Daily Archives: August 10, 2011

Afghanistan: the army knot, the rule of law

The global community has failed to create a politically stable and economically viable Afghanistan despite pouring billions of dollars into the South Asian nation during a decade-long war against the Taliban, says the International Crisis Group.  The Brussels-based think tank said the United States and its allies still lacked a coherent policy to strengthen Afghanistan ahead of a planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops from the unpopular war by the end of 2014.

“Despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security,” it said in a report released this week.  Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001, with high levels of foreign troop deaths, and record civilian casualties during the first six months of 2011.  Afghanistan relies on foreign aid for around 90 percent of its spending, but many international donors are reluctant to channel aid through the country’s ministries because of a lack of capacity and rampant corruption.  Public sector corruption is seen as worse than in any other country except Somalia, and equal to Myanmar, according to Transparency International. President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged graft exists in his government but says foreigners are also to blame.

“The impact of international assistance will remain limited unless donors, particularly the largest, the U.S., stop subordinating programing to counter-insurgency objectives, devise better mechanisms to monitor implementation, adequately address corruption and wastage of aid funds,” said the International Crisis Group (ICG).

About $29 billion of that had been spent on the Afghan police and army, which “have thus far proved unable to enforce the law, counter the insurgency or even secure the seven regions” recently handed over to them, the report found.  “There is no possibility that any amount of international assistance to the Afghan National Security Forces will stabilize the country in the next three years unless there are significant changes in international strategies, priorities and programs,” it said.

By Michelle Nichols, World fails Afghanistan despite spending billions, Reuters, Aug 6 2011