Ex-UN official accuses Kabul leaders of ‘rapacious corruption’, blames them for worsening situation

UN warns food stocks in Afghanistan could run out by month's end

NEW YORK, Jul 23 (APP):A former United Nations official, who has served in Afghanistan, holds the Afghan leaders responsible for the deteriorating situation there, saying they had enough time to transform the country, but did nothing much except indulging in “rapacious corruption,” according to an article published in The Diplomat, a Washington-based online magazine.

“Despite all of the hand-wringing and finger pointing in Kabul amid the looming crisis, Afghan leaders have had more than enough time and resources to have transformed their country and undercut the Taliban’s appeal and ideology,” Aidai Masylkanova, a visiting fellow at Harvard University, who served as a political officer in the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in 2012-2013, wrote in the magazine.

“For a small nation that has gotten more than a trillion dollars of military and economic support, its leaders have little to show except for continuing and rapacious corruption,” She wrote under the headline: In ‘Afghanistan, Deja Vu All Over Again’ — a reference to her observations when the US once set 2014 as the year to begin its troop withdrawal from the country.

In the end, Ms. Masylkanova, a Kyrgyz national, said, Afghanistan has squandered an opportunity to transform itself, while noting that as it reverts to the tribalism, its future as a nation is indeed bleak.

At the outset, the author referred to her 8-year-old article entitled “Is Afghanistan a Sinking Boat? Anxiety about U.S Withdrawal 2014,” saying she observed the panic among the local population, especially the ethnic minorities such as Hazaras, Tajiks, and Uzbeks who feared that they would be targeted again by the Taliban once U.S forces began drawing down in 2014.

“The Afghan generals I interviewed were pessimistic too. They expected that the Taliban would most likely take over the country as soon as the foreign forces departed. Women feared that all the gains achieved since 2001 would be lost, sentiments shared by human rights activists.

“That was eight years ago. The latest news on Afghanistan inspires a strong sense of deja vu. Today, Afghanistan is indeed a sinking boat as U.S. forces finally are departing, a process to be completed by August 31 according to the Biden administration. As predicted, the Taliban are on a strategic offensive, taking over townships and controlling key transportation routes and encircling Kabul, causing an unprecedented deflation of morale in the ranks of the Afghan military and police,” Ms. Masylkanova stated.

Noting that the Taliban already trumpet their victory in pushing foreign forces out of Afghanistan, the author said they further insist that there is no need for any residual U.S. forces and Turkish military to stay to provide the security for the international airport, diplomatic staff, and government buildings in Kabul.

U.N. leaders are pleading with the international community to continue supporting Afghanistan as countries in the region are already seeing an influx of refugees, she said, noting a growing international consensus that the country will inevitably descend into chaos in the coming months, bringing on a humanitarian crisis of great scale.

“All the people I interview for this piece agreed that there will be a power struggle between the government forces and the Taliban before any rebuilding process could start, if one ever starts at all. Rebuilding requires peace, capacity, and skilled people, almost all of which are now hemorrhaging from the country,” Ms. Masylkanova wrote.

Experts fears that the most likely scenario awaiting Afghanistan is civil war: Warlords will directly fight against the Taliban, further dividing the country and deepening the chaos. If that materializes, then apart from the refugee crisis, Central Asian countries may face serious threats to their security. The Taliban may find sympathizers among Central Asians who traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State. The region’s disenchanted youth, especially those who received an Islamic education, may also find inspiration in the movement.

“The region and the international community should hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” she added

Meanwhile, David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist, Friday commented on the situation arising from US President Joe Biden’s decision to pullout American troops from Afghanistan.

Pointing out that Biden’s options for stabilizing Afghanistan now are severely limited, he remarked in his regular column that “U.S. combat troops are gone: Once the military was given the order to retreat, it didn’t waste any time.”

“But,” he said, “Biden still has some leverage that could check the panic that’s spreading in Afghanistan following the U.S. military’s departure — and forestall a Taliban armed takeover in Kabul in the next three months, as analysts fear is likely.

Ignatius enumerated the following steps Biden could take to reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic outcome:

— Appoint a special U.S. military envoy to visit Kabul immediately and recommend measures to assist the Afghan military and provide continuing U.S.?support. Two obvious possibilities are retired Gen.?David H. Petraeus, former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and retired Gen.?Joseph F. Dunford Jr., former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former coalition commander in Afghanistan, who this year co-chaired a blue-­ribbon Afghan study group for the U.S.?Institute of Peace.

— Demand that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani create a leadership council that includes all major forces across the country that oppose the Taliban. This “big tent” is the country’s last chance to gather a coalition that can check a takeover by the Taliban.

— Back an international mediator who can bolster U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s dogged but so far unsuccessful efforts to encourage a peaceful transition agreement between the Taliban and the Kabul government. Afghanistan’s neighbours — Pakistan, India, Russia, China and Iran — all oppose a military takeover by the Taliban. So a regional consensus for stability is within the realm of what can be achieved.

“But the United States needs urgent help from Afghanistan’s neighbours in assembling a broader coalition government and preventing a Taliban takeover,” Ignatius wrote. “This shouldn’t be an ask, as in Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s March letter to (President Ashraf) Ghani, but a demand — backed by all the carrots and sticks America has in hand.”

He added, “If Afghanistan turns out to be a freewheeling disaster, it will obliterate other seeming gains in the battle of influence with Russia or China. The trickiest issue is how to get help from China, which is worried about an Afghan government collapse but has seemed to be gloating over the United States’ troubles.”