The recent revelations of alleged payments by Italian forces to the Taliban of protection money has spilled over. Agence France Presse is now claiming Canadian forces also paid the Taliban for the same purpose.
Allegations and denials are now running around the world.
The Times Online has bravely if in a rather quote ridden way tried to unravel the diplomatic responses from the Italians and the US, which consist so far of the statement that no such payment was authorized by the Italian government. No reference is made to unauthorized payments.
The Toronto Star says the Canadians have unanimously stated that they haven’t paid the Taliban anything. One Canadian soldier commented that if they had, the Taliban weren’t delivering on the agreement.
In fairness to the Italians, the French may have an alleged axe or so to grind. This was also a blanket allegation by AFP. The allegation of payments by the Italians stems from a situation where the Italians were relieved by French troops in Afghanistan. The French say they weren’t aware of the arrangement with the local Taliban, and were promptly attacked when they took over the area.
It’s not clear if the French are upset that they didn’t get the chance to enter into a similar arrangement, or are upset that the enemy was being unduly socially discriminatory against French troops in some way.
This appears to be a rear area rumor in several respects, despite the Times’ apparent insistence on the facts of the case regarding the Italians. Whatever the case, the NATO position is that nobody pays the Taliban. NATO also doesn’t quite believe the stories, and states they’ve seen no proof, just anonymous allegations.
Just one minor point: Anyone who knows Canadian military history would never believe Canadian troops ever take the easy way out of anything. They never have.