By: Amin Wahidi
Twenty years after the milestone of its new era, Afghanistan seems to return almost to the same point where it was two decades ago when the Taliban regime ruled over more than 90% of this territory with their horrifying presence; the zero point. Things won’t change for better unless the International Community including the United States and NATO member states change their policies about who they should support hereafter in Afghanistan and how.
After Taliban regime’s overthrow by the International Coalition Forces in 2001, Afghanistan has been an ally to the USA and the NATO member states. This relationship, despite its ups and downs has continued until today but the never-ending war in Afghanistan is now becoming a pain-in-neck for the United States as the longest and the most expensive American war in overseas.
The United States still continues its financial and military aid to Afghanistan in spite of Afghanistan’s failure to defeat terrorists. Mega-embezzlements of billions of dollars by the senior Afghan military and civilian officials as a result of tremendous corruption in this country, turned the USA’s war in Afghanistan into an embarrassing failure; a reason that brought USA’s disinterest to continue the war, thus the US troops’ pull-out option at any moment is on the desk of the decision makers.
The invention of Ghost Schools (nonexistent schools, paid for with US foreign aid), Ghost Hospitals (nonexistent funded hospitals) and Ghost Soldiers (nonexistent paid soldiers) by former and actual Afghan senior officials all led the democratizations process into a failure, but none of the culprits (who are well known) are being trialed or taken to justice; they are related to the Afghan elite families including the former and actual presidents.
As one of the costliest war in the world, the war in Afghanistan has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians but today the terrorist Taliban are more powerful than before and they control more than 65 % of the Afghan territories and they get closer to the cities day after day.
When the US and European taxpayers question their political leaders, how their tax contributions are spent during the last two decades in Afghanistan without any good results, the answer they receive is not satisfying because reports and statistics show that their money to Afghanistan is spent with at most 45 percent of efficiency and the rest 55 percent is blown up in the air in the corruption mists.
The corrupt Afghan administration doesn’t feel to be accountable for the embezzlements of billions of US dollars its senior officials and even the President Ghani himself and his Lebanese first lady are involved in.
Obviously the US and European taxpayers do not want to contribute their tax-money in a country that is run as an ethnocentric-tribal sultanate by only a bunch of corrupt people, where democracy does not exist meanwhile hundreds of millions of dollars are namely spent for democracy projects, the voice of citizens are shut up and a lot of people including women, ethnic and religious minorities are suppressed by their own (Afghan) government and a systematic ethnic cleansing takes place under the sunlight by Afghan Military Forces and nobody is questioned for crimes against humanity.
The insufficiency of the Afghan Governments is also related to the hiring systems of senior positions that is rather like a family business based on tribal oriented models.
In military bases, commanders of the Afghan National Army (ANA) sell their arms and military equipments to the Taliban terrorists or they make ethnic deals with the Taliban.
On the other hands, in the civilian positions, these namely technocrats, mostly returned from European countries or the USA have proved to fail repeatedly; they neither have deep understanding of the country nor any popularity among the people. The only privilege they have is their ethnicity and tribal relationship with the President and his team. Most of them come to Afghanistan to occupy well-paid jobs, while with their qualifications, they are never able to find jobs in their second countries. When they collect enough wealth in Afghanistan and their binge-mission is completed, they escape to their second country which are used as their fiscal sanctuaries.
The examples are Eklil Hakimi (former Minister of Finance) accused of millions of ATRA (tax on mobile credits) Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani (former president of Electoral Commission in Afghanistan) who deceived the US officials in fraudulent ways regarding social assistances. Farooq Wardak ( a former Minister of Education) another big master of mega-embezzlements of school funds accused at least 750,000.000 USD$ embezzlement in creating Ghost Schools in Afghanistan, or Fazel Mahmood Fazli, another senior official in the Afghan Government, who had three well-paid jobs in the Afghan Presidential Palace but also deceived the Swedish tax authorities. These people are well known for their corruption, but none of them are taken responsible, instead they were given higher and better positions in the government as rewards.
In the times when good allies are hard to find in the region and the corrupt leaders of Afghanistan as an ally country weaken their position by their defeat against terrorists, it’s time for the International Community, especially the United States of America to rethink and to see the reality of Afghanistan through new lenses; it’s time to refer to the people of Afghanistan instead of supporting and nurturing only some dozens of corrupt people who took the country into a failure.
With all this bad news, there is still an alternative decision to be made by Afghanistan’s International Allies that could change this country into a better place for its citizens and for the whole world as a result.
There is another way the new US administration can change the formula and compensate the errors its precedents have repeatedly made in the last two decades in Afghanistan without gaining good results; refer to the people of Afghanistan.
In a multiethnic Afghanistan, there are different progressive communities that support global values but they need international support to have a better country for them. Some of them have emerged in the forms of Popular Resistance Forces that are formed to defend civilians and support the Afghan Government Forces as well but not only; they help civilians with schooling, they provide civilians with medical needs and rebuild roads and public facilities through community volunteering works and sharing their little common resources.
Like in Kurdistan, among these Resistance groups of the Central Highlands of Afghanistan, the presence of women is very bold and they see the prosperity of their society in both men and women’s active participation in useful social works in making of a better society.
With this sign of hope, perhaps it is time for the decision makers in United States of America to allocate at least 50 % of its Military aid to Afghanistan, to the Local Resistance Forces like Resistance For Justice Movement that believe in global human values and protect civilians from the terrorists.
They know how to defend their country against terrorists and can safeguard their valuable minimum achievements of the last two decades that are gained by the help of the International Community in Afghanistan.
If these democratic communities of Afghanistan get supported by the International Community, their contribution to progress and peace process in a couple of decades could turn Afghanistan into a second South Korea in terms of advancement; a reliable ally for all those countries that value global human values.
A better and safer Afghanistan can make this country a better ally for the USA and other European countries in the continuous global campaign against new forms of terrorism.