Afghanistan Petraeus Karzai

Afghanistan is a mess, another legacy of Dubya’s presidential blunders. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan is far less developed economically and culturally due to its mountainous terrain. Consequently, the graveyard of empires is far more fractured into tribal entities and clans than Sadaam country, which is not conducive to cooperation among groups seeking parochial advantage. The political dynamic is far more complicated.

Harmid Karzai, tribal lord paramount, or nominal president of Afghanistan’s government, is a deal-maker, not a patriot. The juice to make deals is more important to Karzai and his allies than the rule of law. More importantly, according to Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Karzai “’is not an adequate strategic partner’” and “’continues to shun responsibility for any sovereign burden…’”

Basically, this means that President Karzai is an obstacle to peace in Afghanistan because he is unwilling to unite disparate groups and instead favors his fellow Pashtuns, the Taliban.

Now, the goal in Afghanistan, the metric for success, has become nation-building instead of the original operational objective of expelling al-Queda and destroying the Taliban government. Perhaps this Sisyphean task can be achieved if NATO remains committed for years and funding is sustained.

It is well established that Pakistan serves as a refuge for the Taliban, like Laos and Cambodia did during the Vietnam War. The Ho Chi Minh Trail and its series of commo-liasion stations, which sustained the VC and the NVA in South Vietnam, could not be broken. The situation along the Afghanistan and Pakistan border is different. The movement of fighters and their support can be be disrupted by bringing down the mountains in order to block the trails.

Afghanistan’s stability depends upon the support of the people for the central government. This could be accomplished through the government playing a meaningful role in the lives of citizens which might have the effect of loosening tribal ties and encourage the concept of nationhood.. Empowering women through education and micro-loans can be effective by improving their lives. Women can influence their sons to avoid joining the Taliban. Building infrastructure, schools and clinics, and in particular roads, could improve the image of the Kabul government. Roads connecting the isolated valleys woulds allow farmers to bring their crops to market. Growing poppies for the drug trade can not eliminated but high value crops such as saffron can be introduced.

This series of stories places the Afghanistan War in the context of the world wide war on terrorism and its potential for stability.

Afghan Government Advisor Imagines Two Possible Futures of Afghanistan – Either the Somalia of Asia or the Turkey of the East; Reminds ‘American Friends and… the Beneficiaries of the Cold War of Their Moral Responsibility Toward the Afghan Nation who Facilitated the Demise of Their Ideological Rival, the Communist Bloc’

On October 16, 2010, an Afghan website published an article by a leading Afghan government adviser, examining the stakes involved in the Afghan war and its possible outcomes, and arguing for the U.S. to continue its role in Afghanistan. The article, written Dr. Davood Moradian, a senior adviser to the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan, was published on the Afghan website

In the article, Dr. Moradian warns against “pessimistic narratives” such as conversations in the media about the withdrawal of U.S. troops in July 2011 and peace talks with the Taliban. He stresses that the international community must continue to build a positive narrative about the war in Afghanistan.

The writer warns that the Pakistani intelligence’s role in sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan and the wider region is a “fundamental issue” that needs to be dealt with. Calling for the Pakistani military leaders to be treated like the Qods Brigade of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) [that is, it should be declared a terrorist organization and there should be sanctions against it], he notes: “Pakistan’s military-intelligence agencies are involved in sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan and the region and yet, it is treated as a respected partner by the international community.”

Following are excerpts from the article:[1]

[Afghan] Armed Forces have Earned the Right to Be Proud of Their Achievements and Sacrifices in Afghanistan, Particularly Since President Barack Obama’s Election”

“On the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. soil in September 2001, Afghanistan has reemerged once again as one of the most critical foreign policy issues for the U.S. government, think tanks, and public at large. Sadly, the bad news, particularly in recent weeks and months, [is regarding issues that] have contributed to growing voices in the U.S. and elsewhere of the impossibility of the mission in Afghanistan. We are struggling in the battle of perceptions both in Afghanistan and outside. But as with many other walks of life, the reality is far different from the perception.

“In the case of Afghanistan, in reality, we have made significant progress in many sectors and areas; and certainly our armed forces have earned the right to be proud of their achievements and sacrifices in Afghanistan, particularly since President Barack Obama’s election. Unfortunately in and on Afghanistan, there are far more pessimistic voices than optimistic ones…

“Afghanistan is becoming the U.S.’s longest war and a very expensive undertaking, as well as a very frustrating and tiring conflict for us in Afghanistan. Yet, we are not in a position to answer fundamental questions about the conflict in Afghanistan. Neither in Kabul, nor in Brussels, nor in [Washington,] DC is there a reasonable consensus about the nature of the Afghan conflict or the definition of the end state. Unfortunately, now the growing focus is on ‘when’ this undefined mission should end. In another words, rather than contemplating the ‘why’ and ‘what,’ we are often thinking and working on ‘when’ and on often politically-derived deadlines. The ‘why’ and ‘what’ questions should inform the questions on ‘how’ and ‘when.”‘

“Afghanistan… [is] a Critical Component of the Regions of the South and Central Asia and [Key to] the Transformation of the Islamic World”

“In answering to the question of why the U.S., or for that matter the international community, are in Afghanistan and what are the main drivers of the Afghan conflict, there are a spectrum of answers and views, from an extremely minimalist and reductionist view of anti-terror and anti-Al-Qaeda perspective to a little more significant view of the counter-insurgency (COIN) community to a more realistic advocates of nation-building to the strategic view of regional transformation and global governance.

“The author subscribes to the latter view, which sees Afghanistan as a critical component of the regions of the South and Central Asia and [key to] the transformation of the Islamic world. The anti-terror, the COIN, and/or nation-building perspectives are parts of the bigger picture.

“Prior to making the case for the strategic importance of Afghanistan for the region and the process of transformation of the Islamic world, one is obliged to remind our American friends, and for that matter the beneficiaries of the Cold War, of their moral responsibility towards the Afghan nation who facilitated the demise of their ideological rival, the communist bloc, by paying the heaviest price in blood, suffering, and displacement.

“Painfully, we were left abandoned when the mission was accomplished in the late-1980s to the forces of extremism, criminality, and the region’s meddling. As the Polish foreign minister stated many times, the free world has a moral obligation towards the Afghan people.”

“[Failure in Afghanistan] would Give the International Jihadists Another Global Victory Who Can [then] Proudly Claim Credit for the Defeat of Two ‘Infidel’ Superpowers”

“There can be only two end states for Afghanistan: A secure, prosperous, moderate, and democratic Afghanistan – or metaphorically the Turkey of the East – or secondly, the Somalia of Asia. The remains a distinct possibility with the following consequences: A bloody civil war and the ensuing proxy war of Afghanistan’s neighbors, which will then accelerate the process of territorial disintegration of the country and its
domino effects on Pakistan, Central Asia, China, Iran. and India. It would give the international jihadists another global victory, who can [then] proudly claim credit for the defeat of two ‘infidel’ superpowers [including the USSR] in less than three decades in one place [Afghanistan].

“Very few believe that the international community and the U.S. can afford another Central Africa type of conflict system in the heart of Asia. Unlike the Africa conflict system, our region happens to have three nuclear powers of India, Pakistan, China, and an aspiring one Iran. Unlike the African conflicts, which are mainly ethnicized and local, our region is the home of global jihadist movements and a haven for the drug mafia.

“The consequences of the Somalization of Afghanistan, therefore, will not be confined to our border and even to our immediate neighbors, but it will certainly encapsulate faraway regions of the world. September 11 showed us that such a scenario is not an academic projection or a war game exercise.”

“Pakistan is a Collapsing State with Hundred of Nuclear Weapons and a Growing Radicalized… Population; a Stable Afghanistan will be a Key Asset”

“Another end state is a secure, prosperous, moderate, and democratic Afghanistan, or the Turkey of the East. If one looks at the map of the region, Afghanistan is located in the heart of four important geo-strategic regions: Central Asia, South Asia, China/Far-East, and the Middle East. These four strategic regions present unprecedented natural and human potentials as well as significant security challenges. A stable Afghanistan, therefore, can play an important role in both utilizing the opportunities as well as managing the challenges.

“For example, Pakistan is a collapsing state with hundred of nuclear weapons and a growing radicalized society and population. A stable Afghanistan will be a key asset for the international community to manage a collapsing and radicalized Pakistan.

“On the other hand, China and India’s rising power and status can play a very important role in stabilization of Pakistan and the region’s development. This can only happen by integration of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia, China, and the Middle East via trade, commerce, transit, and energy networks, or the recreating a new version of the Silk Route. Regional cooperation in the fields of trade, transit, transportation, and other economic activities needs a stable Afghanistan.

“A stable Afghanistan can also play an important role in protecting Central Asian states from an expansionist Russia, by linking these states with the South Asia and the Middle East security and trade structures. In short, Afghanistan is as important and strategic as the Strait of Malacca in South East Asia.”

“We are Not Asking for a New Status, Or a Jeffersonian Democracy, but a New and Updated Version of Our Historical and Geo-Strategic Status and Position”

“Another important role of Afghanistan is its place in the ongoing transformation of the Islamic World. The Islamic nations have not been fully accommodated or integrated into the global system. Many in the Islamic world are struggling to make sense of their relations with modernity, globalization and the Western world. Unfortunately, the U.S. has few bridges with the Islamic world. A stable and moderate Afghanistan is the natural bridge between the two worlds, and a member of the alliance of moderation in the Islamic world alongside Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bosnia, and Tunis.

“Alongside Iran, the Afghan society is progressively transforming towards a secular and moderate society mainly as a backlash against the theocratic experiences of mujahideen and the Taliban, unlike places such as Pakistan, Central Asia, and Egypt, where we see the gradual Islamization of societies in response to bitter authoritarian and failed secular regimes.

“The view of Afghanistan as the Turkey of the East contradicts conventional and popular views of the country. Many of us characterize and know Afghanistan as the graveyard of empires, or in the words of UK Defense Secretary a ‘broken 13th-century,’ xenophobic and tribal society. Although for many Afghans, it can be glorifying to see their country as the graveyard of the empires, but for the students of history, it is a myth and fiction that has been shaped by uniformed reading of history. A part from a handful of adventures, the territory that is known as Afghanistan has always been either a center or part of various empires.

“One good example is the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom that was established after Alexander the Great’s adventure to Asia. It was the first ever model of the East-West co-existence and inter-action. Our vision for Afghanistan as a crossroads and a bridge is derived not only from our geography but also from our history and culture. So, we are not asking for a new status, or a Jeffersonian Democracy but a new and updated version of our historical and geo-strategic status and position. Furthermore, our demographic feature is another driver for a new Afghanistan. Nearly 2/3 of our population is below the age of 30 and mainly disconnected and alien from their parents’ past experiences and expectations…”

“Either a Hasty Disengagement or an Honorable Exit will Accelerate the Process of Somalization [of Afghanistan]“

“The United States holds the key in either the Somalization of Afghanistan or the revival of the Silk Route, where Afghanistan will have a strategic place and role to play. Either a hasty disengagement or an honorable exit will accelerate the process of Somalization. On the other hand, the U.S.’s long-term and comprehensive engagement with Afghanistan will ensure and push forward the revival of the silk Route. Such an engagement need not be solely military or expensive. It needs to be a smart and a principled one.

“The U.S.’s soft power and its rich non-governmental sectors and resources such as universities and foundations need to be further utilized, alongside mobilizing domestic and regional resources. Fortunately, and despite growing frustration and impatience, the goodwill of the Afghan people and absolute commitment of the Afghan government for a strategic partnership with the U.S. remain strong and solid.

“As with all nations, the United States is known to possess certain characteristics as well as some hubris. The idealistic can-do-spirit and the eternal optimism of the U.S.’ natural and national characteristics have achieved impossible tasks and missions, such as Germany, Japan, South Korea, defeat of communism [during the Cold War], or the election of President Obama.

“If the U.S. remains committed to these values, Afghanistan will join the list of U.S.’s achievements of challenging tasks. But if it fails to resist its impatience tendency needless to say what will happen. We all should remind ourselves of President [Ronald] Reagan’s characterization of this great nation, when he said, ‘America is too great for small dreams.”

“Pakistani Generals Must be… Treated Like Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary [Guards] Corps Quds Commanders; If Not, There will Not be Any Prospect for Success in Afghanistan”

“Another fundamental issue is the role of Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment. Based on the most liberal definition of terrorism, and all open source information, the Pakistani military-intelligence agencies are involved in sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan and the region, and yet it is treated as a respected partner by the international community.

“As Dr. [Rangin Dadfar] Spanta, Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser, characterized Pakistani’s army, ‘It is the main aggressor of the Afghan conflict,’ and thus responsible for the killing of hundreds of the U.S., Afghan, and the coalition soldiers.

“At the very least, Pakistani generals must be viewed and treated like Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary [Guards] Corps Qods Brigade. If not, there will not be any prospect for success in Afghanistan.”

“[T]he Prevailing Corruption and Nepotism in Our State Institutions… Needs to be Forcefully Confronted by the Afghan Government”

“The issue of governance and corruption is another important priority to our joint mission. We are really grateful for the Obama administration to recognize corruption as a fundamental issue. For a number of years, this discourse was almost absent from the list of our priorities. However, a successful anti-corruption drive can only pay dividend when in it is contextualized, de-politicized, and institutionalized in realities and institutions of Afghanistan.

“The New York Times editorial board’s crusade against the Afghan corruption is not the most effective way to this end.

“This issue can also be seen from rather a controversial perspective. We are faced with three insurgencies in Afghanistan, or three Shuras [decision-making centers]: the ISI-directed Quetta Shura, the Kabul Shura, and the Washington Shura. Unfortunately, there is no agreement about the role and the proportion of responsibility of each Shura.[2]

“The Kabul Shura is the prevailing corruption and nepotism in our state institutions, which needs to be forcefully confronted by the Afghan government. Lack of strategic patience, short-termism, politicization of governance, public demonizing of Afghan state institutions, failure to explain adequately the mission to the American people, and appeasement of Pakistan’s military-intelligence are the main sins and vices of the Washington Shura…”

“[P]essimistic Narratives Such as July 2011 Withdrawal… Corruption, Civilian Casualty and Peace with the Taliban have Generated… Pessimism in Afghanistan and Elsewhere”

“In light of growing uncertainty and pessimism, there is an urgent need for (re)articulating a new constructive mega narrative for Afghanistan. Unfortunately, existing destructive and pessimistic narratives such as the July 2011 withdrawal, transition, corruption, civilian casualties, and peace with the Taliban have generated significant amount of negative energy and pessimism in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“Only by articulating a positive mega-narrative, we can prevail in the battle of perceptions and ensuing success on the ground.

“The outcomes of the two end states for Afghanistan have well been articulated by the following observation by a student of the Kabul University: “‘If the world exports us terrorists, we will send them back more committed and ruthless terrorists as well as with dozen kilograms of hashish and opium. But if the world helps us, we will export new generation of Zoroaster, Maulana Jalal Din Balkhi [poet Rumi], Avicenna, [Islamic reformer] Jamaluddin Afghani, [Gandhian Afghan leader] Padshah Khan, and juicy Kandahari pomegranates and premium Herati saffron.”‘

[1], October 16, 2010. The text of the article has been lightly edited for clarity.
[2] The reference to Quetta Shura means the executive council of the Taliban run by the ISI, or Inter-Services Intelligence of the Pakistani military.

Karzai wants U.S. to reduce military operations in Afghanistan

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, November 14, 2010; 12:52 AM

KABUL- said on Saturday that the United States must reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in Afghanistan and end the increased U.S. Special Operations forces night raids that aggravate Afghans and could exacerbate the Taliban insurgency.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Karzai said that he wanted American troops off the roads and out of Afghan homes and that the long-term presence of so many foreign soldiers would only worsen the war. His comments placed him at odds with U.S. commander Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has made capture-and-kill missions a central component of his counterinsurgency strategy, and who claims the 30,000 new troops have made substantial progress in beating back the insurgency.

“The time has come to reduce military operations,” Karzai said. “The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan . . . to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life.”

Karzai’s comments come as American officials are playing down the importance of July 2011 – the date President Obama set to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan – in favor of a combat mission ending in 2014. The Afghan president has placed himself squarely in favor of a lighter military footprint as the administration reviews the progress of the Afghan war and debate intensifies about the pace of the withdrawal. Karzai says his troops are ready to take more responsibility for their own security.

In an hour-long interview with Post reporters and editors in his office in Kabul, Karzai said he was speaking out not to criticize the United States but in the belief that candor could improve what he called a “grudging” relationship between the countries. He described his own deep skepticism with American policy in Afghanistan – from last year’s presidential election, which he said was manipulated by U.S. officials, to his conviction that government corruption has been caused by billions of American dollars funneled to unaccountable contractors. And he said Afghans have lost patience with the presence of American soldiers in their homes and armored vehicles on their roads.

Karzai has long been publicly critical of civilian casualties at the hands of U.S. and NATO troops and has repeatedly called for curtailing night raids into Afghan homes. Under Petraeus and his predecessor, such raids by U.S. Special Operations troops have increased sharply, to about 200 a month, or six times the number being carried out 18 months ago, said a senior NATO military official, who requested anonymity so that he could speak candidly about the situation. These operations capture or kill their target 50 to 60 percent of the time, the official said.

To American commanders, the nighttime strike missions are a crucial weapon to capture Taliban commanders, disrupt bomb-making networks and weaken the 30,000-man insurgency in Afghanistan. In the past three months, U.S. Special Operations troops have killed or captured 368 insurgent leaders. On each mission, Afghan commandos accompany U.S. troops and Afghan officers work with the Special Operations command at Bagram Airfield to choose targets, military officials said.

“We understand President Karzai’s concerns, but we would not be as far along as we are pressuring the network had it not been for these very precision operations we do at night,” the NATO military official said. “I don’t see any near-term alternative to this kind of operation.”

But Karzai was emphatic that U.S. troops must cease such operations, which he said violate the sanctity of Afghan homes and incite more people to join the insurgency. A senior Afghan official said that Karzai has repeatedly criticized the raids in meetings with Petraeus and that he is seeking veto power over the operations. The Afghan government does not have the type of legal arrangement that the Iraqi government has with U.S. forces to approve particular military operations.

“The raids are a problem always. They were a problem then, they are a problem now. They have to go away,” Karzai said. “The Afghan people don’t like these raids, if there is any raid it has to be done by the Afghan government within the Afghan laws. This is a continuing disagreement between us.”

Karzai, who said during his inaugural speech last year that he would like to have full Afghan security control by 2014, said that the U.S. military “should and could” draw down its forces next year. He acknowledged that an abrupt withdrawal would be dangerous, but said that

American soldiers should confine themselves more to their bases and limit themselves to necessary operations along the Pakistani border. He said he wanted the U.S. government to apply more pressure on Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan while focusing on development projects and civilian assistance in Afghanistan.

Although he did not say how many U.S. troops he would prefer in Afghanistan, Karzai said that at current levels “you cannot sustain that.” There are about 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“It’s not desirable for the Afghan people either to have 100,000 or more foreign troops going around the country endlessly,” he said.

Petraeus warns Afghans about Karzai’s criticism of U.S. war strategy

By Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, November 15, 2010; 12:24 AM

KABUL – Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, warned Afghan officials Sunday that President Hamid Karzai’s latest public criticism of U.S. strategy threatens to seriously undermine progress in the war and risks making Petraeus’s own position “untenable,” according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Officials said Petraeus expressed “astonishment and disappointment” with Karzai’s call, in a Saturday interview with The Washington Post, to “reduce military operations” and end U.S. Special Operations raids in southern Afghanistan that coalition officials said have killed or captured hundreds of Taliban commanders in recent months.

The night raids are at the heart of Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy and are key to his hopes of being able to show significant progress when the White House reviews the situation in Afghanistan next month.

Officials discounted early reports Sunday that Petraeus had threatened to resign. But “for [Karzai] to go this way, and at that particular stage, is really undermining [Petraeus's] endeavors,” one foreign diplomat in Kabul said. “Not only his personally, but the international community.” Several officials in Washington and Kabul requested anonymity in order to discus the issue.

Exclusive: Afghanistan – behind enemy lines
James Fergusson returns after three years to Chak, just 40 miles from Kabul, to find the Taliban’s grip is far stronger than the West will admit

Sunday, 14 November 2010

…Their greatest concern is the risk of betrayal by “spies”. That night, indeed, three strangers are arrested further up the valley after they were allegedly spotted taking pictures on their mobile phones. At 6am, after consulting by phone with Taliban headquarters in Pakistan, Abdullah announces that they will be tried by the local sharia judge – an official appointed, like him, by HQ – and that the three can expect to be hanged if found guilty. I ask if he has identified any enemies in Chak using data from Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks website, which he knows all about. “Not yet, because there are no computers here,” he replies, “but headquarters is still analyzing the material… We have already learned a great deal, in general, about the way Isaf operates.”

The atmosphere in Chak, perhaps unsurprisingly, feels oppressive and a little paranoid. No Western journalist has been to see these Taliban since my last visit, and they are careful not to advertise my presence unnecessarily now, insisting that I swathe my face in a woollen patou when we go outside. The community, self-contained even in normal times, has been cut off from the rest of the country for three years. The confusing maze of dirt tracks at the valley’s entrance is frequently seeded with IEDs which travellers must deactivate and reactivate by punching a code into a mobile phone. The only way in for invaders is by helicopter, therefore – and since the summer, US special forces have launched airborne kill or capture raids in the district “almost every night”. Sentries posted on mountaintops all around remain on permanent lookout for unusual helicopter activity: often the first sign of another night raid, and a signal for the Taliban to take to the hills themselves.

The effect of these night raids on Abdullah’s command structure has been negligible, but the same cannot be said for the effect on public opinion. Dozens of blameless locals have allegedly been killed by “the Americans”. Abdullah reels off a list of fatal incidents in the last two months alone – a taxi-driver here, a farmer asleep in his orchard there, three students trying to get home to their families over there – and it is clear that these attacks have done nothing but bolster support for the insurgents. “Thousands of people turn out at the funerals of our martyrs and chant ‘Death to America’,” one Talib tells me. This may be an exaggeration, but there is no arguing with what has happened at the bomb-shattered farmer’s house that I am later taken to see. The apple tree outside is freshly festooned with strips of green cloth – the mark of a spontaneous local shrine.

Abdullah and his men seem to thrive under the threat of sudden death, as though infected by a kind of joie de guerre. He says it is the ambition of all of them to die as ghazi – that is, as martyrs, in battle against the infidel. “It is our religious duty to resist you foreigners,” he tells me – just as he did in 2007. “You must understand that we will never stop fighting you – never.”

The prospect of a negotiated peace is dismissed almost outright. “All this talk of a political settlement with Karzai… it is all tricks and propaganda,” he says. “The Taliban will not negotiate with anyone until all foreign troops have left.” His men are genuinely perplexed by General Petraeus’s assertion that Nato’s purpose in Afghanistan is to prevent the re-establishment of al-Qa’ida. “There were some foreign fighters in Chak for a while last year,” Mullah Naim recalls, “Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis. But they were fighting under the Taliban, obeying our orders. They were nothing to do with al-Qa’ida. There are no al-Qa’ida fighters in Afghanistan any more. I have fought in the south and in the east as well as here. In seven years of operations I have not seen a single al-Qa’ida fighter. Not one.”–behind-enemy-lines-2133667.html

Factory, coal mine show connections matter most in Afghan business

By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

…The coal dug here fires Afghanistan’s only working cement factory, a strategic industrial asset 150 miles north of Kabul that should be supplying building material for much of the country, generating cash and jobs and improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

Instead, the Ghori Cement Factory and the nearby Karkar Coal Mine have become symbols of the corruption, nepotism and mismanagement that pervade President Hamid Karzai’s government, hobble the U.S. effort to rebuild Afghanistan, and fuel the Taliban-led insurgency that now threatens both sites.

“The factory was handed over to people who are a mafia,” Baghlan Governor Abdul Majid, a Karzai appointee, told McClatchy in an interview in Pul-I-Khumri, the provincial capital, last month.

The powerful businessmen who control the cement plant, Karkar and three nearby mines, never had the financing to run the venture, but their close relatives are two of the country’s most powerful men.

, the CEO of the Afghan Investment Company, which runs the enterprises, is the brother of the president, and Abdul Hussain Fahim, the AIC vice-chairman, is the brother of the former defense minister, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, now the first vice president.

Read more:

Despite Gains, Night Raids Split U.S. and Karzai

About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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