Urgent Afghanistan Message: Need $537 Million, Send Money At Once … or This Week

— Domani Spero
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WaPo’s Tim Craig reported today that Afghanistan has nearly run out of money:

Afghanistan’s central government is nearly broke and needs a $537 million bailout from the United States and other international donors within “five or six days” to continue paying its bills, a senior Afghan finance official said Tuesday.
[…]
Officials blame the financial woes on the ongoing stalemate over who won the election to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai.

“We hope they will pay for us, and we are asking at once,” Aqa said of ongoing discussions with the U.S. government and other international donors. “They are asking me when I need it, and I told them this week or we will have a problem.”
[…]
Afghanistan has an annual operating budget of about $7.6 billion, about 65 percent of which comes from international assistance. The current fiscal crunch is a result of a 25 percent shortfall in Afghanistan’s domestic revenue collection from taxes and customs tariffs this year, Aqa said.
[…]
According to the World Bank, Afghanistan will need more than $7 billion annually for the next decade to sustain a functional government, maintain infrastructure and fund the Afghan army and police.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the U.S. government has appropriated $104 billion rebuilding and supporting the Afghan government, military and public services, according to the Office of the Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.

Read the full story here.

SIGAR John F. Sopko is quoted in the report saying, “The bottom line: It appears we’ve created a government that the Afghans simply cannot afford.”

Zing! We hope they won’t let him go from that job because he said something real and true.

Now, our question is why is the finance minister doing the asking? Why is the Afghan leader, who called Americans “occupiers” is not the one doing the asking for pocket change here?

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John Kerry in Kabul: Brokering an Election Dispute Agreement in Photos

— Domani Spero
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

Via NYT:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Secretary of State John Kerry spent a second day here in the Afghan capital on Saturday shuttling between the top two presidential contenders and the presidential palace in an effort to forge an agreement on how to audit recent elections and preventAfghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power from collapsing.

The two candidates, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, spent the day inside the United States Embassy building holding separate meetings with Mr. Kerry, according to campaign officials. Mr. Kerry then traveled to the palace to talk to President Hamid Karzai. Talks were continuing into early evening without food or drink because of Ramadan, for which Muslims fast during the day. Mr. Kerry complained, jokingly, to Mr. Karzai that his embassy had “starved” him, according to pool reports.

Here are some photos from his latest Kabul trip to broker an election dispute agreement between Abdullah and Ghani.

Stand Together

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appears before reporters with Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah on July 11, 2014, after he arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan for a meeting about steps to resolve the country’s disputed presidential election between him and fellow candidate Ashraf Ghani. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stands with Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani as he addresses reporters on July 11, 2014, after Ghani arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan for a meeting about steps to resolve the country’s disputed presidential election between him and fellow candidate Abdullah Abdullah. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Shake-hands

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Resolve this or no more aid

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Embrace of Rivals

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Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani, left, prepares to embrace rival Abdullah Abdullah, right, at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 12, 2014, after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helped broker an agreement on a technical and political plan to resolve the disputed outcome of the election between them. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Harder than it looks

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah, left, and Ashraf Ghani, right, at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 12, 2014, after he helped broker an agreement on a technical and political plan to resolve the disputed outcome of the election between them. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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Photo of the Day: President Karzai Awards Afghanistan State Medal to US Ambassador Crocker

On July 16, President Karzai awarded Ambassador Ryan Crocker “the Allama Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan prestigious state medal for strengthening the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan.”

Photo by ARG via US Embassy Kabul/FB

Here is the official statement from the presidential palace:

July 16, 2012- President Hamid Karzai awarded, in line with Item 19, Article 64  of Afghanistan Constitution, the “Allama Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan prestigious state medal” to Ryan Crocker, outgoing US Ambassador in appreciation of the praiseworthy services he has delivered in further strengthening Afghan-US relations and for accurately introducing Afghanistan to the people of America and the international community.

The special ceremony held on Monday to this end was attended by Dr. Zalmai Rasul Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Spanta National Security Advisor to the President and Abdul Karim Khuram Presidential Chief of Staff.

Ryan Crocker, whose diplomatic mission currently ended, has served as US Ambassador to Afghanistan from July, 2011 till now.

The palace statement did not say who is Allama Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan for which this state medal is named after.  As best we could tell, this is Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani also listed in the Wikipedia entry as “Jamal-al-Din al-Afghani” a political activist and Islamic ideologist born in 1838.  The Afghan Wiki has the following entry:

Al-Afghani is often described as one of the most prominent Islamic political leaders and philosophers of the nineteenth century. He was concerned with the subjection of the Muslim world by Western colonial powers, and he made the liberation, independence and unity of the Islamic world one of the major aims of his life. He provided a theoretical explanation for the relative decline of the Islamic world, and a philosophical theory of history which sought to establish a form of modernism appropriate to Islam.

Click here to read more.  Apparently in the 1880s, “Jamaluddin while in London encouraged the British to declare war on Tsarist Russia, and to get a Muslim Jehad in favor of the British, When he failed to achieve this aim, in 1887 he asked the same thing from Tsarist Russia to declare war on the British. Afghani knew well, since, Muslims and Asians cannot, match the military and economic power of Europeans, he wanted to get the support of the British or Tsarist Russia in order to fight the colonial powers.”

How come that sounds familiar …

Domani Spero

Clinton Makes Pit Stop in Kabul En Route to Tokyo, Declares Afghanistan New MNNA

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan during on an unannounced visit to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai ahead of the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

Additional footage here during her stop at the Kabul International Airport.

During the visit, she also announced the designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA).  President Obama signed the MNNA designation for Afghanistan on July 6.  Afghanistan is the first country to be designated an MNNA since 2004.

According to the embassy statement “MNNA qualifies a country for certain privileges supporting defense and security cooperation but does not entail any security commitment to that country. Some of the privileges of MNNA status include eligibility for training, loans of equipment for cooperative research and development, and ultimately Foreign Military Financing for commercial leasing of certain defense articles.”

The following Presidential Determinations designated the countries listed as major non-NATO allies of the United States for purposes of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) and the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.):
Determination No. 97–4, Nov. 12, 1996, 61 F.R. 59809.—Jordan.
Determination No. 98–9, Jan. 6, 1998, 63 F.R. 3635.—Argentina.
Determination No. 2002–10, Mar. 14, 2002, 67 F.R. 13247.—Bahrain.
Determination No. 2004–02, Oct. 6, 2003, 68 F.R. 59855.—Philippines.
Determination No. 2004–16, Dec. 30, 2003, 69 F.R. 2053.—Thailand.
Determination No. 2004–21, Jan. 15, 2004, 69 F.R. 4843.—Kuwait.
Determination No. 2004–35, June 3, 2004, 69 F.R. 34049.—Morocco.
Determination No. 2004–37, June 16, 2004, 69 F.R. 38797.—Pakistan.

Could not find the citations for this but five countries were apparently declared MNNA by President Bush I in 1989: Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, and South Korea.  New Zealand was added to the list in 1997 by President Clinton. So Afghanistan is the 15th member of this very small club.

In the meantime, before departing for the donors’ conference in Tokyo, Secretary Clinton told reporters, “We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan.”

Somewhere in the air space between Kabul and Tokyo, Hamid Karzai could not keep his smiles in a single file.

Domani Spero

US Mission Afghanistan: To 2024 and Beyond – That’s A-OK ‘Cuz Our Soldiers for 2024 Entered Kindergarten Last Fall

According to news report, the United States is promising to help defend Afghanistan militarily for at least the next decade after Afghan forces formally take full control of the their country’s security in 2014.

Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta said that under the proposed deal, both sides could agree to extend U.S. military assistance past 2024.  The draft agreement was reportedly signed over the weekend by Spanta and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker during a ceremony in Kabul.

Oddly enough, US Embassy Kabul’s website and social media arms are pretty quiet about this new and important development.  No photos of the ceremony were posted, no draft agreement of the US-Afghan Strategeric Pact posted, not even a Twitter whisper. Just absolutely nothing! Everything and everyone sewed up as quietly as a stuffed mouse.  Although not on the area of condemnation, of which there’s a lot like —

Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker Condemns Actions Depicted in Photos
U.S. Embassy Kabul Condemns Attacks
U.S. Embassy Condemns Attacks in Herat and Helmand Provinces

A related VOA News quotes U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall praising  the draft agreement, saying it supports “an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity” and that contributes to the shared goal of defeating al-Qaida and its extremist affiliates.

Wait, wait a minute – didn’t Leon said something about those Al-Qaida dudes in Afghanistan?

In June 2010, CIA Director Leon Panetta told Jake Tapper on teevee that there were “at most” only 50-100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Remember that?

“I think the estimate on the number of Al Qaeda is actually relatively small,” Panetta said. “At most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less. It’s in that vicinity. There’s no question that the main location of Al Qaeda is in the tribal areas of Pakistan.”

Well, so what? That’s just the CIA, what do they know?

The same report repeated that news item about President Karzai wanting a written commitment of $2 billion a year from the United States after the withdrawal.

Apparently, our government is happy to give him more.  U.S. officials said they could pay up to about $4 billion a year to fund Afghan forces.

*Ching-wah TSAO duh liou mahng!!!

This is absolutely freakin great news!

There are less that 100 Al Qaida “nationals” in Afghanistan and we’re staying there for ten more years until 2024, and maybe beyond. You know, in case they make a mess of our nation-building project mess over there. But it’s all right because our soldiers for 2024 entered kindergarten last fall.

Also, President Karzai whose control spans Kabul and beyond the city limits (as we all know) wanted $2 billion on paper. And we’re giving him $4 billion and change because we are generous people, never mind that our houses are falling down. Or that many of our kids, who will be fighting this war beyond 2024 go to sleep hungry every night in the United States of America.

As an aside – please, somebody, please tell us which International School of Negotiation did you all go to, because we are definitely going to enroll there for our Ph.D.

Um – about being hungry in America? You think, no way, Jose – not in America. Yes, way – Hunger in America 2010, the  largest study of domestic hunger, providing comprehensive and statistically-valid data on the emergency food distribution system and the people Feeding America serves indicates that: 1) Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children (an increase of 46 percent over 2006), 2) Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks is feeding 1 million more Americans each week than the organization did in 2006; 3) The number of children the Feeding America network serves has increased by 50 percent since 2006.

So, I was eating lunch today and all I could think about is Hamid Karzai’s $4 freakin billion every year for the next ten years for starters.  And I hate to admit that I lost my lunch, all over the place.

After I’ve cleaned up my mess, I heard that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) was barred by Hamid Karzai from entering Afghanistan.  And while I am not/not a fan of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), U.S. taxpayers elected that man. And since U.S. taxpayer money is funding Hamid Karzai and the Government of Afghanistan, and will continue to do so until 2024 and on to perpetuity, I say, we should send Congressman Rohrabacher as Pro-Consul to Afghanistan, and make sure our investment is well spent. As our dear, Jerry Bremmer did in Iraq.

Oops! And here is where I’ll make a confession — I’ve just lost all my marbles! It’s that kind of sucky day.

What else is there to say except perhaps remind our government  to better not slash funds for Feeding America, so we’ll have soldiers for Afghanistan for 2024 and beyond.

Domani Spero

*Excuse me for saying – Frog-Humping Son of a Bitch!

Quote of the Day: Mayor of Kabul Wants $2 Billion a Year from US, Write That Down

“We want them to write down that America will give for Afghanistan’s security $2 billion a year — or at least two billion a year. (…] If they want to give us more, they are welcome.”

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, an...

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, and President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai conduct a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 13, 2005. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hamid Karzai
President of Afghanistan
via

And why shouldn’t we give him more?