenges, said Maj. Gen. Phil Jones, who tracks the reintegration effort at NATO headquarters in Kabul.”

How does reintegration of this sort work?  The AP piece points out the mechanics of this new policy:

The program is funded by a trust fund flush with $130 million from Japan, Germany, Estonia, Denmark and Britain. The United States has committed an additional $50 million.”

“To join, insurgents must renounce violence, respect the Afghan constitution and sever ties with al-Qaida or other terrorist networks. Small financial incentives are offered to those who enroll to help them with food and shelter, but aid is being channeled into projects and programs that benefit the former insurgents’ communities.”

This new program is part and parcel of General David Petraeus counterinsurgency move to disarm and dislocate–indeed, relocate?- the Taliban, by playing at their own game: pay off foot soldiers to join in the fray in war and peace.  The road to a sustained and separate peace is long.  Consider that many defectors have had their homes burned to the ground by their former comrades in the anti-government insurgency.

Now this news was entirely expected.  Nevertheless, it is still worth reporting. Good news is always worth reporting.  Perhaps the best piece of news is the bit that’s gone unnoticed: the new reintegration policy looks likely to deliver more foot soldiers, away from the Taliban, to Kabul before the policy falls apart from the strain of the rampant corruption in Afghanistan.  It’s certainly funded well enough to run on for at least a year or two.



Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

Great Decisions Discussion group