Friday, November 30, 2007

Canadian military get pushy

The Toronto Star's Middle East bureau chief, Mitch Potter, reports from Canada's area of operations on CF officers' attempts to strong-arm village leaders:

PANJWAII, Afghanistan–It was 40 unhappy Pashtoon tribal elders versus three tough-talking Canadian army officers with a rather large carrot and an even bigger stick – a stick they had never before shown.

Align with us against the Taliban, the Canadians told the chieftains, and the people of embattled Panjwaii will reap untold rewards, starting with a large stack of Ottawa-and-Washington-backed development dollars poised for the first whisper of actual security.

Remain mere observers to lawless insurgency and – here comes the stick – Panjwaii will be forgotten. Unless the elders soon seize their tribal entitlement to power and influence and take a stand, the spoils of stability will go to a more hospitable patch of Kandahar province...

The Canadians spoke firmly of security first, aid second. The Afghan elders begged for the reverse.

... Some of the greybeards wore glowering expressions, some heaved frustrated sighs, others still just stared into space with looks of sheer fatigue. (link)
For some interesting context to the above meetings, kindly see this map showing areas of government control as well as areas of insurgent control. In Panjwai, the government's writ scarcely applies anywhere, save for a couple slivers of territory.

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