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Afghanistan
Week 11 25 March 2013

Review

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 12 March– 24 March 2013, with hyperlinks 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 by visiting www.cimicweb.org/cmo/afg.

Highlighted Topics
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►Clicking the links in this list will take you to the appropriate section.

China will commence commercial production of Afghan crude oil this year. Traders protest nation-wide in response to municipal taxes instated by the Cabinet. The US transfers full control of Bagram prison to Afghanistan. President Karzai’s spokesman describes NATO mission as “illogical and aimless”. Hundreds of Afghans stage a protest in Kabul against US presence in Wardak. A popular uprising against insurgents spreads to a dozen of villages. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline may endanger the future of TAPI pipeline. A trilateral framework agreement on a new railway via Afghanistan signed.

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Economic Development

Nekia Lane►nekia.lane@cimicweb.org

CFC publications are independently produced by Desk Officers and do not reflect NATO or ISAF policies or positions of any other organisation.
The CFC is part of NATO Allied Command Operations.

CONTACT THE CFC
For further information, contact: Afghanistan Team Leader rainer.gonzalez@cimicweb.org The Afghanistan Team afghanistan@cimicweb.org

ajor developments are underway to extract Afghanistan’s vast trove of untapped resources as the nation’s mining minister announces plans for China’s largest oil company to begin crude oil production this year, reports The Wall Street Journal. China National Petroleum Corporation is allegedly prepared to jumpstart the production to 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) within a few weeks – and 25,000 bpd by the end of the year – in Amu-Darya Basin. Afghan Minister of Mines Wahidullad Shahrani informed the press that this output could increase to 40,000 bpd in 2014. The crude oil would then be transported by truck out of the landlocked nation to an undisclosed northern neighbour with whom negotiations are currently underway. The project could potentially exploit resources worth an estimated 45 per cent of the nation’s GDP by 2024 but needs a further USD 600 million investment. On 20 March, the minister met with potential mining investors to mitigate the inherent hesitation that accompanies prospective investment in Afghanistan due to security risks. Shahrani stressed that major reforms at the regulatory and procedural levels protect foreign investors who are allowed to assume 100 per cent control of projects. He further noted, “We are heading towards a transition at the end of 2014…heavy investments have been made to enhance the capability of our s ecurity forces with the active involvement of NATO and the U.S. government”. An Indian consortium, headed by the Steel Authority of India Ltd, is in final negotiations for Asia’s largest iron-ore deposit in central Afghanistan. Bids for international tender on gold, copper and iron ore will open later this year. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) has announced nationwide trader protests in response to the Cabinet’s instatement of municipal taxes known as octroi, which are charged on various goods upon entering Afghan cities, reports Afghanistan Times. ACCI representative Mohammad Qurban Haqjo condemns the octroi, stating “This decision will not only pave the ground for more corruption but also send the prices of daily use commodities soaring for the poverty-stricken masses”.

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At a press conference in Kabul, the representative announced that traders are willing to pay the tax as long as it is through a more transparent system and is not at the entry points. The matter has progressed in recent weeks as Afghan traders have followed through with threats of retaliation, halting the supply of goods to major cities for the last three weeks to protest what Afghan traders and the ACCI view as a non-transparent method of collecting taxes, reports Wadsam. Khan Jan Alokozay, deputy chief of the ACCI announced that the number of stranded trucks has increased from 3,000 to 6,000 and claimed “The government is responsible for the rising prices of food items and construction materials. If the government does not meet our demands by revoking the octroi, we will continue to protest”. Kabul hosted a joint conference over the weekend for Afghan and Indian companies interested in developing investment opportunities and trade ties between the two nations, reports The Afghanistan Express. Eighteen Indian companies attended from various sectors, including agriculture, water consulting services, cement production, energy and infrastructure, car manufacturing, electronics and transportation. Chief of the ACCI Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, speaking at the conference, commented on hopes for increased trade with India, and expectations for mutually beneficial contracts between Afghan and Indian investors. Guatam Paudia, India’s ambassador to Kabul said, “Development of economic ties with the Afghan government is one of the main strategies of the Indian government. We believe that economic and political stability are interconnected and essential for Afghanistan”. Furthermore, India’s ambassador to the US highlighted Afghanistan’s role as a trading hub connecting South and Central Asia at an event in Washington, reports Pajhwok Afghan News. Ambassador Nirupama Rao emphasised the importance of trade relations between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in order to achieve regional stability, stating “We have to ensure that Afghanistan plays that role [of a trade hub], fo r its own well-being. Transit and trade with Afghanistan through Pakistan into India is important in that context”. Current Pakistani and Indian re lations are fraught with condemnation from both sides on a range of issues, including land disputes in the Hi malayan territory and India’s recent hanging of a Pakistani man convicted of terrorism in New Delhi. Rao recognised that while relations between the neighbouring nations are marked by tension, the attainment of free flows of goods and services would be advantageous to the entire region. Further relevant economic development news from the last two weeks is summarised below:  Officials from Afghanistan and Turkey have signed an agreement permitting the two nations to engage in trade fairs on one another’s soil, reports Outlook Afghanistan. ACCI Chief Mohammad Qurban Haqjo and Secretary General of AfghanTurkish Industrialist and Businessmen Association Murat Akyuz penned their names in Kabul. The Turkish representative stated, “Afghanistan offers some of the best business opportunities for foreign investors, in particular for Turkish entrepreneurs”. The General Revenues Department in Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance announced a revenue increase of AFG 11 billion (USD 207 million) for the first nine months of the current fiscal year compared to last year, reports Tolo News. The head of the department, Ahmad Shah Zamanzai, said on Thursday, “Our revenues have been increasing. We are trying our best to collect taxes from all those who are eligible to pay tax. We have constantly put effort into improving the principles and simplifying the procedures”. Government officials claimed revenue s of AFG 82 billion from customs and taxes – the two predominant sources of revenue for the Afghan government. US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper released statements positing the likelihood of economic downturn in Afghanistan after the scheduled withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014, reports Wadsam. Clapper listed high rates of food insecurity, poppy cultivation, unemployment, and poverty as forces working against stabilisation once foreign aid and military spending taper off. The DNI stated, “Security gains are especially fragile in areas where ISAF surge forces have been concentrated since 2010 and are now transitioning the security lead to ANSF. The ANSF will continue to require international assistance through 2014 and beyond”. Clapper is not the first US official to express such a position on the projected state of Afghanistan’s economy after 2014; however, the Afghan government has rejected such claims as unsubstantiated. The World Food Programme Initial Market Price Bulletin for the month of February 2013 reports that the current wheat flour prices in Afghanistan have increased by 25 per cent compared to last February. There was a 26 per cent increase when compared to the 5-year average prices for February. Wadsam reports that Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) allegedly sold USD 27.5 million in a single day to Afghan money traders on 09 March 2013 and additional USD 21 million on 12 March at a rate between AFG 53.70 and AFG 53.83.

Governance & Rule of Law

Katerina Oskarsson►katerina.oskarsson@cimicweb.org

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fter weeks of negotiations, United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) transferred full control of Bagram military prison to the Afghan government on 25 March, reports Al Jazeera. The facility was renamed Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan (ANDF-P). The US agreed to the handover following Afghan government assurances “inmates who ‘pose a danger’ to Afghans and international forces will continue to be detained under Afghan law.” The US will provide transition teams and additional USD 39 million to help run the facility. The majority of the prison’s approximately 3,000 detainees were already under Afghan con25 March 2013 Page 2

trol, reports The Wall Street Journal. The US had maintained control of 100 detainees and approximately 36 non-Afghan detainees will remain under US control. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi noted that non-Afghan inmates, including Pakistanis and other nationals “are not the priority of the Afghan government, so the American cans keep them for the time being.” Leaders of the factions representing twenty Afghan opposition political parties – collectively called the Council of Co-operation of Political Parties – are reportedly in talks with the Taliban and the militant group Hezb-e Islami. The representatives seek a political resolution to the war before coalition forces withdraw. These talks will lay the groundwork for a multiparty government following the April 2014 Afghan presidential election, reports Associated Press (AP). Any viable peace deal will have to be supported by the Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar and Hez-e Islami chief Hekmatyar, who has thousands of fighters and followers primarily in northern and eastern Afghanistan, according to the article. Meanwhile, two senior Taliban officials told the AP that the Taliban are inclined to move the resolution forward and are even considering replacing their chief negotiator. The militant group Hezb-e Islami, headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has reportedly held talks with the Afghan government and US government officials; while the Taliban held talks with representatives of more than 30 countries. However, the Taliban ended formal discussions with the US last year and have rejected negotiations with the Karzai government, which the Taliban views as illegitimate. However, on 20 March Pakistan Tribune reported that Mohammad Khan, a senior member of Hezb-e Islami, refuted the media reports by stating he was “unaware of the opposition groupings talking to the fighters,” adding “[The] Council of Cooperation hasn’t yet initiated such a move.” However, Mohammad Khan, a senior member of the faction did not rule out the possibility that some of the members act individually or on their parties’ behalf. Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi exacerbated tensions between the Afghan government and NATO by describing NATO’s mission in Afghanistan as “illogical and aimless” on 19 March, reports Tolo News. This follows Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s remarks accusing NATO of colluding with the Taliban in an effort to extend the presence of coalition forces in Afghanistan. NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rassmusen refuted Karzai’s allegations as “absolutely ridiculous”, reports Reuters. The next day, Faizi questioned “why is the war still in the Afghan villages,” when “the sanctuaries of the terrorists are not in Afghanistan.” In related news, the Afghan Parliament distanced itself from Faizi’s remarks on 20 March, emphasising that Karzai’s remarks reflect his personal views rather than positions of the Afghan people in general, adds Tolo News. In reaction to the remarks, parliamentary member Mohammad Naeem Lalai Ahmadzai stated “such speeches will cause chaos in the country,” further adding, “The president is trying to remain in power by such statements. It is his personal idea, not the people’s.” Other parliamentary members acknowledged that Afghanistan still needs international cooperation and the assistance of the foreign forces as war is not over and the Afghan forces are not yet prepared to defend the country. The Afghan presidential office announced that electronic identification card distribution will commence after 23 March, reports Tolo News. The government will distribute new ID cards to an estimated 30 million Afghans in the initial stages. According to Afghan officials, the process will take place over a period of three years at a cost of USD 121 million, and is expected to generate employment for thousands of Afghans. According to Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Rahman Rahman, 400 teams will be dispatched to manage the nationwide distribution of the cards, writes Wadsam. A number of other articles related to governance and rule of law appeared over the past two weeks, including those below:  On 19 March, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted resolution 2096, extending the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) by one year through 19 March 2014, according to a UNSC statement. UNAMA will continue to manage the delivery of humanitarian assistance, provide support for Afghanistan’s transition pr ocess, assist with organising a fair presidential election set for April 2014 and if requested, support the peace and reconciliation process. The Afghan Ministry of Finance has undergone a significant staff restructuring as 34 senior positions are shuffled and adjusted, reports Outlook Afghanistan. Among those appointed is the former head of Pashtany Bank, Gul Maqsood Sabit, who is the newly ordained deputy minister of finance for revenue and custom affairs. The ministry released a statement regarding the action, saying it demonstrates the government’s commitment to preventing corruption as prompted by the Tokyo Conference. The government expects increased revenue and heightened utilisation of staff capacity as a result of the restructuring. The United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, attributed a spike in violence against Afghan women to tradition and culture, reports Reuters. The UN estimates that more than 300 women and girls were killed and more than 560 injured during 2012, a 20 per cent increase compared to the previous year. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, women have achieved rights in education, voting and employment; however there are concerns that progress will reverse following the withdrawal of forces in 2014. A new building for the Department of Huquq, a judicial organ established within the Afghan Ministry of Justice opened in Aliabad district in an effort to improve citizens’ access to justice in Kunduz province, reports Wadsam. Supported by the German and Dutch governments, the new Huquq office in Aliabad is the first of six Huquq offices, six prosecution offices and a new department of justice building currently under construction in Kunduz province and planned to open in April 2013. Page 3

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Huquq offices represent the Ministry of Justice at the district level and deal with conflicts related to private law, including land, inheritance or family disputes.  Thousands of Afghans gathered in Kabul to celebrate Nowruz New Year festival, reports Tolo News. Afghan President Hamid Karzai attended the regional celebration of Nowruz in Turkmenistan where he also met with his counterparts from the region, including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Although the Nowruz has been celebrated in the region for centuries, some religious and government figures have condemned it as un-Islamic.

Security & Force Protection

Francois Van Loven►francois.vanloven@cimicweb.org

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number of reports regarding the post-2014 foreign military presence in Afghanistan and the pending withdrawal emerged over the past two weeks. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reports that the Danish government plans to withdraw half of its current 650-strong contingent by August 2013, a year ahead of the initial schedule. UPI stated that on 16 March, the Spanish authorities also announced their plan to accelerate pullback from Qala-e Naw district in Badghis province. According to the Pakistan Observer, the remaining Spanish forces will be concentrated in Herat province until the final withdrawal in 2014. On 21 March, British Foreign Minister William Hague stated in the British Parliament that the British military presence in Afghanistan would be reduced by nearly a half in 2013. At the same time, the Minister stressed that Britain would keep its forces at a high level of readiness until the end of 2014 to be deployed if necessary. Brigadier General Bob Bruce, Commander of the Helmand British military force told BBC on 19 March, “Around 900 British troops [had] already been sent back earlier, bringing the total down to around 7000. There are plans to cut back to 5200 by the end of the year; both figures exclude the Special Forces group of around 1000.” Brisbane News disclosed on 21 March that Australia remains eager to deploy Special Forces in Afghanistan after 2014 if their presence is required by NATO, US and Afghan partners. The source mentioned that Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Zalmai Rassoul ruled out a fighting role for the Australian forces; these forces will provide training to the Afghan forces after 2014. Meanwhile, New Zealand will withdraw from Bamyan province by April 2013; the remaining troops will focus on intelligence sharing and Afghan forces training, reports Khaama Press. Hundreds of Afghans staged a protest in Kabul on 16 March again the US military presence in Wardak province, a strategic gateway to Kabul, reports Associated Press (AP). The protests were fuelled by local Afghan officials’ claims that US special operatives had allegedly committed abuses in the region against the local population. According to The New York Times, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai consequently requested all US Special Forces to withdraw from Wardak region by 10 March. Reuters added that NATO and President Karzai had eventually reached an agreement on 20 March in order to maintain most NATO and US Special Forces in the area before gradually handing control over Wardak’s security to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Despite that, Karzai and ISAF Commander General Joseph Dunford reportedly agreed to withdraw a team of commandos and transfer security to Afghan forces in Wardak’s Nirkh district – the locus of the allegations, reports AP. A popular uprising staged by villagers in southern Afghanistan last month has spread to other dozen of villages, according to a 20 March New York Times report. Initially, residents of Panjwai district in Kandahar province staged a popular uprising against the Taliban in early February, in a joint effort with the Afghan official local leaders and security forces. Although isolated uprisings flared over the last eighteen months, the source described the action as one of the most significant oppositions to the Taliban in years. The uprising is reportedly fuelled by the local population’s opposition to the Taliban’s frequent abuses and indiscriminate use of violence, primarily affecting the local population and economy. A number of other articles related to deadly incidents and casualties in Afghanistan appeared over the past two weeks, including those below:   Afghan security forces regained control of several key sectors of the Badakhshan province on 22 March after heavy clashes left 43 Taliban dead, reports Khaama Press. On 21 March, an Afghan local police member killed five other Afghan police personnel in Badghis province, according to The Huffington Post. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting, reports Tolo News. The Afghan Interior Ministry stated that the Afghan police casualties had increased by fifteen per cent during the current Afghan year, reports Khaama Press. On 17 March, NATO-Afghan troops killed a Taliban leader in Helmand province. The following day a Taliban leader and a leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) were captured during the same joint Afghan and NATO operations in Kunduz province, according to Tolo News. Khaama Press reports a high-profile senior Taliban leader was arrested in Wardak on 22 March during a joint operation by Afghan and coalition security forces.

25 March 2013

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On 15 March, the Afghan security forces in Kabul defused a truck bomb packed with nearly eight tonnes of explosives, the biggest of its kind discovered in the country, the Afghan Internal Intelligence told Reuters. A deadly skirmish broke out on 14 March at the Afghan-Uzbek border resulting in Uzbek Border Guards reportedly killing seven Afghan nationals, according to EurasiaNet. The Uzbek forces claimed that Afghan civilians tried to cross the border to seize weapons. In contrast, Afghan border police commander, General Mohammad Jan Mamozai, claims the seven killed by Uzbek border guards were members of the Afghan police.

Social & Strategic Infrastructure

Rainer Gonzalez ►rainer.gonzalez@cimicweb.org

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ome political and economic experts claim that the recent bilateral agreement on the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline will have negative effects on the future of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, reports Wadsam. According to these experts, the TAPI project might not materialise if the IP pipeline meets Pakistan’s energy needs. Security risks may also jeopardise the TAPI gas pipeline. The initial agreement stipulated that construction of the TAPI was to commence and be completed in 2012. Experts accuse the Afghan government of negligence due to inattention to the project’s implementation, says Wadsam. If Iran eventually solves Pakistan’s energy needs and the TAPI project fails, the future of the Afghan economy could suffer a major blow. In a related article by Neweurope, the General Manager of KazTransOil JSC Kairgeldy Kabyldin said that the support of oil and gas companies is critical to implement the TAPI project, similar to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. “In my opinion, there is nothing better than such economically attractive projects that actually help to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After all, a lot of money for transit will go to social projects in these transit countries,” added Kabyldin. In this regard, the Central Asia n portal Trend reported that China intends to be one of the main stakeholders in the construction of the TAPI project, even exceeding the participation of the United States and India. Yuri Sigov, a regional political expert, points out “China, rather than the U.S can be the main co nductor of the TAPI project, […] India’s presence in the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea area is extremely weak.” Sigov also highlights that many of the potential investors in the project are held back by Turkmenistan’s secrecy, adding that the US government cannot force American energy corporations Chevron or Exxon-Mobil to invest in the project as they cannot give any guarantee from the Turkmen government, which is extremely wary of the expansion or US investments in the country. China could see its participation in the TAPI as an opportunity to consolidate its influence in Afghanistan. China has also expressed interest in setting up a new pipeline linking China and Turkmenistan, via Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which would reinforce its position as a purchaser of Turkmen gas. Moreover, there will be other countries, including Russia, India and the United Arab Emirates, that will do their utmost to prevent TAPI´s implementation, seeing the project as direct competition. Uzbekistan Railways is conducting a feasibility study to evaluate the extension of the Hairatan – Mazar-e Sharif railway in Afghanistan, reports Central Asia Online. The project, which would boost economic ties with Afghanistan, would connect Sher Khan Bandar on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border with the city of Mazar-e Sharif in Balkh province. From there, the railway would be linked not only to Hairatan but also to the future railway connecting Mazar-e Sharif and Herat. The Central Asia Regional and Economic CoOperation Programme would develop and finance the USD 450 million projects. Navruz Erkinov, Uzbekistan Railways planning chief, points out this new northern railway corridor would provide uninterrupted transportation between Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Erkinov adds, “The economic and strategic expediency of such a railway has long been evident, […] It will open up more opportunities for Afghanistan to develop economically, logistically and otherwise, including the promotion of the country ’s regional ties.” In related news, the presidents of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan penned a trilateral framework agreement on the construction of a new railway linking Ashgabat and Dushanbe via Afghanistan, reports Pajhwok Afghan News. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) granted USD 200 million for the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the Afghan stateowned energy company, to extend the transmission lines originating in Turkmenistan to various parts of Afghanistan, reports a DABS press release. The extension will stretch from Turkmenistan to the cities of Shiberghan in Jawzjan and the Andkhoi in Faryab provinces. The funding also provides for installation of several substations along the line and improvement of the electricity networks in Logar and Paktiya provinces. Project completion is expected by 2016. In addition to the ADB project, the German development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFB) signed an agreement with the Afghan Ministry of Energy to Water, pledging EUR 69 million for several production projects in northern Afghanistan, writes Wadsam. A number of other social and strategic infrastructure issues emerged over the past two weeks, including those summarised below:  The Afghan Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation announced its plan to construct of a new airport for small aircraft in Nuristan province, reports Tolo News. The airport will cost USD 2 million and will be partly funded by India. Nuristan ’s leaders, who complain repeatedly of limited air transport links, have welcomed the news. According to Wadsam, the National Solidarity Program (NSP) has implemented 2,000 welfare projects at a cost of USD 2 billion in Baghlan province. implemented in remote areas where the population did not have access to basic facilities, include construction of roads, water wells, irrigation system, embankments, clinics, schools, and women vocational training centres. Page 5

25 March 2013

Over past twelve years, Afghanistan experienced the fastest growth in human development among South Asian countries, achieving a growth of 3.9 per cent, reports United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Despite achieving the fastest growth rate in the region, Afghanistan’s overall ranking has dropped by three places to 175 out of the 186 cou ntries compared to 2011.

Recent Readings & Resources              “Taliban Talks: Past, Present and Prospects for the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan”, Danish Institute (DIIS), March 2013. “Afghanistan Food Security Outlook Update – March 2013”, FEWSNET, March 2013. “Afghanistan Price Bulletin”, FEWSNET , March 2013. “The World Bank Group in Afghanistan: Country Update”, World Bank, March 2013. “Afghanistan in Transition: Looking Beyond”, World Bank, February 2013. “Gender Equality: Policies and Practices in Afghanistan”, Food Security Cluster, February 2013. “The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security ”, United Nations, 5 March 2013. “Afghanistan Initial Market Price Bulletin”, World Food Programme, 13 March 2013. “Human Development Report 2013”, UNDP, March 2013. “Afghanistan: Humanitarian Assistance Programme”, International Organization for Migration and USAID, 13 March 2013. “Afghanistan: Floods”, International Federation of Red Cross, 22 March 2013. “Water level in basins at 09/03/2013 compared to the average (2002-2012) and 6 day forecast”, IMMAP, March 2013. “Climate Prediction Center’s Central Asia Hazards Outlook For USAID”, FEWS-NET, March 2013.

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