June Deadliest Month for NATO in Afghanistan;
Congress cuts Civilian Aid by $4 bn.

As the Senate confirmed Gen. David Petraeus as commander of US troops in Afghanistan, CNN estimated that 101 NATO troops (including Americans) were killed in June, the highest total ever since the NATO presence began in 2001. The Pentagon maintains that such a spike in troop deaths is to be expected given the counter-insurgency push that began this winter, in which troops were given the task of ‘taking, clearing, holding and building’ in Pashtun territory.

Taliban guerrillas boldly attacked a NATO air base at the eastern Pashtun city of Jalabad on Tuesday. A Taliban spokesman said that the operation was intended to send a signal to Gen. Petraeus, that they considered him no different from any other general. At least one NATO soldier was killed in the assault becoming death number 101 for June). A Taliban spokesman said that six of them detonated their payloads or were killed, while 4 escaped. NATO said that there were 6-8 attackers and all were killed. The Pajhwok News Agency reports, “A top Afghan army official on the base, Col. Jahangir Azimi, said six attackers, equipped with two machine guns, automatic rifles and a rocket launcher, stormed the airbase from its northern gate. One bomber blew himself up at the gate and the rest of the attackers infiltrated the camp, he added. Two of the bombers were killed by Afghan soldiers and three others were hunted by NATO choppers which were immediately called after the explosion, Col. Azimi further said.”

Aljazeera English has video:

The battle of Marawara in the eastern Kunar province between NATO forces and Taliban continued on Wednesday. It began on Sunday, when two US troops and a third NATO soldier were killed.

Meanwhile, Congress cut $4 billion out of civilian aid to Afghanistan, owing to fears that it was just being eaten up by corruption. Afghanistan is listed as the second most corrupt country in the world after Somalia by Transparency International, and reports have circulated for months about mysterious large shipments of cash out of Kabul airport to Dubai. It has also been alleged that money paid to security contractors in Afghanistan who oversee the safety of US convoys is often in turn paid out to Taliban as a bribe not to attack the convoys. Still, the civilian aid money is crucial to the Obama administration’s counter-insurgency campaign, and it had been hoped that providing, e.g., more electricity to Pashtun areas such as the city of Qandahar might help NATO and the Karzai government blunt the appeal of the Taliban there. Apparently, though, the money was not so much denied as put in escrow until a better general accounting system can be put in to keep track of it.

Aljazeera English reported last winter on corruption in Kabul:

The Pakistani Urdu newspaper Nawa-i Waqt reported on Weds. June 30, as translated by the USG Open Source Center, that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is meeting resistance from the US in his attempts to negotiate with the Old Taliban of Mullah Omar via Mullah Baradar, the organization’s number 2 leader, who was taken into custody by Pakistan. The US seems uninterested in the captive, who has already been replaced and is now an object of suspicion on the part of the Taliban, since he has been in Pakistani custody. The article says that in any case Mullah Omar is uninterested in talking to the US, since he is convinced that the Westerners will soon leave the country:

“Mullah Beradar, the second in command of the Afghan Taliban after the outfit chief, Mullah Umar, is still in the custody of Pakistan. Pakistani officials are still trying to retrieve information from him. They are also engaged in judging his possible role and usefulness in terms of improving the internal situation of Afghanistan. Earlier, former Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Matwakal and Mullah Abdussalam Zaif, former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan had also made efforts to move ahead for the US sponsored process of reconciliation. According to sources, some reports disclosed that Mullah Beradar is neither being released nor he is being handed over to the United States or Afghanistan.

According to these sources, there is no doubt that Mullah Beradar was a key Taliban leader, but now he is a tale of the past. Mullah Umar has already appointed two deputies in his place. Now Mullah Beradar is no more a trustworthy person for the Taliban after his arrest. Therefore, his immediate release for any potential benefit will be useless, the sources say. However, the important point is that Pakistan is not treating Mullah Beradar as a prisoner and nor the United States has made any demand for his custody. In fact, Hamid Karzai is more active than the United States regarding Mullah Beradar, as the sources reveal. Sources say that he is desirous of including this important Taliban leader in his efforts for reconciliation. According to sources, the United States and Pakistan know it well how much appreciation Karzai’s efforts for national reconciliation will receive in Afghanistan. Despite tireless efforts of mediators, the Taliban led by Mullah Umar have not yet directly engaged themselves in any efforts made for talks with the United States and the Karzai administration, according to the sources. The sources say that the Taliban are sure that the United States is about to flee Afghanistan. Therefore, the Taliban reportedly think that talks are useless …”

13 Responses

  1. In celebration of its Golden Jubilee, the Indo-American Society (IAS) is proud to convene the first ever Indo-American Summit on Higher Education during 30, 31 July 2010 and 1 August 2010 at the Hotel Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

    The Summit will present participants with an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with key business, political and academic personalities at a national and international level and address important issues, particularly in regard to policy framing and regulations and international partnerships.

  2. No matter, we can always bomb all the corruption out of Afghanistan and any other country as well. Let us now drone all Afghans who we think are corrupt. Such is the insanity and perversity of this war. We must leave Afghanistan now, only President Obama will stay forever.

  3. the “corruption” video makes us look pathetic — after almost 10 years, we can’t enforce contracts because they are in another language? because receipts and records are not available — shit — send in a few thousand $100 (or $300) lap tops and give Babel-fish and/or Rosetta Stone a few millions to create translation-helper / translation training programs. Have the Chinese and Indian monopolized all the “good” translators?

    I was also uncertain if the $00.30 of every $1.00 of reconstruction funds that actually goes to reconstruction means that a $10,000 bridge repair ends up costing over $30,000 or if we end up with a crappy inadequate, shoddy or unfinshed $3,000 bridge repair. Not to mention the unmentioned “jobs” our reconstruction created and what secondary/tertiary effect they may be having. (When I read that the Afghans want us to stay — I find myself wondering what their “legitimate” economy would consist of if we decamped.

    If we are ultimately paying $30,000 for a $10,000 repair job — we are part of the problem and have obviously learned nothing from the rampant thievery we allowed, aided and abetted in Iraq. I suspect when there is competition among thieves to see how much they can extort and just how little work they can get away with actually paying for.

    Where I live the conventional wisdom is that most home renovations cost twice as much and take twice as long as agreed upon — even with a signed contract — is this corruption or just the way of the world? Ae cost “overruns” the result of giving contracts to people who deliberately “bid” below costs, and then adjust costs after the contract has been secured. Are we (and our subcontractors) actually reinforcing bad practices by paying what amounts to “bonuses” for work behind schedule or abandoned?

    Dexter Filkins on Charlie Rose said that corruption in Baghdad was so bad that a bribe was required to be allowed to enter the airport — how much of a bribe? not mentioned. did he pay it? not asked (I assumed he did, he made his flight and it could go on his expense account as a gratuity) — was that briber back the next day? you betcha. If he work a red suite , a jaunty hat and white gloves, would he have been less offensive as a “self-appointed” doorman who sized up each person’s ability to pay as they approached him. Is it a tip or a gratuity? Did Filkin’s report this to ANYONE? Not that he mentioned. But I suspect he will be repeating this story for the rest of his life — how bad was corruption in Baghdad? It was so bad ….

    • Yes, it would be very nice if someone could explain to me the difference between ‘tipping’ – which appears to me to be pretty compulsory ( at least in the USA) and a bribe ..is it to do with timing – one paid prior to service delivery the other after, or is it just dependent on who is telling the tale?

    • Also, the ‘cost overruns’ etc that you describe are blackmail pure and simple …..you want the job done/finished so you pay. To anyone looking at this system of deliberate under quoting , bonuses ( for actually delivering what is agreed!) ,and extra charges to cover ‘cost overruns’ to would clearly be corrupt.

      • Ikea has halted investment in Russia citing corruption …
        with amazing stories

        quote ” Ikea said Tuesday that it was suspending further investment in Russia, apparently because of pervasive corruption and demands for bribes.

        The announcement came after a rare statement by Ikea’s 83-year-old founder in a radio interview that Ikea had decided not to solve problems by slipping money under the table

        snip

        In a statement, Ikea’s Russia director cited the “unpredictability of administrative processes” in Russia as the basis of the decision. Outside experts said that was the company’s way of describing a pattern of bribe-taking and shakedowns by Russian officials that had become intolerable. “” unquote

        NPR, I think, had a gruesome and mindboggling account of their attempts to build a flagship store in Moscow — when ready for opening they were unable to get the electricity turned on.

        link to nytimes.com

        I am suspicious that “corruption” has become a fig-leaf excuse for a multitude of sins in which we are complicit — If only it weren’t for the corruption, we sigh. Like cleanliness or the need for most people to work on improving their spelling or arithmetic, it’s a universally recognized and shared “outrage” that in Afghanistan (and in many poorly managed 3rd world countries), by my recollection, has been legendary for decades if not centuries.

        What is gained by undermining Karzai by blaming this all on his very weak, corrupt, inept, self-serving (I’ve learned the Karzai buzz words) centralized government? The Russians seem equally “incapable” of dealing with it. — It’s not really “like the weather” — it’s man-made and seems to work very well for many people in many situations in the short-term, in the long term, it’s is genuinely debilitating.

        Now, about those alleged suitcases of cash — shall we rejoice it’s not shrinkwrapped palates of newly minted $100 bills?

  4. This is a good series of articles on what was going on in Afghanistan since the beginning:
    link to cursor.org
    4 part article.
    It is surprising to see the US Congress waking up only now – bunch of hypocrites

  5. Did ya think Congress is a bunch of fools? Since MaCrystals’ organization is gone, there is no one enjoy and launder a good portion of those $4B for our socialist corporations. Just you wait, when Gen. P sets up his organization – the taxpayer’s will be happy to part with $5B. Just you wait Prof. Cole.

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