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C E N T R E
Week 5 29 January 2013
Comprehensive Information on Complex Crises
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Economic Development Governance & Rule of Law Security & Force Protection Social & Strategic Infrastructure
This document provides an overview of developments in Afghanistan from 15 - 28 January 2013, with hyper-links to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to events in Afghanistan, contact the members of the Afghanistan Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org/cmo/afg.
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The World Bank says Afghanistan is the fastest growing economy in South Asia. China increases involvement in Afghanistan, attracted by mineral resources. NATO suspends prisoner transfers to the Afghan authorities. A growing number of the Afghans seeking asylum abroad. Casualties among ANSF have nearly doubled over the past year. The annual rate of Afghan troop desertions is as high as 25 per cent. The Indian and the Turkmen governments agree to accelerate the TAPI construction. The Afghan government owes USD 77 million in power bills to the DABS.
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ccording to the last World Bank report on “Global Economic Prospects 2013”, Afghanistan is the fastest growing economy in South Asia, increasing by 11 per cent in 2012, reports Khaama Press. In contrast, Afghanistan’s neighbours were severely hit by the global economic crisis. The agricultural sector was the main driver of Afghanistan’s economic growth during 2012 due to a good harvest, contributing 35 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Another sign of improvement in the country’s economy was a drastic decline in the inflation rate from 11 per cent to 5.4 per cent. Notwithstanding, the World Bank report warns about a reduction in economic growth in the next three years following the withdrawal of the international troops. The report highlights: “The transition process, which is associated with a decline in military and civilian aid, and the upcoming presidential elections could further increase uncertainty in the medium term and take a toll on investor confidence. Projections suggest that even with favourable assumptions, real GDP growth may fall from the average of 10 per cent per year experienced over the past decade to 4-6 per cent for 20132015.” In this regard, Afghanistan must take charge of its economy, shifting away from an aidreliant to a self-sufficient economy. The report proposes the opening of the country to foreign investment and the stimulation of the private sector as the primary drivers of Afghanistan’s future economic growth.
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A recent article by Wadsam describes China’s increasing involvement in Afghanistan, attracted by the country’s wealth in mineral resources, as the United States and its allies coincidentally prepare their withdrawal. Estimates say that Afghanistan could yield one trillion USD worth of minerals, and so far, the Chinese have already won the rights to exploit a copper mine in Logar province, an investment project valued at one billion USD. China, a long-time bystander to the conflict in Afghanistan, could become the ultimate winner if it continues to leverage the country’s wealth without shedding a single drop of blood. Andrew Small, a China expert at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, says China is playing the same natural role it played over the past decade with other Central Asian countries: “If you are able to see a more
or less stable situation in Afghanistan, if it becomes another relatively normal Central Asian state, China will be the natural beneficiary. […] China is the only actor who can foot the level of investment needed in Afghanistan to make it succeed and stick it out.” For instance, data from the International Monetary Fund shows that trade with China represents 21 per cent of Turkmenistan’s and 32 per cent of Tajikistan’s GDPs. China’s trade with Afghanistan stood at 1.3 per cent in 2011. Therefore, given Afghanistan’s strategic location, the two countries are expected to significantly increase economic ties in the mid-term. Experts agree that sooner or later, China will have to participate in the political and economic stabilisation of Afghanistan. Wan Lian, a Central Asian expert at Beijing University, states: “A stable Afghanistan is of vital importance to (China). China can’t afford to stand aside following the U.S. troop withdrawal and in the process of political transition.” Davood Moradivan, from the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, adds “The Chinese are ambiguous. They don’t want the Taliban to return to power and are concerned about a vacuum after 2014 that the Taliban could fill, but they also don’t like having U.S. troops in their neighbourhood.” In similar news, insecurity in the cement and copper-rich Kandahar province has benefitted many illegal mining operations in the birthplace of the Taliban, says Pajhwok Afghan News. Experts say that Kandahar has large untapped energy and mineral resources that could contribute to the country’s economic development. Sher Shah Rashad, a geology teacher at the University of Kandahar, claims that the province is rich in coal, copper, precious and semiprecious stones, and marble. In addition, Kandahar’s cement industry, if developed, could meet 80 per cent of the country’s cement demand. Rashad criticises the central government for failing to conduct surveys and develop mineral resources in Kandahar. Nevertheless, the mines provincial director Mohammad Nabi Siddique, said insecurity in the province is to blame for the government’s failure to further develop the sector and prevent illegal mining, which is controlled by local warlords and other powerful individuals. The Kandahar provincial governor Tooryali Weesa said that if security and illegal mining were overcome, legal mine extractions could help resolve many economic problems in the province and would pave the way for an industrial revolution. The International Budget Partnership recently released the “Open Budget Survey 2012”, an independent, comparative and regular measure of budget transparency and accountability around the world. According to this survey, the transparency in Afghanistan’s national budget has improved from 21 per cent to 59 per cent, the second highest improvement of the hundred countries monitored. Afghanistan is now ranked at the same level with European countries like Poland and just five points below Spain. Deputy Finance Minister Mustafa Mastoor said these results will be well received by the international community to encourage further financial assistance to the Afghan government, reports Wadsam. This news is an indication of Afghanistan’s commitment made at the Tokyo Conference in 2012, during which the Afghan government promised to bring the level of transparency in the national budget to 40 per cent. A number of other economic development issues, which emerged during the past two weeks, are summarised below. The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) has decided to end trade relations with Pakistan, says Wadsam. Pakistan is holding at least 3,000 containers belonging to Afghan traders at Karachi port, which according to the ACCI Deputy, is costing the traders a loss of USD 600,000 per day. The ACCI has recommended that the Afghan government prevent Pakistaniloaded vehicles from entering Afghanistan. Mobile money transfer services are expanding in Afghanistan, reports Tolo News. Currently, two telecommunication companies are offering mobile money transfer and two more are in the process of obtaining licenses. According to the central bank, salaries of public servants and other government staff are already being paid through mobile money transfer. Herat shoemakers are asking Afghan authorities to support domestic products and increase taxes on footwear, informs Pajhwok. Protestors complain that Chinese and Pakistan products have damaged local business, with up to 135 shoe manufacturers in the province being forced to close. Amid complaints over the high prices of liquefied gas, the Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries announced that it has fixed the price of gas at AFG 55, reports Wadsam.
Governance & Rule of Law
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ATO has issued an immediate suspension of prisoner transfers to the Afghan authorities after confirming reports of extensive prisoner abuse, states Pajhwok Afghan News. A United Nations (UN) report states that Afghan authorities continue to torture prisoners by such means as hanging them by their wrists and beating them with cables, according to the Associated Press. The report states there has been little progress in curbing such abuse despite efforts by the UN and the international military forces. Furthermore, the report also cites instances of Afghan authorities attempting to hide mistreatment from UN monitors. The first abuses were documented by the UN in 2011, after which the Afghan government promised detention reform. Though initial statements from the Afghan government seemed to issue a direct dismissal of the allegations, President Hamid Karzai has since appointed a delegation to investigate torture, humiliation and sexual abuse of the prisoners, says Khaama Press. Transfer of prisoners from international to Afghan hands has proved to be one of the more controversial elements of the transition process. According to Tolo News, the head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission Musa Mahmoodi accepted the findings of the report. In contrast, the Ministry of Interior and the National Directorate of Security, two bodies with authority over prisons and detainees, rejected the report and dismissed the allegations.
29 January 2013
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said on 23 January it had adopted a new voter registration plan for 2014 presidential and provincial council polls, accepting old voting cards as well as computerised identity cards, reports Tolo News. This comes after months of insistence that new registrations for all voting citizens were necessary to reduce fraud in the upcoming election. IEC chief Fazel Ahmad Manawe recently told Tolo News that there will be no transparency in the 2014 presidential election if President Karzai’s plan of reusing old voter cards is implemented. Under the new plan, electronic cards will reportedly only be issued to those citizens who were not registered in the last election. IEC’s secretariat chief Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhel said the commission will give the list of 7,000 polling stations to security organisations who will be responsible for securing the stations before commencing new voter registration. Meanwhile, Outlook Afghanistan reports that the UN is currently conducting the second phase of an Electoral Needs Assessment Mission at the behest of the IEC. In other elections-related news, Mahmoud Karzai, a brother of President Hamid Karzai, has renounced his American citizenship and announced his intention to take a more active role in the politics of Afghanistan, reports Tolo News. In an interview, he stated that he does not plan to campaign in the upcoming 2014 presidential election. However, he will support another one of President Karzai’s brothers, Qayoum, if he decides to join the presidential race. There have been concerns about family members of President Karzai running for the office, as they would have an advantage of support within the Afghan government. President Karzai denied such allegations, stating that neither the government nor any other group will be permitted to interfere in the country’s presidential election. A number of political leaders have opposed President Hamid Karzai’s plan for a Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, of tribal elders to decide on the question of US forces’ immunity from Afghan legal jurisdiction after 2014, states Tolo News. President Karzai had previously stated that such a decision should be made by the Afghan people, not the Afghan government and, hence, recommended a Loya Jirga. Some political parties and coalition groups said that the continued presence of US troops is essential for Afghanistan’s stability after international forces withdraw in 2014 and it should not be up to the tribal elders to decide on a matter of such importance. Civil society activists have voiced concerns over a growing number of Afghans seeking asylum abroad, reports Tolo News. They expect this brain drain to further weaken the country, as skilful people needed to rebuild the country are the ones more likely to leave. Already, there is reportedly a shortage of staff and capacity in government agencies. The Parliamentary Commission on International Affairs has, for instance, reported that in the past eight years, governmental officials, diplomats, journalists, athletes and students have not returned to Afghanistan after making a visit abroad. The Global Consultancy Group STATT recently released a report that surveyed some 20,000 Afghans about their intentions to leave the country before the withdrawal of international forces in 2014. The report concludes that Afghans who have the means to leave do consider such an option in an event that the 2014 power transition leads to protracted conflict. A number of other articles related to governance and rule of law appeared these past two week, including those summarised below. Afghanistan’s first female district governor has started work in the country, states Khaama Press. Saira Shekib was elected in Jowzjan province as Khwaja Do-Koh district chief. Since the fall of the Taliban regime, there have been employment opportunities for women in governmental and non-governmental organizations, with Afghan laws permitting 25 per cent of the lawmakers to be women. A disagreement between two Afghan lawmakers quickly became violent during a parliamentary session on 15 January in Kabul, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). The scuffle between Kandahar deputy Mohammad Naim Lalai and Herat deputy Farhad Majidi erupted as lawmakers were deliberating over whether to impeach eleven Afghan ministers. Impeachment proceedings were brought against the ministers last year after their ministries spent less than half of their allocated budgets. Officials said an investigation has been launched to explain the violent incident. This comes as lawmakers on 23 January rejected for the second time the national budget for the 1392 fiscal year (Mar 2013-Mar 2014), citing disagreement over the allocation of funds, states Tolo News. Many government organisations in Nangarhar province owe a combined USD 20 million to the state-owned electricity provider Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, the provincial office of the power administrator told Tolo News. Head of Nangarhar electricity department Muhibrahman Momand said only the departments of communications, public works and rural development are up to date with their bills. According to a spokesman of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Janan Musazai, some of the top Taliban leaders based in Pakistan expressed an interest in peace negotiations with the Afghan government, also acknowledging the importance of Pakistan’s role in facilitating direct meetings with the Afghan government, reports Pajhwok.
Security & Force Protection
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ollowing a suicide attack near police and intelligence headquarters in the heart of Kabul on 16 January, another assault in the capital occurred on 21 January, as Taliban suicide bombers clashed with Afghan security forces during an eight-hour siege, reports The Telegraph. The assault killed three traffic policemen and wounded twelve people, including four traffic policemen and eight civilians. The Telegraph, speculates that a possible motive behind the two attacks was to undermine US and NATO claims that Afghan local forces are capable of providing security. Despite these attacks, The British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond sees the Taliban as “struggling to maintain the momentum of the insurgency,” further adding that “there is absolutely no evidence to sug29 January 2013 Page 3
gest [the Taliban] have the reserves to press a button and significantly increase the tempo of the insurgency”. In a reaction to the two incidents that occurred in Kabul, Hammond concluded that “this doesn’t look to me like an insurgency with a lot of reserve firepower.” Around 1,100 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in the past six months as Afghan security forces have assumed the leading role of the security control from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in major cities and provinces of Afghanistan, writes The Guardian. The British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that casualties among Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) had possibly doubled over the past year. Lieutenant General Richard Barrons attributed the increasing casualties in the past six month to attacks from roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Meanwhile, the Afghan government officials confirmed that over 80 per cent of the Afghan security forces’ casualties in 2012 were caused by IEDs, reports Khaama Press. To compound the increased number of casualties among ANSF, desertion rates from the Afghan army have also spiked, with Hammond stating that “good leadership, decent pay, decent food and the end of corruption” were key to halting desertion, reports The Guardian. In other related news, Tolo News writes that the rate of Afghan troop desertions is as high as 25 per cent annually, with some military analysts attributing it to the impending withdrawal of the international forces from Afghanistan. The target was to keep the level of desertion to 1.6 per cent a month for the ANSF’s 350,000 members, according to The Guardian. However, the monthly average has stood at 2.6 per cent, reaching 3.1 per cent in October 2012. In reaction to the figures of Afghan troops deserting to the Taliban in the past four months, the spokesman of the Afghan Ministry of Interior Sediq Seddiqi, stated that since “86 per cent of Afghanistan is secured by Afghan National Security Forces, these ten, twenty, or thirty who have left for different reasons were those who would have been definitely identified and dismissed one day [anyway],” writes Tolo News. His statement came after four Afghan police officials joined insurgents in Nimroz on 22 January, taking with them a police vehicle and weapons. Former Afghan spy chief Amrullah Saleh castigated the Islamic Republic of Iran for interfering in Afghanistan, seeing Iran as a major and continuous threat for the national security of the country, reports Khaama Press. According to Saleh, Iran pursues multiple policies in Afghanistan – on one hand, maintaining good relations with the government of Afghanistan and n the other hand, supporting Shi’ite minority groups through Qom region by providing them financial support for the mosques and by training Afghanistan’s religious clerics. In other security-related news from Afghanistan: Kam Air, Afghanistan’s largest private airline has been accused of smuggling “bulk” quantities of opium on civilian flights to Tajikistan, which constitutes the main corridor through which drugs reach the rest of the world, reports Khaama Press. Kam Air has been blacklisted by the US military and barred this month from receiving US military contracts. Around 35 local and foreign militants were killed or injured following drone strikes on 22 January in Kamdish district, considered one of the most volatile regions in Nuristan province, reports Khaama Press. ISAF spokesman General Günter Katz said on 28 January that “the security situation is improving,” with the insurgency having decreased by 14 per cent in areas that have transitioned to Afghan forces’ control, reports Pajhwok. Local authorities in Ghazni province say an Afghan man has been killed after a failed rape attempt, along with the victim, in DehYak district, reports Khaama Press. The district attorney general chief confirmed the report and had the following to say: “A man was trying to rape a woman while her husband was away from home, but the relatives of the woman killed her along with the man after they were informed of the incident.” Residents of Logar province, including government officials and provincial council members, warned the Taliban that they will retaliate if the insurgents continue to disrupt and prevent initiation and execution of government-backed development projects, reports Pajhwok. According to a provincial elder, they are open to peace negotiations with the insurgents; however, if the peace talks fail, they will resume armed retaliation. Another elder stated that Logar dwellers “cannot afford to live anymore with problems [such as unemployment, and the lack of basic facilities], which the government has failed to resolve.”
Social & Strategic Infrastructure
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uring the bilateral Fourth Meeting of the India-Turkmenistan Inter-Governmental Commission, the Indian Prime Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Rashid Meredov showed full commitment to implement the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, reports The Financial Express. In an open statement, Indian President Rashtrapati Bhavan said: “India is deficient in energy resources whereas Turkmenistan is rich in hydrocarbon. Our common endeavor should be to build enduring ties between our two friendly countries, based on a long-term energy partnership. This project is mutually beneficial for economic reasons. It is also important for bringing peace and development to our common region.” The two countries agreed to take necessary steps for the early realisation of the TAPI project, which is expected to come into operation by August 2017, adds The Hindu. The issue of the TAPI gas pipeline was also raised during a recent meeting held in Turkmenistan between Central Asian and Western countries as well as different United Nations agencies, reports Wadsam. During the meeting, parties exchanged views on important aspects of cooperation aimed at establishing processes of regular political consultations as well as searching mutually agreed solutions on various regional issues. The parties noted the strategic importance of the TAPI, not only in economic terms but also at enhancing regional security and cooperation in Central and South Asia. 29 January 2013 Page 4
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office in Tajikistan organised a one day workshop on 28 January to discuss common water management and environmental challenges in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The aim of the event was to raise awareness and identify solutions to many of the water management and environmental challenges faced by the two countries. “Today’s event contributes to the dialogue between the two countries aimed at facilitating the exchange of information and sharing best practices in river basins management in the region,” said Hans Peter Larsen, the Deputy Head of the OSCE office in Dushanbe. The workshop, which was attended by more than 70 people, focused on water management, hydrological and ecological monitoring, disaster risk management, environmental degradation and climate change, with special attention given to the upper Amu-Darya river basin. The objective of these initiatives is to avoid potential conflicts around the overstressed water resources in the region. In this regard, Brahama Chellaney, a water specialist in Asia, recently warned of the security concerns arising from water scarcity in the region in an interview with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. In addition, Chellaney pointed out that the conflicts over water resources are not only between South Asian and Central Asian countries but also within Afghanistan. According to Chellaney, Afghanistan has seem an emergence of water warlords supported by militias who “are controlling sources of water for their community or for their province” using force. A recent article in Wadsam illustrates the recent growth of Afghanistan’s national electricity company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS). The company, established under the Corporation and Limited Liabilities Law of Afghanistan in 2008, has served as the nation’s main power utility, and the equity shares are owned entirely by government entities (ministries of Finance, Energy and Water, Economy, and Urban Development Affairs). Since it was established, the DABS has exponentially gained customers nationwide, which has obligated the company to increase its imports of energy (3 million of MW for 2012) from neighbouring countries in order to meet the demand of electricity. At the same time, DABS has invested in new infrastructure such as transmission lines and substations funded by its own revenues or international assistance. However, DABS is not free of challenges. A recent article from Pajhwok Afghan News pointed out that the Afghan government has a debt of more than USD 77 million in power bills with the DABS. Mirwais Alami, the DABS’ marketing chief, urged government authorities to clear the outstanding bills to ensure the sustainability of the company’s financial health. On 23 January, a USD 250 million grant was signed between the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank to finance the ongoing third phase of the National Solidarity Program (NSP), according to a World Bank press release. The NSP has been a vital social cohesion mechanism for thousands of communities nationwide. Omar Zakhilwal, Afghan Minister of Finance highlighted that “NSP has empowered women; enhanced local governance; provided basic infrastructure services; and improved perception of government in the minds of most Afghans.” The NSP is currently operational in all 34 provinces aiming at building, strengthening and maintaining community development councils as effective institutions for local governance and socioeconomic development. The programme has disbursed over USD 1.2 billion and more than 65,000 communities planned and implemented rural socio-infrastructure projects through the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. The main sectors tackled by the projects are water and sanitation, rural roads, irrigation, electrification and education. A number of other social and strategic infrastructure issues emerged this past week, including those summarised below. The Afghan Minister of Energy and Water Mohammed Ismail Khan and his Iranian counterpart, Majid Namjoo, inaugurated the installation of two power generators in Kabul, reports Wadsam. The generators, each with a generation capacity of 50 MW, were acquired by Iran from Germany at a cost of USD 10 million. Khan said that the generators would be exclusively used in case of emergency. In addition, both ministers announced an agreement for Iran to increase the export to electricity to Afghanistan up to 140 MW. The national airline, Ariana Afghan Airlines, and the private Kama Air have reached an agreement to merge, says Tolo News. Sources from both companies say that the merger aims to face the stiff competition from international airlines. The High Office of Oversight and Anticorruption confirmed they are investigating the how the decision of the merger has been accepted by the Council of Ministers. In spite of the recent improvement in the Kandahar’s electricity network, residents continue to complain about power shortages, according to Wadsam. Deputy Director of Energy and Water Amanullah Farooqi said that the installation of the third turbine at the Kajaki dam will help to overcome these problems.
29 January 2013
Recent Readings & Resources “Afghanistan: Meeting the Real World Challenges of Transition”, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, January 2013 by Anthony H. Cordesman. “Humanitarian Bulletin Afghanistan Issue 11”, United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, December 2012. “Turned Away: Summary Returns of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Adult Asylum Seekers from Italy to Greece”, Human Rights Watch, January 2013. “Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody”, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, January 2013. “Afghanistan Price Bulletin – January 2013”, Famine Early Warning System Network and World Food Programme, January 2013. “Civil-military coordination – Humanitarian Exchange Magazine Issue 56”, ODI – Humanitarian Practice Network, January 2013. “All Bets are Off! Prospects for (B)reaching Agreements and Drug Control in Helmand and Nangarhar in the run up to Transition”, Afghanistan Research Evaluation Unit, January 2013 by David Mansfield.
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ENGAGE WITH US 29 January 2013
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