Tuesday :: May 25, 2004

Meanwhile, Back In The War On Terra, ...

by pessimist

Remember Afghanistan? The place where Osama is suupposed to be hanging out awaiting US Special Forces to come and arrest him? The place where for the first time in THEIR history, they will soon have a democratically elected representative [of Unocal] government?

I don't remember Dumbya saying too much about Afghanistan in his speech last night, but we all know that if there's no oil there's no reason to care much.

So just what IS going on in the other Bushwar?

War returns with a vengeance as allies fail the Afghan people

After the fall of the Taliban, the streets of Kabul used to be busy until the 10pm curfew. Now they are deserted by eight in the evening, with the headlights of a few solitary cars hurtling through the darkness. Foreigners travel in convoys, with armed guards.

Amanullah Haidar runs a stall 100 yards from the Mustafa Hotel in the city centre, one of the few places deemed to be safe for the expatriate community to meet in the evening, where the two brothers who run it carry pistols in shoulder holsters, and guards with semi-automatic rifles man the main door.

"We are disappointed by lack of progress, lack of money, lack of jobs," said Mr Haidar, a Tajik former Northern Alliance soldier. "I remember all these people who came here from Europe and America and told us how they are going to help us.

But where are the factories and the offices we thought we would get? What about the elections we were promised?"

Probably they are right next to those we used to have in America - on their way to India and China.

Twenty-five years of war have destroyed what there was of Afghan infrastructure. In a number of regions, such as the Shomali Plain, the Taliban and their Pakistani allies destroyed centuries-old irrigation systems in a scorched-earth policy against the Northern Alliance.

Following the last war, attempts were made to restore water and power. But systematic strikes by the Taliban on power lines and irrigation projects, and murders of foreign engineers, has ground much of it to a halt.

At present, just 9 per cent of the population have access to electricity. Safe drinking water is estimated to be restricted to 6 per cent.

The World Bank has authorised a $40m loan for water projects, but while work can begin with the funds in the north and west, it is deemed to be too dangerous in the Pashtun belt of the south and east.

Even where aid money is available, the security situation is preventing distribution. The five men killed in Paktika worked for the National Solidarity Programme (SDF), which is now pulling out of 72 areas in the country. Ihsanullah Dileri, the organisation's head of co-ordination said in his Kabul office: "This is a very bad, very desperate situation. We had $60,000 to spend on each of those 72 areas, now this cannot be done. All these areas are badly deprived, with poor people lacking basic facilities. But I am afraid the security simply is not there for us to continue with our work. It is too dangerous."

Barbara Stapleton, of the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) an umbrella body representing 90 national and international aid agencies, added: "We are very concerned about security and the deterioration of the situation. Impunity rules in the country. It's not just the NGO [non-governmental organisations] community, but the Afghan people at large who are exposed to these levels of insecurity."

There is also evidence that the American military is using aid as a means of acquiring intelligence.

Delivering blankets and food to refugees at Dwamanda in the south, Lieutenant Reid Finn had no hesitation in telling journalists: "It's simple. The more they help us find the bad guys, the more good stuff they get."

Teena Roberts, the head of Christian Aid's mission in the country, said: "The result of this is aid workers have become targets. I have not come across the use of aid in this way before."

This 'successful' exercise in nation building was brought to you by the BFEE/PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse and their many wealthy multinational corporate sponsors.

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pessimist :: 3:36 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!