Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Recommended Reads

Recommended Reading – April 2013

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Balkh newspapers struggling to survive
Pajhwok News Agency (Kabul), 30 April 2013
‘The newspaper industry in Balkh province is struggling to survive in the face of security concerns, declining readership and self-censorship. … Qayyum Babak, whose daily Jehan-i-Naw was shut down four years ago, said newspapers began losing their ground with a rapid increase in th number of radio stations and television channels.’ He also cited the affair around the blasphemy case against one of his journalists, Kambakhsh, as a reason.

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
New York Times, 29 April 2013
‘Tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the CIA to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader’, reports the newspaper, ‘the agency’s main goal in providing the cash has been to maintain access to Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the agency’s influence at the presidential palace [but] it is not clear that the United States is getting what it pays for’. … ‘The result, U.S. and Afghan officials said, is that the agency has greased the wheels of the same patronage networks that U.S. diplomats and law enforcement agents have struggled unsuccessfully to dismantle, leaving the government in the grips of what are basically organized crime syndicates. … “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” one U.S. official said, “was the United States.”’ It adds that ‘A number of senior officials on the Afghan National Security Council are also individually on the agency’s payroll’.

Pentagon Claims $757 Million Overbilling by Contractor in Afghanistan
Truth-Out, 27 April 2013
‘The Pentagon allowed a private firm providing food and water to U.S. troops in Afghanistan to overbill taxpayers $757 million and awarded the company no-bid contract extensions worth more than $4 billion over three years, according to the Pentagon’s chief internal watchdog and congressional investigators….’

6 police killed in [Ghazni] insider attack
Pajhwok News Agency (Kabul), 21 April 2013
It seems to be more complicated: It is insider killings involving the ALP, Andar ‘uprising’ forces and the Taleban. Another set-back for this type of organisation.

After Airstrike, Afghan Points to C.I.A. and Secret Militias
New York Times, 18 April 2013
The Afghan presidential spokesman has ‘pulled aside a curtain’ on clandestine, joint CIA operations with the Afghan intelligence, after such an operation ‘left 17 Afghan civilians dead’ on 7 April in Kunar. He said ‘it was a C.I.A. operation using a security structure that was in full service of the C.I.A. and run by the C.I.A.’, with a secret Afghan militias that the agency controls and behaved as if they were ‘responsible to no one.’ (the so-called 0-4 Unit, or Counterterrorist Pursuit Team, around 1,200 man strong). He also said that ‘We are informed five minutes before they are conducting [such] an operation.’ A US military spokesman said, however, a ‘N.D.S. unit’ was involved, and another US official added: ‘The Afghan unit involved in this prolonged firefight with the Taliban was under Afghan government control — rumors of a “rogue” unit or Americans commanding the team reflect internal power struggles in Kabul’

The Stakes for America in the Race to Replace Karzai
Wall Street Journal, 16 March 2013
NOT an article suggesting (as others) that the US should pick a winner, again, but a warning about passivity towards the afghan elections and even skepticism about the ‘consensus (candidate)’ debate in Afghanistan. Suggests to support non-violent parties and independent election watchdogs, forgets FEFA, unfortunately. More marginally: the list of possible candidates is superfluous (and incomplete), and, yes, there are already people who have declared their candidacy.

Afghan electric company struggles to make powerful customers pay
Reuters, 16 April 2013
This report about Breshna Sherkat asks the valid question: ‘How do you collect a $200,000 electricity bill from an Afghan warlord?’, using the example of General Dostum. No way seems to lead there, but one the company’s bosses remains optimistic: ‘If he doesn’t pay, his son will pay.’

Inner-City Pollution in East Afghanistan
IWPR, 15 April 2013
This report does not only look at pollution by Jalalabad’s industrial parks but also at the noise pollution caused by unregistered factories in residential areas where they move to because there is a lack of electricity and security in the industrial zones.

Medieval Afghan Fort Under Threat
IWPR, 11 April 2013
A Gardez-based reporter looks at the damage done to the city’s 990-year old citadel by three decades of conflict and how the Afghan ministry defence does not hand the facility over to the Ministry of Information and Culture, despite a presidential decree.

How does Afghanistan compare to the world’s other conflicts?
Guardian, 12 April 2013
For civilians, Afghanistan is the fourth most dangerous conflict in the world.

U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghan provinces is unfinished work
Los Angeles Times, 6 April 2013
With PRTs leaving, a number of their projects are left behind unfinished, as an example of at least 6 schools in Parwan province shows. ‘The schoolhouse in Charikar may never open because the PRT at the nearby Bagram air base has stopped working in the area, the Afghan builders say they’ve run out of money, and the provincial government lacks the funding to finish construction’, reports LAT’s Shashank Bengali. And bookkeeping also wasn#t too impressive: ‘Only now, after 11 years, are U.S. and Afghan officials compiling a roster of all the PRT projects.

How the Pentagon corrupted Afghanistan
TomDispatch (blog), 2 April 2013
A look back: ‘Washington has vociferously denounced Afghan corruption as a major obstacle to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. This has been widely reported. Only one crucial element is missing from this routine censure: a credible explanation of why American nation-building failed there. No wonder. To do so, the U.S. would have to denounce itself.’

DynCorp’s Afghan Settlement With Army Called a ‘Mugging’
Bloomberg, 2 April 2013
Looking at a DynCorp agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers over building an USD 73 million ANSF facility in Kunduz gone wrong, US Special Inspector Sopco draws a devastating conclusion.