More depressing news from Ghazni, Afghanistan, an area outside of Kabul seeing fierce fighting between the US forces and the Taliban:
"When United States troops in the southern province of Ghazni handed out cash to village elders, they must have thought they were winning friends. The money, intended for bridges, wells, drinking water, irrigation systems and other infrastructure projects, was supposed to convince the local Afghans that the foreign presence would benefit their country in general and themselves in particular. After distributing the funds to villagers in Ghazni’s Andar district in early October, the US soldiers departed, having done their best to get the district on side. Their hearts and minds campaign is part of a major anti-Taleban offensive codenamed Operation Mountain Fury, which US-led coalition forces launched in mid-September in conjunction with the Afghan National Army, ANA."
Winning hearts and minds by distributing money? Not so much:
"But the resources intended to combat Taleban influence ended up doing just the opposite. Local people in several parts of Andar district told IWPR that almost as soon as the coalition forces left their villages, the money found its way into Taleban coffers to finance the jihad against the foreigners."
“American money is haram [unlawful in Islam],” said Abdul Jalil, an elder in one village. “We could not use it to improve our lives. So we decided to give it to the Taleban. The most important thing we could do with this money was help the Taleban to pursue the jihad.” At a gathering in the local mosque, mullahs exhorted the faithful to reject foreign blandishments and contribute to the insurgency, said Jalil. The elders agreed, so the Taleban were summoned and the money handed over."
Who was it that said "you can't win hearts and minds in the Middle East, you can only rent them"?
"Asked about the military’s cash handouts, Larry Falkenhausen, a spokesman for the Provincial Reconstruction Team, PRT, in Ghazni, acknowledged there had been problems, but said such incidents were few and far between. “The Andar district chief told us it happened in one village,” he told IWPR. "
"District chief Muhammad Rahim Disiwal, however, suggested that a number of villages were involved, though he suggested the aid money was extorted from the civilian population rather than given freely. “We have received such reports from some villages,” he said. “The Taleban have used force to take aid materials distributed to villagers, which shows how they are robbing poor people and that they won’t even let other people help them.”