Daily brief: Karzai administration members on CIA payroll: report
The rules of the road The CIA is reportedly making payments to multiple members of the Karzai administration in Afghanistan, even as U.S.-supported anti-corruption investigations look at Afghan officials and attempt to stem the undeclared cash flowing out of the country (Post). The CIA is not alone in its payments to Afghan officials, who can ...
The rules of the road
The rules of the road
The CIA is reportedly making payments to multiple members of the Karzai administration in Afghanistan, even as U.S.-supported anti-corruption investigations look at Afghan officials and attempt to stem the undeclared cash flowing out of the country (Post). The CIA is not alone in its payments to Afghan officials, who can serve as informants or channels of access; one "prominent Afghan with knowledge of the inner workings of the palace" said the palace distributes $10 million to $50 million every year from a fund from the Iranian government and foreign intelligence to political allies.
Hamid Karzai told a group of visiting U.S. congressmen yesterday that the Obama administration’s July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops "has given courage to the enemies of Afghanistan," and suggested the U.S. needs to do more to force Pakistan to stop providing support to the Taliban (BBC, Wash Post, AP, AJE). Karzai aides are said to be critical of the Obama administration for focusing so much on corruption.
"A demolition derby"
Three Afghan policemen and two civilians were killed earlier today when a bomb went off at a crowded market in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz (Pajhwok, AP). The U.S. is reportedly worried about security and expects an uptick in Taliban attacks, particularly in Kunduz, as next month’s parliamentary elections in Afghanistan edge closer (Reuters). Also in the north, Afghanistan has extracted oil for the first time, after the Ministry of Mines announced the find of an oilfield in Sar-i-Pul with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels earlier this month (Reuters). There are plans to pump a minor 800 barrels a day.
In southern Afghanistan, the Taliban have reportedly seized a camera from a reconnaissance drone that crashed after it lost engine power in Kandahar (AFP). And in the east, six Afghan children were killed by a NATO airstrike aimed at nearby insurgents in Kunar (AFP, Pajhwok).
Downing Street is reviewing its security procedures for visits by senior British leaders to Afghanistan and other war zones, as the Taliban threat to Prime Minister David Cameron on June 10 as the PM visited Helmand was "much closer than anyone said at the time," according to one Whitehall source (Times). And the LA Times reports that more than half of Afghan army injuries are the result of vehicular accidents, writing that many recruits have never driven cars before, and the ones who have, have "done so primarily in the clogged, chaotic streets of Kabul…where traffic resembles a demolition derby" (LAT).
Here comes the rain again
In the last 48 hours, nearly one million more Pakistanis have been displaced by flooding in the south, where places like Thatta, 45 miles east of Karachi, are still at risk, though floodwaters are receding in much of the north (AP, Reuters, Dawn, ET, Daily Times). The flooded areas in Pakistan are now reportedly larger than any freshwater lake in the world (Independent). Carlotta Gall has today’s must-read describing how the flooding could set Pakistani infrastructure back "years, if not decades, further weaken its feeble civilian administration and add to the burdens on its military" and "distract from American requests for Pakistan to battle Taliban insurgents" (NYT). Bonus read: AfPak Behind the Lines on Pakistan’s infrastructure problems and natural disasters (FP).
A spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan accused the U.S. of having ulterior motives for providing relief to Pakistani flood victims, commenting, "No relief is reaching the affected people, and when the victims are not receiving help, then this horde of foreigners is not acceptable to us at all," hinting at attacks on aid workers (AP, ET, NYT). Pakistan’s Express Tribune reports that donors seem to be reluctant to give money directly to the Pakistani government, after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s request for direct aid was reportedly rebuffed by aid groups and ambassadors (ET).
The museum of old cars
According to some car dealers in Kabul, 90 percent of the vehicles on the road are Toyota Corollas, some as old as two decades (Post). There are some half a million registered vehicles in Kabul, where "there are just a handful of traffic signals, which most drivers ignore anyway, adhering instead to the rules of going as fast as possible and always assuming the right of way."
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