“Government corruption and weak rule of law could undermine success of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, a risk both President Obama and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen underscored during their visits there this week.
The pressure from the administration comes about 50 days after beginning its last major offensive in Marjah, where the U.S. and allies are trying to build a new local government answerable to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. It also comes roughly two months ahead of its next offensive in Kandahar, where Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, heads the provincial council and reportedly is linked to the illicit opium trade. A senior U.S. military official warned that he could become a target if found assisting insurgents, according to Reuters.
“We will be unable to succeed in Kandahar if we cannot eliminate a vast majority of corruption there and set up a legitimate governance structure,” Mullen told reporters Tuesday.
Kandahar is the second-largest city in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace.
The U.S. strategy calls for a credible Afghan government that has the support of Afghans and is capable of administering the country after U.S. and NATO forces begin leaving July 2011. Yet an ABC/ARD/BBC poll conducted in December 2009 shows that 95 percent of Afghans surveyed said official corruption is a problem in their area, and 83 percent call it a problem in the national government in Kabul.
In 2009, Afghanistan ranked as second-most-corrupt country in the world, after Somalia, according to Transparency International’s 2009 corruption perception index…."
2010-04-02 18:43:46 UTC