What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The contracts officer

So that's what you find at the end. Much earlier this year, Alex Strick van Linschoten noted that NGOs need to pay what is essentially a protection racket to the Taliban, if they want to operate safely and deliver on projects. Some Afghanistan observers, even watching from a distance, including me, took this seriously. Then in the Spring I met an Indian professor who formerly worked in the Afghan MFA as an advisor - he knows insurgencies very well, especially the ones in Northeast India... And he said that if one wants to execute development projects there, it is perfectly normal to assume that a given percentage of the money will go to insurgents. So why would it work any differently in Afghanistan? Then all sorts of news emerged which confirmed that there is, indeed, a system of bribing the Taliban into keeping back from behaving like purely destructive insurgents. And then Jean MacKenzie reported something that I only noticed recently:

"A shadowy office in Kabul houses the Taliban contracts officer, who examines proposals and negotiates with organizational hierarchies for a percentage. He will not speak to, or even meet with, a journalist, but sources who have spoken with him and who have seen documents say that the process is quite professional."
I just had to note this, even this late. It is so fundamental.

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