Afghanistan Update 20161214 – Recent news, reports, analysis, commentary, papers and publications on security, legalizing opium in Afghanistan, Visas for Afghan interpreters, development, governance, Pakistan, Iran, Albanian armed forces, Dostum, corruption and more.
National Corruption Report 2016. Integrity Watch Afghanistan has released its annual corruption report. The report estimated that over $3 billion were paid in bribes in the last year. This is an almost 50% increase compared to 2014. “Following insecurity and unemployment, corruption is the biggest problem that the Afghans face. The survey also shows that corruption is having a negative effect on Afghanistan’s security.” Read National Corruption Survey 2016: Afghan Perceptions and Experiences of Corruption, December 8, 2016.
On Dealing with Corrupt Afghan Military and Police. Jason Dempsey served a few tours in Afghanistan and witnessed Afghan corruption in the army and police close up. He raises some interesting questions on what the U.S. military should do about this persistent issue that hampers the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces and reduces the legitimacy of the Afghan government. Read “Elephants in Afghanistan: The military’s counterinsurgency failure”, War on the Rocks, December 1, 2016.
Counter Pakistan by Getting Friendly with Iran? As most South Asian observers know Pakistan is deeply involved in the support of various terrorist and insurgent groups that operate in Afghanistan. One critic, Christine Fair, believes we should strengthen our ties with Iran to offset the influence of Pakistan. Read more in “U.S.-Afghan policy must be secure from Pakistan’s efforts to destabilize Kabul“, Business Standard, December 11, 2016.
New Pakistan Intel Chief. LtGen Naveed Mukhtar will be appointed as the new chief for Pakistan’s military spy agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Mukhtar studied at the U.S. Army War College a few years back where he wrote a paper entitled Afghanistan – Alternative Futures and Their Implications (USAWC Class of 2011). Read more in “New ISI chief for ‘aggressive measures’ against India in Afghanistan”, HindustanTimes, Dec 13, 2016. Read also “Pakistan Gets a New Intelligence Chief”, The Diplomat, December 13, 2016.
First Vice President Dostum. Still out there on his own operating as a free radical! It appears that Dostum abducted and held hostage a local politician in northern Afghanistan for a few days because . . . well, I guess because he didn’t like him and he could. Read more in “Western governments call for investigation of Afghan vice president”, Reuters, December 13, 2016.
VISA Program for Afghan Interpreters. Congress passes a half-hearted effort to revive the Visa program for Afghan interpreters who served alongside U.S military members in Afghanistan. Read “Visa Program for Afghan Translators Is Renewed, With New Restrictions”, The New York Times, December 8, 2016.
Legalize Opium in Afghanistan? A professor of economics at the University of Tampa thinks the U.S. needs to have a change in policy in regards to stopping opium production in Afghanistan. Read “Want to Hurt the Taliban? Legalize Opium in Afghanistan”, Defense One, December 10, 2016.
1,000 Afghan Schools Closed. About 3.5 million children in Afghanistan are out of school – 75% of them girls – not just because of insecurity and violence but also because of social restrictions, early marriage, and a lack of female teachers. Read more in “1000 schools in Afghanistan closed as Taliban strike at education”, Their World, November 30, 2016.
Albanian Armed Forces Deploy to Herat. A contingent of infantry from the country of Albania is now in western Afghanistan under the command of the Italians at Train Advise Assist Command – West (TAAC-W). They will take part in the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) for the next six months. Read more in a news report dated 10 Dec 2016.