England to Taliban: Let’s just kiss and say good-byeSeptember 4, 2012
The U.K. will pay a bribe to the Taliban to allow a safe exit of British troops from Afghanistan according to a report from the Pakistan Observer.
No source is named in the article, but there is a precedent for such an arrangement: Afghan officials claimed in 2009 that Italy struck a deal with the Taliban to refrain from attacking Italian forces in Afghanistan.
In the uproar over the Italian scandal, it was reported that this behavior was fairly common among NATO forces: “One Western military source told of payments made by Canadian soldiers stationed in the violent southern province of Kandahar, while another officer spoke of similar practices by the German army in northern Kunduz… ‘I think more than 50 percent of NATO forces deployed in rural Afghanistan have such deals or at least have struck such deals’ to ensure peace,” a senior Afghan official said.
There has also been a steady stream of news and reports of foreign aid misappropriation and development aid subcontracting scandals that have helped line the pockets of the Taliban.
We don’t want to believe this Observer story, but it’s tough not to wonder…
UK-Taliban deal Britain to pay security money to Afghan Taliban for safe exit
Saturday, August 18, 2012 – Islamabad—A deal has been struck between Britain and Afghan Taliban under which London will pay security money to Afghan Taliban, area war lords, local elders and even Afghan officials for safe withdrawal of their men and heavy equipment in 2013 and early 2014.
The reports emanating from Kabul suggest the agreement was reached in mid July this year to speedy withdrawal of heavy military hardware in fourteen month period. The recent visits of British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and other senior officials to Kabul can be seen in this context as UK wants quick withdrawal of their troops. The French Forces are also expected to complete their withdrawal process earlier than expected.
The reports further said other NATO forces are also expected to make similar arrangements with Afghan Taliban and other stakeholders to avoid loss of life and sophisticated technology, if they are attacked by Taliban on withdrawing convoys.
The deal facilitated by Afghan elders included provision of funds by the British to develop Taliban controlled areas.
Reports also said British troops in Helmund province have already started collecting data about their war machines, ammunition and men to make a safe exit.
The British are weighing their options to use Pakistani or Central Asian routes to withdraw their heavy equipment. It was also decided to airlift the most sophisticated weapons back to London for fear of loss or turning into hands of Taliban or other groups.
Several NATO countries are considering handing over their heavy equipment including tanks and armoured carriers and not the advanced equipment to newly set up Afghan army.
Washington is in contact with Taliban to determine their role in future created in Kabul after departure of US-led NATO forces in 2014.
No dollar amounts have ever been reported in the Italian case, or this new allegation involving the British. But keep in mind as a baseline that ransoms have reportedly been paid by European governments to terrorist organizations in the $5 million to $10 million range per hostage. How much more would the Taliban expect to guarantee safe passage out of their territory for all British troops? Fifty million? A hundred million?