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About That Karzai Reintegration/Reconciliation Structure

The State Department released a revised civilian strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan today. And it’s really more of a summary of what’s been going on as much as it is a document about where strategy goes from here. Seriously, if you read this piece and this piece and this post you’re pretty much caught up: agricultural support; jobs programs; anti-corruption; regional governance; Pakistan water projects; counterinsurgency support. On a spin level, there’s a great deal of emphasis to say — truthfully! — that this isn’t nation building, a term that implies too long and too corpulent a mission. (“Far from an exercise in ‘nation-building,’ the programs detailed here aim to achieve realistic progress in critical areas…)

But the document does have a level of detail about something British Foreign Secretary David Miliband hinted at during a Senate panel this afternoon — a new Afghan initiative for outreach to non-al-Qaeda-aligned Taliban forces.

President Karzai intends to appoint a committee of Afghanistan’s National Security Council to develop an Afghan government reintegration program. It will reach out to communities, individuals and groups, coordinate protection, amnesty, and support (such as employment) to those who reintegrate and disarm, and support monitoring and de-radicalization mechanisms.

This committee, with support from our Embassy team, will provide the political lead for ISAF’s military efforts. A joint ISAF-Embassy cell will establish principles and mechanisms for military commanders and civilians in the field to follow for approaches to and by insurgents.

We expect the Afghan government’s reintegration program will be shaped by these principles:

The Afghan government will take a strong political lead on the process, with ISAF and

commanders in the field in a supporting role.

Groups as well as individuals will be identified for reintegration.

Adequate resources will be provided for the livelihood of former combatants and their families; the availability of funds for this purpose is essential.

Commanders contemplating reintegration will receive credible security guarantees so that they need not fear that while they negotiate with one entity (e.g. the Afghan government) they will be detained or killed by another (e.g. counter-terrorist operatives).

A cynic would wonder if this level of detail in a State Department document indicates this isn’t really Karzai’s idea.

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