Corruption in Afghanistan
Books on Afghanistan
Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. The President of Afghanistan is an extremely corrupt leader and is responsible for much of the dysfunction of the Afghan government. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and other organizations are trying to lessen the amount of corruption and the harm that it causes but progress is extremely slow. A huge concern among many diplomatic and military leaders is that Afghan corruption drives people to support the Taliban.
Types of Corruption. There are many types of corruption that undermine the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Three broad categories of corruption are economic corruption, criminal and patronage networks, and petty corruption. Economic corruption includes extortion, "tax" contracts, and significant diversioin of foreign assistance from donor nations. Criminal and patronage networks facilitate illicit drug trafficing, provide money to insurgents, and subvert the government and security institutions. Petty corruption involves lower level government officials usually in the form of bribes.
Underlying Contibutors to Corruption. There are a lot of factors that aid the corruption process in Afghanistan. In general, there is a lack of knowledge on how damaging corruption is to the counterinsurgency effort, lack of credibility and trust in the Afghan government, and the support that the population provides to the insurgents as a result of a corrupt governmental system. The immense amount of money that is pushed into Afghanistan in the form of aid and development assistance is damaging because of a lack of control over what the Government of Afghanistan does with it - there are no "controls" that provide the donor nations and organizations with "leverage" to keep the corruption in check. On one hand we (ISAF) are attempting to connect the population to the government in an effort to strengthen the authority and legitimacy of the government. But on the other hand the Afghan government is corrupt and this risks alienating the population and strenghtening the insurgency.
CJIATF-Shafaiyat. ISAF established a task force to deal with the Afghan corruption problem. It is called Task Force Shafafiyat (or Task Force Transparency) or more officially called Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force - Shafafiyat. The task force was established by General Patreaus and at one time was headed by BG H.R. McMaster. The mission of CJIATF-Shafaiyat is to foster a common understanding of the corruption problem and plan, implement, and integrate ISAF anti-corruption efforts - to support the develop of an honest Afghan administration. CJIATF Shafafiyat achieved initial operational capability in last August 2010, with full operational capability in October 2010.
The anti-corruption effort for ISAF is now headed by MG Richard Longo (as of Jan 2013). He is the commander of CJIATF-A and the Director of Task Force 2010. You can view his bio on the ISAF website here and on WikipediA here.
The Afghans have established the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption or HOOAC. However, in reality, the Afghans that currently run the country do not want to see their the pipline of money that flows from the donor nations to their Swiss or Dubai bank accounts interrupted. So this "high office" really is not doing much to fix the corrupt situation in Kabul. 1.
An "implementing partner" that is being provided money to help the Afghan's fix their corruption problem is Management Systems International or MSI. The project the MSI is engaged in is to help build a strong institution that will help the HOOAC build their institution and capabilities. 2.
Task Force 2010. In 2010 General Patraeus established a special task force to try to follow the money trail in an effort to ensure that money is spent properly. The task force was initially headed by Read Admiral Kathleen Dussault; however her stay in Afghanistan lasted just four months and she was replaced by a junior officer. The task force is to focus on the intersection of contractor money and poltical power in Afghanistan and to minimize corruption related to contracting.
Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). SIGAR has had a storied past. It has not been viewed as an effective organization. In fact, one of the heads of SIGAR was forced to resign by Congress. 4. SIGAR is supposed to conduct audits of reconstruction projects and attempt to recover any US taxpayer funds. But shoddy record keeping and poorly maintained databases of the U.S. military make this a hard task. In the past few years SIGAR has been more effective but the jury is out on how effective it really will be. Visit the organization's website at www.sigar.mil.
Afghanistan has a poor history of combating corruption. President Karzai appointed a childhood friend to head the Afghan anti-corruption agency. In 2007 it was revealed that the official - Izzatullah Wasifif - spent 3 1/2 years in a U.S. prison for selling $2 million worth of drugs in the late 1980s. 3.
The Afghan National Police (ANP) are a big part of the corruption problem. Most Afghans view the country's police forces as corrupt. A recent annual poll conducted by the United Nations reveals that over half of Afghans see the national police as corrupt.
Depites ISAF's best efforts the anti-corruption campaign has realized dismal results. Afghan governmental officials have escaped prosecution, organizations set up to investigate corruption have been dismantled or hobbled, and poltical interference has aided corrupt officials which in turn has provided more support to the Taliban and the insurgency.
Karzai and Corruption. Almost no one is more corrupt than President Karzai. Although he will make passionate speaches about how corruption needs to be eliminated he continues to be the most corrupt official in Afghanistan. In addition, he condemns U.S. efforts to reduce corruption as an attempt to meddle in Afghan soveriegn affairs. On the rare occasion that an Afghan official does try to fight corruption he will find himself quickly dismissed (fired) by Karzai. 5.
Website - I Paid a Bribe. Perhaps one way to help stem the plague of corruption in Afghanistan is to follow the example of some anti-corruption activists in India and Kenya. They have published websites where citizens can share their experiences with bribery. See www.ipaidabribe.or.ke and www.ipaidabribe.com. 8.
Afghanistan High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC)
Anti-Corruption Capacity Building
Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring & Evaluation Committee (MEC)
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)
Countering Corruption in Afghanistan
Contracting With the Enemy, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Audit 13-6, April 2013. Accessed here.
Mobile Payments, Conflict and Corruption in Afghanistan, Blumentstock, Callen and Ghani, Berkeley University, April 27, 2012. Accessed here.
Corruption & Anti-Corruption Issues in Afghanistan, Civil-Military Fusion Centre, February 2012. Accessed here on ReliefWeb.int Feb 2012.
The Strategic Impact of Corruption in Afghanistan. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) Information Paper. June 19, 2011. Document posted on publicintelligence.net website and accessed here on February 2012.
Anti-corruption Strategic Plan. By the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan High Office of Oversight and Anti-corruption. December 2010. An Adobe Acrobat PDF accessed here on the U.S. Army Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania on Feb 2012.
How America Corrupted Afghanistan: Time to Look in the Mirror. By Anthony H. Cordesman, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), September 8, 2010. Accessed here on CSIS web site on February 2012.
Corruption in Afghanistan. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, January 19, 2010. Accessed here February 2012.
Report on HOOAC by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published on December 16, 2009 and accessed here on the SIGAR website (Feb 2012). (Adobe Acrobat PDF).
Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Operations. By Transparency International. A handbook aimed at managers and staff of humanitarian agencies in the headquarters and in the field. How to identify the corruption risks and how to minimize those risks.
May 17, 2013. "Airing of Dirty Laundry Raises Afghan Hopes that Corruption will be Tackled". Radio Free Europe.
May 14, 2013. "Afghan finance minister offers peek at high-level corruption". Stars and Stripes. Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal provides names.
May 14, 2013. "Following the money for the wrong reasons". Strategy Page.
May 13, 2013. "Corrupt Afghan MPs are named in parliament". BBC News Asia.
April 30, 2013. "CIA Cash to Karzai Said to Fit Afghan Patronage system". Bloomberg. Karzai received millions of dollars from the CIA over the years.
April 12, 2013. "The Taliban Is Using US Tax Dollars to Kill American Soldiers in Afghanistan". Business Insider.
April 11, 2013. "Report: Afghan militants could get contract funds". The Seattle Times. DoD contract officials ignoring classified reports.
April 10, 2013. "State Department's direct aid push slammed in wake of Afghan corruption". The Hill's Global Affairs.
February 18, 2013. "Local National Guard Soldier Helps Uncover Corruption in Afghanistan". Oskaloosa News. An Army Sgt helps ruin corrupt Afghan officials plans in a fuel corruption case.
February 17, 2013. "In Kabul's Car Guantanamo, Autos Languish and Trust Dies". The New York Times. Story on seized cars, traffic, police and corruption.
February 17, 2013. "To cut Afghan red tape, bribery is the norm". The Washington Post.
February 10, 2013. "Afghan corruption imperils future success". USA Today.
February 8, 2013. "Corruption Costing Afghanistan Almost $4 Billion: UN Report". International Business Times.
February 7, 2013. "Cost of Afghan corruption rose sharply last year, with half the population paying a bribe". Fox News.
February 6, 2013. "So, this is the office that will investigate Afghanistan's Kam Air?" The Christian Science Monitor. Corrupt Afghan attorney general to investigate.
February 5, 2013. "Afghan corruption, opium, and the strange case of Kam Air". The Christian Science Monitor. The U.S. caves in to Karzai on the blacklisting of an Afghan airlines that smuggles opium.
January 30, 2013. "Afghans Bristle at U.S. Ban on Airline". The New York Times. The U.S. military puts Kam Air on blacklist for transporting drugs.
December 23, 2012. "No Love Lost: Afghan Woman Exposes Corrupt Judge's Unusual Offer". Radio Free Europe.
December 22, 2012. "Karzai: Foreigners to blame for corruption". Army Times.
December 21, 2012. "IG in Afghanistan: $201 M in fuel purchases untracable". Stars and Stripes.
December 20, 2012. "Corruption! It's How We Roll!". Marking Time.
December 11, 2012. "Kabul is the Best Place in the World to Move Boatloads of Unmarked Cash". Business Insider.
December 6, 2012. "Afghanistan's Rock-bottom Global Corruption Ranking". The Blog, Huffington Post.
December 3, 2012. "Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 will demand a new tack in Afghanistan". Transparency International.
December 2, 2012. "Karzai's cabal steals the national capital". The Sydney Morning Herald. News on how the Karzai regime (friends and family) stole millions of dollars from the Kabul Bank and shipped it in suitcases and airline food trays to Dubai.
November 30, 2012. "The Bank Bust That Nearly Took Down Afghanistan". Time Magazine.
November 26, 2012. "Audit Says Kabul Bank Began as 'Ponzi Scheme'". The New York Times.
November 5, 2012. "Afghan corruption, and how the U.S. facilitates it". The Washington Post.
November 2, 2012. "U.S. Finds Graft by Favored Afghan Leader". The Wall Street Journal. Governor Shirzai of Nangahar Province protects insurgents and runs corrupt government.
October 25, 2012. "Warlords and criminals rife in a city weary of corruption". Irish Times.com.
October 23, 2012. "A Glimmer of Hope in a Race Against Corruption". The Kabul Cable.
October 19, 2012. "Legalize Bribe Giving". Wadsam - Afghan Business News.
October 11, 2012. "Report: Afghan contractors falsify culvert work". Air Force Times.
October 11, 2012. "SIGAR: Roadside anti-IED devices never installed, increased risk to troops". Foreign Policy.
September 19, 2012. "Afghanistan's Karzai targets governores in anti-graft fight". Reuters.com.
September 14, 2012. "Curbing Corruption in Afghanistan". By Inge Fryklund, Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF).
August 2, 2012. "Afghan finance minister faces corruption investigation". Reuters.
August 2, 2012. "Integrity Training: Integral to Our Security and Theirs". National Review Online.
July 31, 2012. "U.S. Wages Sisyphean War Against Afghan Corruption". NPR.
May 3, 2012. "Former Development Contractor Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison and $10,000 Fine", Market Watch.
April 4, 2012. "Kabul Bank Scandal: Hamid Karzai sets up special tribunal", The Guardian.
March 29, 2012. "Afghanistan: The Ghost Teachers of Ghor". Ground Report.
March 29, 2012. "British official expresses doubts about Afghan efforts to tackle corruption". The Washington Post.
March 27, 2012. "Billions in cash smuggled out of Afghanistan every year". CNN.
March 25, 2012. "Corruption eyed as motive in Kabul shooting". Air Force Times. Corruption in Afghan Air Force likely behind shootings of 8 Americans in Kabul.
March 22, 2012. "Allen: Corruption, safe havens block Afghan success". The Washington Times.
March 20, 2012. "Afghanistan corruption could see UK cut off security funds". The Guardian.
March 19, 2012. "Rampant Capital Flight Saw $4.6 Billion Leave Afghanistan in 2011". Economy Watch - Follow the Money.
March 19, 2012. "Cashing Out of Corruption". Technology Review.
March 13, 2012. "U.S. Special Forces Take Down Corrupt Afghan Officials, One At A Time". AOL Defense.
March 10, 2012. "US lawmaker wants Afghanistan's Karzai investigated". Associated Press Google Hosted News.
March 9, 2012. "Afghans Hinder Smuggling Inquirey, 2 U.S. Officials Say". The New York Times. Afghan Air Force accused of smuggling drugs.
March 8, 2012. "U.S. probes allegations Afghan Air Force involved in drug running". Reuters.
March 7, 2012. "Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy". By Matthew Rosenberg and Graham Bowley. The New York Times.
February 28, 2012. "Millions spent on no-show teachers in Afghanistan". The Gulf Today.
February 24, 2012. "Why we need to get out of Afghanistan - now". Chicago Tribune Opinion. A member of a forensic accounting team in Afghanistan details why the billions of money spent on Afghanistan is wasted.
February 14, 2012. "Afghan cash buyers target Palm Jumeirah". Arabian Business.com.
February 13, 2012. "Where family ties matter more than the law". Nelson Mail.
February 13, 2012. "Afghanistan's rich and their cash prepare for exodus". The National (UAE).
February 12, 2012. "Afghan President Meets Anti-Corruption Monitoring Committee". Voice of America.
February 10, 2012. "20 Most Corrupt Countries". Afghanistan is rated #4. The Daily Beast.
January 19, 2012. "Afghan, ISAF Officials Detail Corruption Fight". American Forces Press Service.
January 19, 2012. "DOD News Briefing with Janan Mosazai and Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster". U.S. Department of Defense. BG McMaster presides over a press conference about corruption in Afghanistan. McMaster is the commander of the ISAF Task Force Shafafiyat (or Task Force Transparency).
January 19, 2012. "McMaster: Afghan anti-corruption drive is working". The Washington Post.
January 19, 2012. "Living in the Age of Corruption". Daily Outlook Afghanistan.
December 14, 2011. "Afghan Leadership Observes International Anti-Corruption Day". ISAF.
December 4, 2011. "Afghan youth sya 'No' to Corruption". ISAF.
December 4, 2011. "Afghan anti-corruption watchdog threatens to quit". The Guardian.
October 11, 2011. "Afghanistan government corruption remains despite President Karzai's pledge to root out graft probes". Daily News.
September 15, 2011. "Corrupt Afgahn trucking for U.S. military probed by Congress". The Washington Post.
September 7, 2011. "Lawmaker rips Afghan corruption on supplies". Army Times.
September 4, 2011. "Hospital Story Proves U.S. Can Squelch Afghan Corruption". Commentary Magazine.
August 24, 2011. "Billions spent on Afghan police but brutality, corruption prevail". Reuters.
August 16, 2011. "Afghan Anti-Corruption Plan Succeeds". Commentary Magazine.
August 15, 2011. "U.S. military awards contracts in Afghanistan to get money away from insurgents". The Washington Post.
July 31, 2011. "Warlords, government capacity threaten Afghan mining: watchdog". Reuters.
July 27, 2011. "Afghan corruption: Here's a long view . . . " The Best Defense.
July 24, 2011. "U.S. trucking funds reach Taliban, military-led investigation conclude". The Washington Post.
July 19, 2011. "Afghanistan's anti-corruption efforts thwarted at every turn". The Guardian.
June 25, 2011. "Afghanistan Corruption: Study Says Taliban Influence Will Outlast U.S. Military Presence". Huffington Post.
June 25, 2011. "Afghan corruption soars as withdrawal discussed". Navy Times.
June 16, 2011. "The financial scandal that broke Afghanistan's Kabul Bank". The Guardian.
June 8, 2011. "Report: U.S. Aid to Afghanistan Encouraging Dependency, Corruption". PBS Newshour.
June 4, 2011. "Gates Seeks Afghan Anti-Corruption Steps as Drawdown Begins". Bloomberg Businessweek.
January 27, 2011. "SIGAR Contract Audit Shows $49.2 Million at Risk of Waste". SIGAR.mil.
January 5, 2011. "The can-do major of Kabul: Some see model for a modern Afghanistan politician". The Christian Science Monitor.
September 21, 2010. "Afghan Elections: Corruption Could Again Thwart Democracy". Time World.
September 8, 2010. "Who's Really Responsible For Afghan Corruption?" Wired.com Danger Room.
September 6, 2010. "Western Attitudes Toward Afghan Corruption". Think Progress.
September 4, 2010. "Inside Corrupt-istan, a Loss of Faith in Leaders". The New York Times.
June 21, 2010. "Military Task Force Tackles Thorny Issue of Contractors in Afghanistan". The Washington Independent.
May 2010. "New task force stands up to combat contract corruption". ISAF.
December 9, 2009. "U.S. trainers bemoan Afghan corruption". UPI.com.
September 9, 2009. "The Afghanistan High Office of Oversight for Anti-Corruption -A Glimmer of Hope". In Asia, The Asia Foundation.
July 8, 2010. "Afghan corruption has doubled since 2007, survey says". BBC News.
1. See a news article that is very critical of the HOOAC. "Afghan anti-corruption watchdog threatens to quit", The Guardian, December 4, 2011 accessed here Feb 2012.
2. Management Systems International, a subsidiary of Coffey International, LTD, is assisting in the anti-corruption effort by helping the HOOAC develop its institutions and processes. See "Supporting Afghanistan's High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption" on the MSI webpage. Accessed February 2012 here.
3. Numerous news reports support this allegation. See "How anti-corruption chief once sold heroin in Las Vegas", The Guardian, August 27, 2007 accessed here February 2012.
4. Congress brings down top auditor of Afghan corruption. Wrong target? The Christian Science Monitor, January 12, 2011.
5. Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar, a former deputy attorney general, was fired by President Karzai for being too aggressive in his anti-corruption activities. See "Graft-Fighting Prosecutor Fired in Afghanistan", The New York Times, August 28, 2010.
6. See "Military's Anti-Corruption Chief Leaves Afghanistan After Just Four Months". Wired.com Danger Room, September 21, 2010.
7. See "UN poll: Afghan police still corrupt but improving". The Guardian, January 31, 2012.
8. See "Web site strives to fight corruption in Kenya", The Washington Post, February 6, 2012.
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