Last week a few members of Congress rightly stomped their feet when the Obama administration opened up taxpayers’ wallet and gave the Muslim Brotherhood –led Egyptians $250 million. Americans were outraged as the narrative in DC centered on sequestration cuts and the fact President Obama’s staff closed the People’s House to school children during spring break. Meanwhile, an equally appalling $250 million was doled out to the equally corrupt Afghanistan government with little fanfare.
A $249 million joint counter-narcotic program was inked by former Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland, Coordinating Director for Rule of Law and Law Enforcement at Embassy Kabul and, and Afghan Foreign Deputy Minister Jawid Ludin to increase security by curtailing the illegal, but highly profitable poppy/heroin market.
Ambassador McFarland praised Afghans and said, “The cooperation between the United States and Afghanistan in these areas cannot be measured by money, but rather by the implementation of our peoples’ shared values.”
Of course it’s easy to make that statement with taxpayers money.
What most American’s don’t realize is their tax dollars will continue to flow into the well-documented corrupt nation well after the supposed 2014 war conclusion.
Proof of this came from former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann. He told CNN in January, the U.S. government would spend at least $5 billion in aid and military, plus the yearly costs to keep the embassy operational and secure for years to come. Confirming the billions of U.S. aid was former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who said America planned to maintain its support of $2 billion per year through 2017 and beyond.
But is this money well spent after a decade of war? If past precedence were an indicator that U.S. dollars’ flowing into the nation of Afghanistan is money well spent, most Americans would say no. For example, here are a few plum quotes taken from a series of stories this reporter posted in April of 2011 titled, Billion dollar corruption within the U.S.-picked Afghan regime.
“After reviewing Afghan custom records, the Wall Street Journal reported that during a three-year period more than $3.1 billion in U.S. dollars left Afghanistan through the airport destined for Middle Eastern countries like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. More than $3 billion has been shipped from a country the CIA Fact Book claims only collected $1 billion in taxes annually.
However, U.S. officials believe the number to be much higher. A senior U.S. official said one courier alone removed $2.3 billion in the second half of 2008 and into 2009.
Investigators believe the cash is being siphoned from legitimate Western aid programs and being declared, placed in suitcases and pallets, and shipped to safe havens with the knowledge of the U.S. and NATO officials. For example, NATO gave Afghanistan approximately $14 billion last year (2010).
“More declared cash flies out of Kabul each year than the Afghan government collects in tax and customs revenue nationwide. It’s not like they grow money on trees here,” said one U.S. official investigating the corruption and Taliban. “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen. And opium (poppies), of course.”
President Karzai’s brother, Mahmood, who coincidentally is a U.S. citizen (under investigation for racketeering in the U.S.), contends it is the political opponents who are skimming money and sending it out of the country.
“Yes, millions of dollars are leaving this country but it is all taken by politicians. Bribes, corruption, all of it,” Mahmood Karzai says.
Even more perplexing is the fact Mahmood Karzai fears nothing and even dares the U.S. to investigate. “Let’s find out who is taking it. Let’s not go on rumors.” He continues to explain that he has talked with U.S. officials about this corruption and maintains his innocence when it comes to profiting from U.S. contracts.
Afghanistan’s Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal also confirmed there is missing money at a press conference, “We do not even know about it. We don’t know whose it is, why it is leaving, or where it is going.”
Senior U.S. officials are complaining that money is leaving faster than anyone realizes. “You get boxes loaded on the back of airplanes. You get guys, literally, bringing boxes of cash onto the plane.”
Another method used to get money out of Afghanistan is the airport’s VIP area. Often the VIPs are driven straight to their planes where they load their cash directly on board and fly off, according to Afghan General Asif and U.S. officials.
General M. Asif Jabar Khail, the chief customs officer at Kabul airport, described a recent incident where he came across one VIP who was taking undeclared millions out of the country and when they tried to stop the VIPs flight to Dubai, they were met with fierce opposition from higher-ups in the Afghanistan government. “It came from very, very senior people. They told me there was an arrangement with the central bank and told me to let it go.”
However President Hamid Karzai sees the money changing hands differently. “Making money is fine and taking money out of the country is fine. The relatives of government officials can do this, starting with my brothers. But there’s a possibility of corruption.”
If this is true why does America and NATO continue to send billions to such a corrupt country?
Many U.S. officials claim that partnering with Afghan law enforcement agencies, the United States can enhance anti-drug trafficking efforts that fund terrorist and criminal activities, foster citizen safety, and assist Afghans in their quest for justice.
But where is the justice for the American taxpayer drowning in debt?
Even though America is broke (nearly $17 trillion in debt), diplomats have given Muslim Brotherhood-led, Egypt, billions of U.S. dollars along with F-16s, Abram’s tanks along with other military arsenal. And a recent inspector general report claimed the $2 trillion Middle East Wars resulted in billions of dollars vanished. With all the waste and corruption in the Middle East and Northern Africa, a Marine Colonel’s quote is particularly ironic, “What’s it tell the enemy when America can’t afford the gas money to send USS Truman to the Middle East?”
For more Afghanistan stories:
Afghanistan & Mexican drug cartels partner; http://www.examiner.com/article/afghan-heroin-and-mexican-cartels-are-a-recipe-for-disaster
© Copyright 2013 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.