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.