NATO and Afghan government officials are working to use tribal elders as a way of cutting growing influence of Taliban insurgents as a part of an Iraq-style strategy.
Using with leaders in rural areas of Afghanistan is part of a new NATO and U.S. strategy in Afghanistan against the strengthening Taliban insurgency.
Interdependent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) is an Afghan government department which leads community outreach to elders in rural areas of Afghanistan where their word is respected and often determines local law.
Using shuras -- meetings of tribal leaders -- the IDLG wants power-brokers in remote areas to cherry-pick civilians for jobs in the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.
"This shura will sign a memorandum of understanding on how the government should work and how the community should help the government not to shelter insurgents in their houses, not to feed them, not to house them, not to help them," Barna Karimi, deputy minister for policy at IDLG said.
The commander of NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, U.S. General David McKiernan recommended the plan in Washington last month.
"What they are talking about is empowering local militias and what they are focused on is money, development, training and governance," said a Brussels-based NATO diplomat.
The plan is one plank of the "clear, hold and build" strategy that General David Petraeus employed with success in Iraq and now as overall commander of Afghanistan is likely to recommend to President-elect Barack Obama in a forthcoming strategic review.
McKiernan spoke of providing the local shuras with "the wherewithal, the authority and some resources" in return of protection, but said the plan was different to the so-called the Awakening Councils, that turned their guns on al Qaeda in Iraq.
The plan is to be implemented first of all on a trial basis, focusing on areas along the key highway from the capital Kabul to Kandahar, the main city in the south, NATO officials said.
But McKiernan, like other officials, has avoided talk of arming militias.
The extent to which the local shuras would be allowed to arm their communities is currently being debated by the Afghan government and the NATO-led force.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said this week that arming militias would be a "disaster".
"Getting weapons in Afghanistan is not a problem, everybody is armed," the Brussels-based NATO diplomat said.
"I've not heard about anyone talking about giving them weapons and a lot of people talking about not giving them weapons," the diplomat said.
Last Mod: 22 Aralık 2008, 15:28