Afghans Who Agreed to Support Kabul Are Turning Back to Insurgency

The failure of a welfare program to bribe insurgents to lay down their arms illustrates how hearts and minds continue to be lost

Many Afghans who have divorced themselves from the insurgency in return for money and jobs from Kabul are turning back to fighting with the Taliban, disillusioned by the government’s broken promises.

The corruption and ineptitude of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul has resulted in the failure of a program meant to bribe Afghan insurgents into laying down their arms and supporting the state. The Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Program (APRP) was established in 2010 and has reportedly facilitated this type of transition for hundreds of insurgents.

“We all decided we would join the peace process,” one family member of a “reconciled” fighter explained to The Independent. “We didn’t want our children to be killed.”

But the families have received virtually none of the promised benefits – which include things like a monthly stipend of $75 for three months, and job training – and are considering going back to the insurgency for a better life of approximately equal danger but less grinding poverty.

“When we were living in the mountains, other fighters helped us,” says the mother of a former insurgent. “They brought us food and provided us with shelter. Now we have been accepted back by the government, we don’t have anything.” She added, “The government hasn’t paid any attention to us. We are very poor people. We have nothing. If we go back to the opponents of the government, maybe we will have a good life, a better life.”

This is just one illustration of why the insurgency is so strong after a decade of ruthless war and occupation. Despite the lies from Washington, the war does nothing for ordinary Afghans except impoverish them and threaten their lives on a daily basis.

The distrust of the Kabul government and the foreign occupation has been highlighted in the last week after the U.S. military’s burning of Muslim holy books sparked nationwide protests and violence. Virtually every facet of President Barack Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan is falling apart after nearly four years of failure under his direction. The harm caused by the war and occupation is clear to everyone, even those that have previously pledged to abandon the insurgency.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.