Cablegate: Prt/Qalenow: Semi-Annual Report On Security,

DE RUEHBUL #0950/01 0831259
P 241259Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Qal-e Now, in the western part of
Afghanistan, has witnessed much progress over the last year.
Residents of the capital enjoy a much better quality of life
then they did under the Taliban. The PRT has had a direct
impact on economic growth in the provincial capital.
However, this progress has not reached the rest of Badghis.
While threats to security are relatively low compared to
other provinces, the government's ability to confront
security threats is also comparatively weak. Rising
insecurity in the northern districts of Murghab and Ghormach
has prevented the provincial government from initiating
development projects. Recent violence is a result of ethnic
conflict and criminal activity as well as increased insurgent
activity. Security initiatives such as DIAG and counter
narcotics programs have languished, especially in Murghab,
Ghormach and Jawand districts. The inability of the local
government to extend its influence province-wide impedes
progress on a variety of fronts. There are reportedly plans
to station ANA forces in the Murghab area, but no date has
been set for the deployment. Governor Mohammed Nasim has
attempted to create support for his administration by quickly
responding to local emergencies, but many local residents
blame him for the slow pace of development in the districts.
Until the security situation and provincial road network is
improved, the province will continue to experience highly
mixed political, economic, and social progress. END SUMMARY.

Security: Capital Safe, Regions Less So
2. (SBU) Badghis has historically been a very stable
province, but over the last year insecurity has increased.
While threats to security are relatively low compared to
other provinces, the government's ability to confront threats
is also comparatively weak. There is no Afghan National Army
(ANA) presence in Badghis and the Afghan National Police
(ANP) lacks the manpower, training, equipment and possibly
motivation to provide security throughout the province. The
government has focused its security resources primarily in
Qal-e Now and the southern districts, in effect creating a
relatively safe zone around the capital while allowing a zone
of insecurity to develop in the districts of Ghormach,
Murghab, and Jawand. The general impression in the province
is that insecurity has spread province-wide, but the reality
is that the level of insecurity varies between regions.

3. (SBU) Security in Qal-e Now has remained static or
improved slightly over the last year. There has never been
an insurgency-related attack in the capital, and members of
the PRT continue to walk to meetings in the city with only a
two-man armed escort. UNAMA recently opened an office in
Qal-e Now after UNAMA's regional security advisor pronounced
security in the capital "manageable." The PRT Commander
believes that overall security in Qal-e Now has improved in
recent months and notes that common crime is very rare in the
capital. Frequent PRT patrols of the capital area augment
the large ANP presence in and around Qal-e Now.

4. (SBU) Security in the northern districts of Murghab,
Ghormach, and to a lesser extent eastern Jawand continues to
deteriorate. In the last six-months there has been a marked
increase in the number of security incidents, with a large
percentage of them being targeted against foreigners. In
addition to UNAMA's new office, World Vision continues to
operate in the capital, but the only NGO that has any
significant reach beyond Qal-e Now is the Bangladesh NGO
BRAC. BRAC runs all the health clinics and hospitals in the
districts and BRAC's Director, Dr. Islam, believes the
situation facing his employees is getting worse. Two months
ago, Dr. Islam informed PRToff that he had withdrawn his
doctors from all clinics in Murghab and Ghormach due to
security concerns. Medical care in those districts and much
of Jawand is in the hands of locally hired and trained
nurses. In addition to threats and attacks on BRAC medical
facilities, the company working on the Ring Road in Ghormach

KABUL 00000950 002 OF 004

has come under attack.

5. (SBU) The Spanish Development Agency (AECI) recognizes the
need to provide development in both Murghab and Ghormach.
AECI's reconstruction plan calls for some development and
road projects to begin in Murghab in 2007, with increased
programs including clinic and school construction
province-wide in 2008. AECI director Pablo Yuste highlighted
that his development plan depended on increased security in
the northern districts. He opined that "we are losing the
north." He added that "all our work and gains in the Qal-e
Now area are threatened by the increased dissatisfaction of
the people in the northern districts. If this dissatisfaction
continues to grow there could be a full-blown insurgency in
the province."

6. (SBU) There has been an increase in improvised explosive
device (IED) activity and several attacks against ANA and ANP
outposts that could indicate an increase in insurgent
activity in the region. These attacks could also be the
result of local or ethnic conflicts. The northern districts
of Badghis continue to be too unstable for NGOs, the PRT or
the provincial government to conduct meaningful development
activities in areas where such projects are needed the most.

ANP Improving, ANA Needs To Be Deployed
7. (SBU) There are reportedly plans to deploy an ANA unit to
the Murghab area sometime in the spring. The deployment of a
sizable ANA unit would improve security significantly, but
the lack of a deployment date makes it imperative that
provincial leadership, supported by the PRT, take the
initiative to increase the capacity of security forces that
are currently deployed in the province.

8. (SBU) The ANP continues to benefit from training and
support received from the PRT. While not involved directly
in police training, members of the Spanish Military work
closely with ANP and National Directorate for Security (NDS)
leadership. The PRT Commander regularly attends Provincial
Coordination Center (PCC) and other security related meetings
and has developed strong relationships with the governor and
all other provincial authorities involved in security related
issues. The Spanish Military also conducts frequent joint
patrols with members of the ANP to increase the force's
competence and confidence. The newly-deployed U.S. Military
Police Support Team (PST) and Civilian Mentors have also
recently begun operations aimed at standing up the ANP as an
effective security force able to project its power throughout
the province. The PST is focused on teaching ANP officers
basic police skills while the Civilian Mentors work on
improving the ANP's management and organization. While both
of these programs are in their infancy, they have already
demonstrated great potential to improve ANP capacity.

9. (SBU) A contributing factor to insecurity in Murghab is
the geographic isolation of the district. In 2007, AECI
plans to build the first 30 kilometers of an improved road
from Qal-e Now to Murghab. When completed, the road should
cut normal travel times between the capital and Murghab in
half, and increase access to the district during winter
months. In addition to increasing the ability of ANP and PRT
forces to exert influence in Murghab, it will open the
district to increased trade and commerce as well.

10. (SBU) Having an improved ANP will not improve security
significantly unless the local government has the will to
deploy the ANP in greater numbers to problem areas. The
local government's track record of centralizing ANP forces
near the capital will need to change if security
province-wide is to be improved. Maintaining the strong
working relationship developed between local leadership and
the Spanish military will be fundamental in moving the ANP to
a more aggressive posture.

KABUL 00000950 003 OF 004

--------------------------------------------- ------
Politics: New Governor Working To Establish Himself
--------------------------------------------- ------
11. (SBU) Mohammed Nasim has been serving as governor for
just over five months, and while the jury is still out on his
effectiveness, many locals blame him for a perceived lack of
progress in the province. Nasim has attempted to establish
his authority by effectively reacting to events such as
flooding in Murghab. During the flooding he quickly formed
an emergency response team and personally went to Murghab for
two weeks to supervise the relief operation. His efforts
demonstrated a real interest in strengthening his popularity
outside of Qal-e Now, and he continues to seek ways to
demonstrate the positive results of his administration.

12. (SBU) A key criticism of Nasim is his lack of experience,
especially in the area of security. In response to problems,
Nasim is known to dispatch quickly letters to the ministry
officials, instructing them to "resolve the issue" with no
detailed instructions as to how to proceed. Another common
criticism of Nasim's administration is corruption, but to
date no real evidence has been produced. Recently, two
members of the Attorney General's office were in Qal-e Now
investigating the provincial government. It is too soon to
say if any charges will come out of the investigation or if
they will reach to the Governor, but the investigation has
weakened Nasim. Acting on authority from Kabul, the
prosecutors overturned Nasim's appointment of the Provincial
Administrator and three District Administrators, ordering
that the men fired by Nasim re-take their positions. To
date, Nasim has yet to reinstate the individuals in question.

13. (SBU) The provincial administration has made little
progress on some key programs such as DIAG and counter
narcotics initiatives. Local DIAG members hold regular
meetings, and occasionally a small cache of weapons is
collected, but all DIAG efforts are centered in the secure
districts with little effort expended to promote DIAG in
Murghab, Ghormach or Jawand. Similarly, to date the province
has no comprehensive counter narcotics plan, virtually no
eradication effort and local authorities have only
interdicted a small fraction of the opium believed to transit
the province. While Badghis is not considered a major opium
producer, there are reportedly significant amounts of opium
grown in Murghab, Ghormach and Jawand. The failure of DIAG
and counter-terrorism efforts in Badghis is indicative of the
lack of reach of the provincial government.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Economy: Growth in the Capital, Not In Districts
--------------------------------------------- ---
14. (SBU) There has been economic progress since the PRT was
established. Some of this progress is the result of
development and quick impact projects, such as the creation
of a power grid capable of providing light to 90 percent of
the city. Local consumer demand has been spurred by the
large number of citizens (over 300) employed by the PRT and
an even larger number working on other development projects
around Qal-e Now. The city center of Qal-e Now boasts many
more shops than a year before. Some of them, such as the
three carpet stores, obviously cater to foreign workers and
soldiers, but many more offer local food and products
targeted at the growing number of local residents with money
to spend. Although the growth of consumer demand has
produced a slight increase in the cost of basic consumer
goods, the standard of living in the capital appears to have
grown more rapidly than inflation.

15. (SBU) The economic growth in the capital has yet to reach
some districts, especially Ghormach, Murghab and Jawand.
Last year a drought ravaged local farmers across the
province, and heavy flooding impoverished thousands in
Murghab and Ghormach. Agriculture remains the primary source
of employment. The poor road network puts much of the

KABUL 00000950 004 OF 004

province beyond the reach of development projects and
exacerbates the economic isolation of outlying districts,
especially Ghormach, Murghab, and Jawand. The standard of
living of many villagers could be improved by the
construction of a well or a micro-dam project near their
village, but road conditions and the security concerns
outlined above keep NGOs, the PRT and the local government
from launching such programs.

16. (SBU) As the effectiveness of the ANP improves, the
provincial leadership will need to embrace a more
forward-leaning ANP force posture to move ANP officers from
around the capital to the districts of Ghormach and Murghab.
The positive effects of the Spanish military's presence and
AECI's development projects are substantial, but in order to
protect the gains already made and to spread this progress to
the districts, security must be improved in the Murghab and
Ghormach districts. ANA deployment would be a welcome
addition to provincial security, but the PRT is taking
concrete steps to increase the capacity of security forces
already present in the province to attain this goal. Until
security improves in the northern districts, development
projects needed to incorporate them into the provincial and
national economy will not be able to be implemented. END

© Scoop Media

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