Million dollar militia

September 4, 2010


People & Power examines dangerous conflicts between the US and Nato strategies in the fight against the Taliban.

Early this year, a rare bright spot emerged in the US’s longest war. The Shinwari tribe of eastern Afghanistan signed a treaty pledging to expel the Taliban from their territory and to end poppy cultivation and heroin production. In return the US military pledged $1mn in aid to be paid directly to the Shinwari, bypassing the Afghan government in the process. Comparisons were immediately drawn to the “Awakening Movement” in Iraq, where Sunni tribal militias were hired to fight the insurgency. Others warn that bypassing the Afghan government in this way could undermine an already fragile state. So who are the US’s new tribal allies? And can they really help bring lasting stability to Afghanistan? Filmmakers Rick Rowley and Jason Motlagh went to find out.



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