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May 6, 2009

In the midst of battles with insurgents in a mountain valley north of Kabul, a progovernment tribal leader met with the insurgents and made them an appealing offer:  Stop fighting, and we will give you amnesty and a job. The men cautiously accepted.  They joined a program aimed at reconciling rank-and-file insurgents with the government, an initiative that figures to be a central component in the Obama administration’s strategy to stabilize this country. Local tribal elders credit this reconciliation process, together with the French-led military offensive, for a stark turnaround in the security situation here.  The Afghan government, through an agency called the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, has mediated with hundreds of insurgents. Since its founding in 2005, the commission has even enticed some insurgent commanders to switch sides. In addition, a parallel effort is under way with the US-funded Afghan Social Outreach Program, an agency associated with the office of the president.

Question to the Blogosphere: Many times in development and conflict resolution efforts, programs can be redundant therefore confusing to the people who are supposed to be benefiting from them.  Do you think that two groups who perform the same services in giving insurgents jobs and amnesty will create chaos?  To what extent do these programs recognize the interests of the insurgents–which may be more of a need for a job and a future than a need for strict Sharia law in Afghanistan?

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