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F U S I O N
C E N T R E
Week 35 27 August 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 13 - 26 August 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.
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The ACCI assures sanctions against Iran will not affect bilateral trade. Amu Darya oil extraction project halted due to the lack of transit agreements. President Karzai met with Pakistani PM Sharif to discuss the peace process. Candidates will soon register for the presidential election race. Afghan Second Vice-president visits India for talks about security cooperation. Afghanistan-US security negotiations gained pace with a new negotiation team. Kabul is in the middle of an urban planning crisis due to uncontrolled growth. Afghanistan and Pakistan moves towards a joint management of shared basins.
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he Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) issued a statement assuring the Iranian government that the economic sanctions imposed upon them would not “have any adverse effects” on the trade relations between Afghanistan and Iran , writes Wadsam. This statement comes on the heels of the recent opening of the Chabahar Port in Iran to Afghan exports, which is a key infrastructure in enabling Afghanistan to export products in a quicker and more cost-effective manner than other traditional routes. In other export news, local officials from Farah province stated on 22 August that the current yield from this year’s watermelon harvest (approximately 544,000 tons) is already double that of last year, according to Tolo News. Meanwhile, 250,000 tons, the total yield in 2012, has already been exported to neighbouring provinces and countries. Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation have attributed the increased harvest to a number of factors including “a broader distribution of seeds, favourable weather conditions and successful efforts to curb pest infestation.” The same officials also announced a plan to improve irrigation throughout the country, beginning in Farah province. The new irrigation practice relies on solar-power and should help to augment crop production. The government of Afghanistan announced that negotiations finalising a deal with the Afghan Iron and Steel Consortium (AIFSCO) to implement mining and heavy industry projects were nearing completion, according to Khaama Press. AIFSCO was awarded the rights to three large iron ore mines in November 2011 for an initial planned investment of USD 10.8 billion, which included implementation of mining projects as well as the establishment of a steel plant and requisite supporting infrastructure. However, AIFSCO later decided to scale down the original investment plan by as much as 75 per cent, prompting the Afghan government to enter negotiations to find a workable solution. Following the most recent developments in the proceedings, Wahidullah Shahrani, Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines, stated “AIFSCO has assured us that it will deliver their co mmitment, but that could be done in phases. That is natural with this type of mega projects. Eventually, investment will be between USD 10 and 11 billion. […] However, it will depend on the cost of exploration and fluctuation of the prices of raw material.”
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Officials of the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) stated on 12 August that they will visit a series of countries within the region, including Russia, Turkey, Pakistan and India, in order to pitch investment opportunities in Afghanistan, according to Tolo News. Wafiullah Iftikhar, head of AISA, stated “The trip will start in early September and we will try to get foreign investors to invest in the country, especially in industry, agriculture and also in the housing sector, which is very important.” In related investment news, Wadsam reports that Afghan Second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili travelled to New Delhi for a three-day visit where he met with chiefs of Indian industry to discuss economic aid and investment in Afghanistan. A spokesman for the Afghan embassy in India said, “Afghanistan is now one of the top countries of the world in terms of investments. Indian industry already has much i nvestment there but the vice president is expected to make them aware of the current developments and shed some light on the improved business environment there.” Furthermore, the government of Azerbaijan plans to invest USD 2 billion in Afghanistan, notably in the mining sector, highlights Bakhtar News. Previously, in 2012, Azerbaijani investment and trade in Afghanistan was estimated to be worth approximately USD 12 million. A major oil extraction project has been halted in northern Afghanistan due to the lack of a transit agreement for the extracted product, reports Khaama Press. The project is result of a joint venture between the China National Petroleum Corporation and Afghanistan’s Watan Oil and Gas. The extraction of oil in the Amu Darya basin near the Uzbekistan border began last October but due to the lack of a transit agreement with the Uzbek government, production has now stopped and many Chinese workers have reportedly returned home. Jalil Jumriany, Policy Director at the Ministry of Mines, stated that negotiations are underway for an agreement with the Uzbek government. A number of other economic development issues, which emerged during the past two weeks, are summarised below. Sweden has pledged to increase its development aid to Afghanistan by forty per cent between 2015 and 2019, says Wadsam. The aid, worth approximately USD 615 million, will target job creation and strengthening the private business sector within the country. Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal met with Gul Sherali, the Energy and Industry Minister of Tajikistan, to discuss plans to export natural gas from the Sheberghan basin in Jowzjan province, according to Tolo News. The head of the AISA, Wafiullah Iftikhar, urged Afghan government officials to fulfil their promise to allot 1,500 acres of land in the Kamari area in Kabul for a new industrial park, reports Wadsam. Iftikhar stated that at least USD 1 billion was planned to be invested in the park by both Afghan and foreign entrepreneurs, who would provide direct employment opportunities for 70,000 people. The Central Bank of Afghanistan announcedit will put up USD 60 million for auction on 17 and 20 August, writes Wadsam. This move comes amid efforts to preserve a stable rate of exchange between the afghani and the US dollar. The Central Bank has previously sold millions of US dollars through auctions, which are aimed at attracting the interest of private banks and large-scale currency exchangers.
Governance & Rule of Law
fghan President Hamid Karzai travelled to Pakistan to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the stalled peace process, reports Reuters. During the visit, Karzai urged Pakistan to help facilitate peace negotiations with the Taliban by providing opportunities for contacts between the insurgents and the Afghan High Peace Council. In response, Sharif assured Karzai of Pakistan’s “strong and sincere support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan”, further adding “We fully agreed that this process has to be inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”. However, Barhan Osman of the Afghanistan Analysts Network think -tank observed that the two leaders “were not on the same page” during the meeting, quotes Reuters. Specifically, Osman explains, “One was talking about the peace process as the top issue and one was talking about trade as the top issue…it was not what the Afghans were looking for”. Lastly, according to Osman, it is uncertain whether Sharif wields sufficient influence to convince the Taliban to negotiate with President Karzai. During the visit, President Karzai also requested the release of high-ranking Taliban detainees held in Pakistan who might act as interlocutors in the peace negotiations, adds BBC. In particular, Karzai seeks the release of the Taliban’s second-in-command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar who was detained in Karachi in 2010. The Afghan government has long been demanding the release of all Taliban prisoners, according to The Express Tribune. Although as many as 26 Taliban detainees have been released since November 2012, Pakistan discontinued further releases in the wake of strained relations with Afghanistan. Previously, some of the released Taliban commanders reportedly played a vital role in bringing insurgents to the negotiating table, and establishing the currently closed Taliban office in Qatar, adds the article. According to the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC), candidates interested in running in the April 2014 Afghan presidential election are required to register between 16 September and 06 October, reports The Express Tribune. Although no party has yet formally announced names of presidential nominees, several names of potential contenders have emerged. These include Umer Daudzai, an ethnic Pashtun, who is currently serving as Afghan ambassador to Pakistan. Daudzai’s office coordinator, Mohammad Sangar Amirzada, told an Afghan TV channel that tribal leaders, young Afghans and women activists visited Daudzai in his office to encourage his candidacy in the elections. The second potential candidate is a former Afghan foreign minister and current chief of the National Coalition of Afghanistan party, Abdullah Abdullah, who ran against President Karzai in the 2009 presidential election. Lastly, chief of Islamic Dawah Organisation of Afghanistan, Abdul Rasool Sayyaf, a former Mujahedeen commander, emerged as another 27 August 2013 Page 2
possible candidate. Pajhwok Afghan News reported that President Karzai urged Afghan political parties to support Sayyaf. However, Karzai dismissed allegations about his support for a particular candidate for the next year presidential elections as baseless, with the Afghan presidential palace issuing a statement quoting Karzai as stating “I don’t support any particular runner. It is the ri ght of the people to choose their next president through an independent ballot”. Meanwhile, some political parties have begun forming coalitions in preparation for the presidential election, writes The Express Tribune. According to chairman of the Nation Front of Afghanistan (NFA), Ahmad Zia Massoud, this includes the National Coalition of Afghanistan (NCA), Jamiat-e-Islami, the Islamic United Party of Afghanistan, and the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, several opposition leaders, including Massoud and a leader of the Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, met in Munich to discuss their election plan, potential candidates, the Afghan parliamentary system, decentralisation of the government, the on-going peace process, security situation and the electoral process in Afghanistan, adds Khaama Press. According to the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), the first round of voter registration for the April 2014 presidential election was plagued by fraud, including registration of under-aged Afghans and distribution of multiple voter cards to a single person, writes Khaama Press. According to FEFA Executive Chief Jandad Spinghar, in 21 provinces, more than 4,000 voter cards were issued to individuals under the age of eighteen. Spinghar attributes these violations to the interference of independent election commission (IEC) staff, local officials and other influential individuals. The I EC officials dismissed the FETA’s claims as unfounded but conceded that women in certain regions obtained voter cards without proper scrutiny of their documents. In other election-related news, civil society activists from Afghan central provinces expressed their concern over insufficient participation of women in the election process, reports Pajhwok. According to the activists, the main issues restraining women participation include lack of access to remote areas due to weather constraints, an insufficient number of mobile voter registration centres, and the presence of armed groups discouraging residents from obtaining voter cards. A number of other articles related to governance and rule of law appeared over the past two weeks, including those below: Activists in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat staged protests against what they perceive as Iranian interference in the region, with local Afghan politician Abdul Qadir Kamil accusing Iran of turning its consulate into a site for “spying and corruption” cites Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. According to Kamil, Iranian diplomats collect bribes in exchange for visas and exploit visa-granting to gain influence in Herat. An Iranian Consulate official refused to comment on the accusations. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) selection committee to submit a list of fifteen nominees for ECC membership as soon as possible, reports Tolo News. The European Campaign for Human Rights in Afghanistan (ECHRA) opened its branch in Kabul to provide free legal counselling services to Afghan residents in an effort to facilitate access to their civil rights, writes Afghanistan Times. ECHRA has recently launched a new centre also in Pul-e Khumri in Baghlan province. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed his attorney general, Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, for secretly meeting with the Taliban representatives in Dubai earlier in August against Karzai’s instructions, reports Khaama Press. A number of other senior officials, including high peace council representatives, also attended the meeting. The attorney general ’s office dismissed reports about Aloko’s discharge as baseless.
Security & Force Protection
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fghanistan’s second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili visited India with a high level ministerial delegation on 20 August in order to discuss security related issues as the NATO troop withdrawal draw near, reports Kuwait News Agency. An unnamed government official was quoted as saying, “This visit is going to be mainly focused on enhanced military cooperation”, adding that “the visit is expected to urge the government to help strengthen the Afghan military through an enhanced pact on weaponry, as the country gears up for a transition with the departure of international troops from there in 2014 onwards ”. President Hamid Karzai travelled to India in May 2013, presenting “a military wish list” to the Indian authorities. During the vis it, Indian officials informed the Afghan delegation that India “finds it difficult to supply weapons” to Afghanistan as it is bound by end-user commitments to the suppliers, according to the Indian Express. India also highlighted that it is facing a supply constraint due to a shortage of sophisticated weaponry. On the other hand, Afghan army and police officers are trained in Indian academies and India is planning to supply Afghanistan with vehicles and helicopters. On a related note, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh visited the Indian Consulate General in Jalalabad from 23 to 25 August, which was recently targeted by a terrorist attack, reports Times of India. Undisclosed official sources interpreted the visit, during which she held talks with her Afghan counterpart Ershad Ahmadi, as “conveying a clear message that no terrorist attack can have an impact on India ’s strong determination to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction and development efforts”.
Stalled negotiations between the US and Afghanistan “advanced to a new stage,” the Afghan government said, as President Karzai created a new team of high-profile negotiators, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The new negotiation committee, which was announced by the Afghan Foreign Ministry on 20 August and consists of the president’s national security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadizai and Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul, is expected to accelerate the process toward an agreement. The new team of negotiators will hold talks with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham and the 27 August 2013 Page 3
commander of US and NATO forces General Joseph Dunford in order to define the role, shape and legal status of American forces as well as civilian trainers beyond 2014. According to Asia Times, a recent increase in the activities of militants from Central Asian republics in northern Afghanistan indicates that they intend to take advantage of the security vacuum that may ensue post-2014. Militant groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) have been sighted in northern Afghanistan in recent years and have claimed responsibility for several incidents along with the Taliban. Asia Times also states that the magnitude of recent Taliban attacks in northern Afghanistan shows “an effort to gain a country-wide presence ahead of the drawdown of NATO forces”. Central Asian militants fit into this setting as experienced and trusted allies for the Taliban who have some affinity to Tajik and Uzbek communities in the area, adds Asia Times. These militant groups – each focused on a different country – have an agenda of carrying out future conquests in the Mawarannahr region (north of Amu Darya River – current central Asian republics) and are expected to fund their operations through drug smuggling. Director of the Central Asia Center for Drug Policy in Bishkek Alexander Zelitchenko said, “while NATO troops were operating in areas they needed to cross, they did not dare move openly across the country ” and added that “now they’ve begun to step up their activity within the Central Asia countries and actively recruit jihadi supporters from the local population. That indicates that they have resumed their activities and are preparing for something”. Provincial security chief for Nimroz province Mohammad Kabir Andarabi was arrested by the counter-narcotics police in Kabul airport on 22 August over charges of drug smuggling, informs Khaama Press. Governor of the Province Mohammad Suroor Sebat confirmed the arrest, but did not disclose any further details about whether Andarabi was arrested with drugs in Kabul airport. Illicit drugs have been a major problem for Afghanistan over the past decade, and according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghanistan remained the world’s lead opium producer in 2012 with 74 per cent of the world’s total production of opi um. Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists (CPAJ) registered 41 reports of violence against journalists in the first half of 2013, informs Pajhwok Afghan News. The semi-annual report of CPAJ found that most of the registered cases of violence involved Taliban, illegal armed groups and government officials. CPAJ member Najibullah Sharifi pointed to the “government’s negligence” to protect the freedom of speech as well as security concerns beyond 2014 as the reason behind such incidents. Sharifi called on the government to strengthen the media organisations on the basis that most of them rely on foreign aid and the dry up after 2014 could create challenges for many of them. Two foreign aid workers working for Aga Khan Development Network were abducted by unknown gunmen in Bamian province on 20 August, reports Khaama Press. No groups claimed responsibility for the incident and the preliminary reports suggested that the two abductees were US citizens. However, provincial security chief of Bamian General Abdul Razzaq Ilkhni stated on 23 August that the abducted aid workers were freed by the Afghan security forces and that they were Canadian and Pakistani nationals. Ilkhni also said that a security operation was launched to find the perpetrators. Provincial governors of Ghazni, Kandahar, Wardak and Zabul met on 18 August to discuss improvements to one of the most volatile parts of Afghanistan’s highway system, the Kabul -Kandahar highway, reports Khaama Press. The governors proposed to establish a military unit on the highway as well as increasing the number of Afghan national police security checkpoints on the highway. Meanwhile, local authorities in Herat province reported on the same day that clashes between the security forces and Taliban militants on the Kandahar-Herat highway killed at least 83 people including eleven security forces and 72 militants, reports Khaama Press. Clashes started after the militants ambushed a convoy of the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF). Taliban did not comment on the incident or alleged death of militants. A bomb exploded in Farah province near a vehicle carrying the provincial commander of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Abdul Samada, killing a child and wounding fifteen people including four security personnel, reports Press TV. Samada reportedly survived the attack unharmed. No groups claimed responsibility for the incident. Security officials from Kandahar reported on 22 August that 40 militants were killed, 9 were wounded and another 24 were detained during operations by the Afghan National Army (ANA) in five districts, reports Pajhwok Afghan News. In addition, 78 suspected people were also detained, 162 roadside bombs were defused and a Taliban hideout was destroyed during these operations. Another operation in Kunduz province on the following day resulted in the death of four militants, including a Taliban-designated district chief, while five others were detained, according to Pajhwok.
Social & Strategic Infrastructure
abul is in the midst of an urban planning crisis, according to The Atlantic Cities. With five million inhabitants, Kabul is now estimated to be the fifth fastest-growing city in the world. The last urban development master plan was designed 25 years ago by the Soviets and was aimed to guide the city’s growth from 1978 to 2003. The plan, which expired ten years ago, was d esigned when the city had about a half million residents and projected growth of about three million by 2003. Currently, the city has added extra two million people to the expected figure by 2003. Furthermore, for much of the period covered by the master plan the country has been under continuous conflict, preventing the infrastructure and urban development projects to keep up with the plan. Still today, war is shaping the city as many migrants move to Kabul looking for the relative security and livelihoods opportunities offered by the capital. These arrival patterns result in estimated seventy per cent of the population living in informal settlements, many 27 August 2013 Page 4
of them located in Kabul’s mountainsides with no access by road. These informal settlements are located in government -owned land with residents expecting to be expelled at some point. In May 2013 the new Kabul’s master plan for the next fifteen years was approved. The plan is designed to absorb a growth in population of up to eight million and the transport infrastructure will have a capacity for 800,000 vehicles. Regarding the informal settlements, the master plan considers their relocation to the “New Kabul City” in Deh Sabz area, where more than 250,000 housing units will be created. Pietro Calogero, an urban studies lecturer, says that the municipality seems to deliberately neglect the planning schemes for informal areas and believes that the “New Kabul City” is unrealistic bec ause it is not clear where the water supply will come from. Moreover, Fabrizio Foschini, from the Afghanistan Analyst Network, adds that Deh Sabz is home of many informal dwellers and conflicts are starting to unfold between different claimants to the land. In similar urban development news, residents in Kabul city have called the government to address the proliferation of illegal bore wells, writes Wadsam. Dwellers from Kart-e Sakhi, Asmayee and Tap-e Salam are forced to purchase water because illegal wells have exhausted the water in the wells on household premises. The Department of Water Supply acknowledged the problem and warned that Kabul city would face a water shortage crisis if the problem is not addressed soon. In this regard, the Afghan Ministry of Urban Development announced it will invest USD 3 billion on urban development projects during the next three years, reports Khaama Press. Deputy urban development minister Mohammad Akbar Ahmadi said “We have so far invested $1 billion in urban development this year with the help of the people and private sectors, and we are looking to invest another $3 billion for the next three year s.” In addition to the Kabul master plan, the government is developing other plans for six more cities, including Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Kandahar. Talks on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline are on hold after Pakistan refused to participate in a quadrilateral meeting on 22 August as a result of the increased escalation of violence along the Line of Control, reports Authint Mail. The meeting coincided with the visit to India by representatives of the US State Department and Chevron to discuss issues regarding the TAPI project. Chevron has expressed interest in investing in the TAPI as long as they can develop the gas fields in Turkmenistan. The Express Tribune added that for long time, the US has been pressing Pakistan to go ahead with the TAPI and shelve the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline project in line with sanctions over Iranian alleged nuclear programme. In a recent analysis, Pakistan Today said Islamabad is left with two options, either dropping the IP pipeline project or getting the support of large international stakeholder, such as China. The second option is starting to take shape as China is keen on linking the IP pipeline with the touted 2,000 km-long KashgarGwadar transport corridor. According to the source, the Chinese and Pakistan government will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the Kashgar-Gwadar corridor that some sources say will include the IP gas pipeline. Pakistan Today highlights that for Pakistan, the IP pipeline could be a key project to help overcome energy shortages, estimated at 2.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcdf), by providing 0.7 bcfd. Also, the IP pipeline has lower security risks than the TAPI gas pipeline, which is planned to traverse the most insecure provinces in Afghanistan. According to the article, despite the fact that the Iranian side of the IP pipeline is completed and Iran has provided USD 500 million to finish the construction works, US pressures have been rather successful in deflecting Pakistan from the project. Pakistan can most effectively counter the pressures by involving China in the project, states Pakistan Today. Regarding the TAPI, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have finally reached a sales and purchase agreement, reports Pipeline International. The thirty-year contract states that Afghanistan will purchase 500 million cubic meters annually during the first ten years, one billion cubic meters (bcm) annually during the second decade and 1.5 bcm during the third one. In similar news, Afghanistan and Pakistan are moving towards joint management of shared basins starting with the construction of a 1,500 MW hydropower project on Kunar River, according to Dawn. This step forward was discussed during a meeting in Islamabad, led by Afghan Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal and his Pakistani counterpart, Ishaq Dar. The hydropower project on Kunar River will likely progress towards the Kabul River Basin Management Commission, an institution similar to the Indus Waters Commission between Pakistan and India. Pakistan has repeatedly expressed concerns regarding Indian assistance to Kabul for the development of dams along the Kabul River. In fact, Pakistan has already diverted Chitral River, which contributes to Kabul River, in the event that attempts are made to deprive it of its due share. Taking the Pakistan-India Indus Water Treaty as an example, the United States and the World Bank have been encouraging Afghanistan and Pakistan to develop a joint management bilateral treaty for the shared basins. Furthermore, water and energy officials from Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan held a trilateral meeting in Dushanbe, reports The Frontier Post. During the meeting, the Director of Water Catchment Department of the Iranian Ministry of Energy and the energy ministries of both Afghanistan and Tajikistan emphasised the importance of cooperation in implementing joint energy and water projects. The Sangtoudeh-II power plant, which is being constructed through the joint investment of Iran and Tajikistan, was presented as an example of cooperation. The plant will produce 220 MW and will help to overcome Tajikistan’s energy shortage. As a result of this development, Tajikistan’s minister of energy announced an increase in energy exports to Afghanistan by one billion kWh of electricity in the current year. Finally, Indian General Consul in Herat, Amarjit Singh, announced “Salma Dam will be completed within a year, the dam will start working within a year, and I want to reiterate that the Indian government is committed to t his project,” quotes Wadsam. The Salma Dam is one of the India’s flagship projects in Afghanistan. The construction of the project started in 2006 but was halted in 2010 as a result of the frequent gun battles in the area. In April, eighty per cent of the project, which will provide 42 MW of electricity and irrigation for 75,000 hectares of land, had been completed.
ENGAGE WITH US
27 August 2013
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