Britain Eyes “Afghan Awakening” With Helmand Bribes

As the war in Afghanistan continues to go poorly, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is hoping to negotiate a political sentiment with the Taliban insurgency. But the international forces seem intent on shoe-horning the strategy they are convinced “succeeded” in Iraq onto the ever-worsening situation in the region.

To that end, the British government is reportedly bankrolling a plan called the “Afghan Social Outreach Programme,” or Asop. Under that plan tribal elders hand-picked by the Helmand provincial government would receive an annual stipend in return for attending regular meetings designed to mobilize tribesmen against the Taliban.

The plan is intended to mirror the Sunni Awakening Councils mobilized against the insurgency in Iraq. But the fact that the money is funneled through the Afghan government to hand-picked people, and the high amount of the stipends (30 percent more than government employees earn) have are sparking charges of bribery in advance of next year’s election. One analyst labeled the move “anti-democratic” and warned that the patronage plan “runs the risk of generating friction and resentment.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.