Cablegate: Afghanistan - Jcmb Vii Discusses an Integrated Strategy And

DE RUEHBUL #0461/01 0560530
P 250530Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958 N/A

REF: Kabul 0455

1. SUMMARY: Convened in Tokyo, Japan, the Joint Coordination and
Monitoring Board (JCMB) held its second session at the Political
Directors' level (JCMB-PD) on February 5, and its seventh regular
session (JCMB-VII) on February 6, 2008. The Political Directors
considered a discussion paper that urged consideration of a more
comprehensive strategy to stabilize Afghanistan (reported reftel).
At the regular session, counter-narcotics was the main theme, as the
participants confirmed an action paper drafted by the Government of
the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) with assistance from the
U.S. and U.K. Embassies. We achieved our main aims when the JCMB as
a whole recognized the nexus between the insurgency and narcotics
production, called for immediate decisive action against narcotics,
endorsed a goal for 2008 of eradicating 50,000 hectares of poppies,
and reconfirmed the 12 action principles of the Policy Action Group.
In addition, JCMB-VII approved an increase in the Afghan National
Army force structure from 70,000 to 80,000, and acknowledged that --
depending on a study now being conducted by the Combined Security
Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTC-A) -- further increases might
be required. The discussion of the "Actions and Decisions" portion
of the agenda revealed considerable donor frustration with the lack
of Afghan government leadership in the anti-corruption and
counter-narcotics areas. The theme for the next meeting (JCMB-VIII
will be held in Kabul sometime this spring) will be governance,
especially sub-national governance. END SUMMARY.

2. On February 5, on the margins of the G-8 political directors
meeting, the JCMB met at the Political Directors level in Tokyo,
Japan to discuss broad security issues. The U.S. delegation to that
meeting, and to the JCMB-VII (the Regular Session) held the
following day, consisted of State/SCA Bureau Deputy Assistant
Secretary Patrick Moon, who was joined by Amb. Christopher Dell

(Deputy Chief of Mission, AmEmbassy Kabul) and Amb. Thomas Schweich
(PDAS State/INL Bureau). That meeting is reported reftel.

Countering the Flow of Narcotics: JCMB-VII's Theme
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. On February 6, 2008, Bo Asplund, the Acting Senior
Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the United Nations
Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), opened the JCMB seventh
regular session (JCMB-VII). Setting the stage for the
counter-narcotics discussion, Asplund noted that there is a marriage
of convenience between the Taliban and drug lords, with the
complicity of corrupt Afghan officials. Drug lords might use their
illicit earnings to buy either election to the Parliament or Afghan
parliamentarians, thus subverting democracy. Implicitly rebuking
those such as New York University professor Dr. Barrett Rubin (a
colleague of tenured NYU professor and current Afghanistan National
Development Strategy Director Dr. Ishaq Nadiri) who argue that
"nothing can be done now about poppy growing -- only a long-term
alternative livelihood plan stretching over decades can reduce poppy
cultivation," Asplund asserted strongly that "we must start
treatment now if the patient is to survive" for the longer term.

Afghans Pledge Stronger CN Action

4. In an atmosphere of broad consensus, the GIRoA and its
international partners approved a plan at the JCMB-VII on expanding
implementation of the 2006 National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS) and
endorsing all 12 counter-narcotics (CN) action points previously
agreed in Kabul by the Policy Action Group (PAG). The Afghan
government recognized the great scale of the narcotics problem
(Afghanistan produced 93 percent of the world's opium poppy in 2007)
and took account of narcotics' symbiotic connection to the

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insurgency and the threat drug money poses to the country's fragile
democratic institutions.

5. Both Afghans and the international community affirmed that the
NDCS already offers a sound CN strategy and that strong
implementation -- not another strategy -- is the key for turning the
corner on narcotics. In the newly agreed implementation plan, the
Afghans committed to:

-- 1) undertake more vigorous eradication by eradicating 50,000
hectares of poppy in 2008 while also providing force protection to
-- 2) restructure the slow-performing Counter Narcotics Trust Fund
-- 3) redesign and, if funding allows, expand alternative livelihood
-- 4) increase interdiction and arrests of narcotics traffickers and
corrupt officials;
-- 5) undertake comprehensive CN planning on a provincial basis and
hold governors accountable for results;
-- 6) expand regional CN cooperation and place Afghan CN liaison
officers in some neighboring countries; and
-- 7) "mainstream" CN as a priority in the planning of all relevant

For the next JCMB, the Afghan government agreed to provide a
proposal for restructuring the CNTF; Deputy Interior Minister
General Daoud also said the government would present the next JCMB
with a record of its actions in arresting and prosecuting high-level

Cautious Optimism on 2008 Narcotics Developments

6. UNODC director Antonio Maria Costa described a slightly improved
outlook for poppy cultivation in 2008. While Costa predicted
another large opium crop on the scale of last year's, he said it was
a positive development that poppy cultivation will be mainly
confined to five contiguous provinces in Afghanistan's south and
southwest. About a dozen of Afghanistan's 34 provinces will probably
remain poppy-free in 2008, Costa said. Costa predicted continued
success in Badakhshan and a major reduction in cultivation in
Nangarhar, which was Afghanistan's second largest poppy producing
province in 2007. UNAMA and UNODC officials noted that these
positive developments stood in contradiction to the usually
pessimistic picture painted by the international press.

Afghans: Give Us More Alternative Livelihood Funding
U.S.: Funding Cannot Be a Pre-Condition for Action

7. GIRoA representatives unanimously called for donation of
substantial new funds to provide alternative livelihoods (AL) to
farmers who choose or are forced to abandon poppy cultivation. "The
Afghans are ready," ANDS Director Ishaq Nadiri challenged, "but the
international community must support us." Nadiri and Minister of
Finance Ahady argued that meeting the implementation plan's
commitment to eradication will entail from $250 million to $500
million a year in new funds. So far, Ahady declared, AL assistance
has failed to stem the narcotics tide. The GIRoA hoped that a
reformed Counter-Narcotics Trust Fund would provide the mechanism
for delivering the new aid; however, they did not speculate about
the possible sources for this new AL assistance. (Note: USAID
delivered about $280 million in AL programs in Afghanistan in 2007.)

8. On the eve of the JCMB session, the U.S. and U.K. delegations
negotiated to forestall a last-minute attempt by Afghan National
Development Strategy officials to insert language into the JCMB's

KABUL 00000461 003 OF 006

Counter-narcotics Implementation Plan stating that non-negotiated
eradication "will cause a popular uprising" in Helmand. Minister
of Counter-narcotics Khodaidad and Deputy Minister of Interior for
Counter-narcotics Daoud opposed this language, and by working with
those officials, Amb. Schweich obtained GIRoA agreement for less
inflammatory language stating that eradication in Helmand will be
undertaken in areas where alternative livelihoods are available in
order to minimize the risk of popular discontent. Schweich also
successfully pressed back on the GIRoA's attempt to make new AL
funding a precondition for eradication and other CN activities. In
response, the Afghans moderated their position, saying that strongly
increased AL should go hand in hand with more effective eradication.
The U.S., the World Bank, and other donors also headed off Afghan
demands that massive crop subsidies and price supports be deployed
for AL.

UNODC and U.S. Point to Narcotics' Strategic Threat

9. UNODC Director Costa conditioned his mildly positive assessment
by describing the strategic threat posed by Afghanistan's narcotics
industry, particularly in regard to its connection with the
insurgency. More than three-quarters of Afghanistan's poppy is
grown in areas beyond government control. Costa estimated that the
Taliban will collect close to $100 million by taxing narcotics in
2008, in addition to money raised by running heroin labs and drug
exports. Costa claimed that, while farmers sold off opium stocks as
prices fell, the Taliban stockpiled as much as 3 million tons of
surplus opium in 2007 to finance future anti-government operations.
Costa lamented the Afghan government's poor record on CN
implementation to date and said that, "though the situation is not
yet desperate, time is not on the right side." He warned that the
Afghan government should not be allowed to use its opium problem to
leverage more financial assistance from donors. Costa also noted
the recent expansion of cannabis production in many parts of the
country could lead to a new record of as much as 70,000 hectares of
cannabis cultivated in 2008.
10. DCM Dell bolstered Costa's remarks by describing the strong
consensus that now exists regarding the insurgency-narcotics nexus
and the need to take decisive action now rather than letting the
problem grow worse. He applauded the Afghan government's commitment
to provide force protection to eradicators in 2008 and welcomed the
Afghan implementation plan's new emphasis on doing CN planning at
the provincial level.

Aid Effectiveness and Support to
Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS)

11. Minister of Finance Ahady provided an economic brief, pointing
out how the GIRoA has improved its financial situation, doubling tax
revenues over the past three years; he noted, however, that the
GIRoA is currently behind its FY 1386 (ending 21 March 2008)
domestic revenue target of $715 million by $30 million, he remained
optimistic that the government could make up the difference and meet
the domestic revenue target. He also asserted that the GIRoA was
improving its ability to spend its budget allocations (mostly
foreign funds), and urged donors to channel more aid through the
Finance Ministry. Implicitly asking for the help of the
International Community, he asserted that the GIRoA is committed to
a market economy, though many Afghans are asking for subsidized food
and fuel. Ahady thanked USAID for providing emergency food aid for
Afghanistan's poor who cannot afford high-priced food.

Task Force on Police Review

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12. Ministry of Interior (MoI) Deputy Minister Daoud reported on
efforts, in cooperation with the Combined Strategic Transition
Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A), to train the Afghan police. He
thanked Germany and the European Union (EU), and singled out the
U.S. Government for special thanks for our aid. Incompetent and
illiterate police officers, including 40 police generals, are being
fired, and new, educated officers are replacing them. However, MoI
lacks sufficient equipment for demining and unexploded ordnance
(UXO) operations.

National Justice Program, Elections, Anti-Corruption
--------------------------------------------- -------

13. Justice Minister Danish reported on efforts to build on the
August 2007 Rome Rule of Law (ROL) conference to improve justice in
Afghanistan through improved infrastructure (courthouses) and the
implementation of new and updated laws. The challenge of the
National Justice Program (NJP) is that poor security hinders justice
delivery, and ROL capacity in the countryside is lacking. He asked
for more funding to carry out the ambitious National Justice Program
goals. The cabinet has approved the draft election law, which is
now before the Parliament, and a joint commission will soon create a
good timeline for elections. The Parliament approved the United
National Convention on Anti-Corruption (UNCAC), and the government
is now preparing a package of bills for the Parliament modifying
existing Afghan legislation to conform to the UNCAC's requirements.
On the Senior Appointments Mechanism, Danish said that the Senior
Appointments Board and its Terms of Reference should be established
soon, and should identify competent candidates for senior positions.

14. Responding to Danish's presentation, Asplund proposed a
discussion in Kabul of the concept that donor countries should pool
their NJP and ROL money into a common fund, rather than having each
country work in different sectors. The EU pointed out that the
GIRoA needs to mainstream human rights protection through passage of
a media law that supports freedom of the media. The European
Commission (EC) threatened to introduce conditionality into the Law
and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) as it feels that police
and ROL reform efforts had been insufficient. Donors requested one
simultaneous election for both president and parliament, which would
be possible if parliament dissolved itself one year earlier than
scheduled, and also asked that political parties be encouraged
rather than hindered. Many donors cited their readiness to provide
immediate funding for voter registration and elections, as soon as
the GIRoA take key actions. Many also supported a census prior to
the election to both support drawing of electoral districts and
assist in delivering Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS)
services, and asked for sufficient funding to hold the census in
August 2008. The U.S. countered that while we supported a census in
principle, undertaking one should not become a reason for delaying
electoral preparations.
15. Responding to the international community's criticisms,
Minister for the Disbanding of Illegally Armed Groups (DIAG)
Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai stated that any cost-benefit study should
balance the efficiency of outside foreign experts performing
government services versus the benefit of Afghans performing them in
a "learning by doing" approach that would build and improve on
capacity in the Afghan Government.

Endorsement of Proposed JCMB VII Actions/Decisions
--------------------------------------------- -----

16. In general, discussion of the proposed JCMB VII "Actions and
Decisions" provoked heated discussion, and also revealed

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considerable pent-up international community frustration with the
seeming unwillingness of the GIRoA to tackle the difficult problems
of corruption and counter-narcotics. Several international
community delegates called for greater "political will and strong
leadership" on corruption and narcotics, a thinly veiled criticism
of President Karzai.

Pillar one - Security

17. The EC representative, Ambassador Kretschmer recommended
language which called on the Interior Ministry to report to
JCMB-VIII on efforts to reduce internal corruption, and to have
salary paid only to police who are actually working. He also
recommended textual changes to approve the Afghan National Army
(ANA) force structure increase of 10,000 (16,000 including the 6,000
person training float), calling for an assessment of fiscal
sustainability of any further force structure increases. These
recommendations were adopted by the JCMB.

Pillar Two - Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights

18. The EC representative also proposed several entirely new
"decisions" and proposed modifying others. For the item on
anti-corruption, he called for "meaningful progress" by the GIRoA on
anti-corruption by JCMB IX (roughly six months from now, in late
summer/early fall of 2008). A proposed eighteen month extension in
the deadline for modifying domestic anti-corruption legislation to
conform to the U.N. Anti-Corruption Convention, was trimmed to a
twelve month extension, which the explicit intention of increasing
pressure on the GIRoA to act promptly on this issue. Implicitly
referring to a recent incident where a journalist has been sentenced
to death for insulting Islam, a new "decision" was adopted calling
on the GIRoA to approve quickly a media law consistent with freedom
of expression enshrined in the Afghan constitution and with the
international conventions to which Afghanistan is a party.

Pillar Three - Economic and Social Development

19. For item 3.1 on energy development, the World Bank proposed an
additional sentence calling on the GIRoA to accelerate restructuring
of the national electricity bureau (DABM) as a publicly-owned
national company with operational independence.

Cross-Cutting Theme One - Counter Narcotics

20. The group rewrote the item on reform of the Counter-Narcotics
Trust Fund (CNTF) to explicitly state that the international
stakeholders are full partners in the process of suggesting CNTF
reform "proposals" to JCMB VIII, and that the GIRoA is not/not
authorized to implement any measures. It also adopted an additional
item calling on the GIRoA to submit to JCMB-VIII an updated report
on measures that it has taken against those Afghan public officials
linked to the narcotics industry and narco-trading.

Cross-cutting Theme Two - Aid Coordination

21. During the discussion, the French Ambassador announced, and the
group welcomed, that the French Government would formally propose to
the GIRoA that it host an international donor's conference in Paris
in June 2008 (likely during the last week of June to allow more time
for preparation.) By the end of the meetings, the GIRoA and the
French Government confirmed the meeting, although the precise date
is yet to be determined.

Closing Remarks

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22. In his closing remarks and implicitly referring to criticisms
of last minute preparations of JCMB documents, which left
delegations little time to study them and refer questions to
capitals, Asplund said that the JCMB Secretariat needs to be
strengthened. This question will be discussed further in Kabul.
Asplund also suggested that JCMB-VIII focus on governance issues,
especially those involving sub-national governance.


23. This JCMB proved to be an action-forcing event that caused the
GIRoA to focus on counter-narcotics (CN) as a key issue, which was
our key objective at this meeting. The GIRoA eventually reconfirmed
the validity of the Policy Action Group's twelve CN action points, a
question on which the GIRoA had been wavering recently, because the
PAG 12 points called for proactive poppy eradication and for ANA
forces under the Ministry of Defense to provide force protection for
poppy eradication workers. But through negotiations the GIRoA
became convinced that it had no choice but to accept these twelve
points. While the adoption of a JCMB discussion paper on
counter-narcotics that is stronger that what we were expecting even
one month ago is a positive achievement, as several delegations
noted, the proof will depend on the GIRoA's implementation in the
poppy fields, and achieving the goal of eradicating 50,000 hectares
of poppy.

24. Also, as the unexpectedly long debate over the "actions and
decisions" shows, the delegates were much less diplomatic at this
JCMB, especially concerning which is perceived as the GIRoA's
continued lack of sufficient action on corruption and
counter-narcotics. Delegates were galled that Afghan government
officials about whom there is credible evidence linking them to
narco-trafficking and corrupt bribe-taking still remain in office.
While the GIRoA ministers attempted to defend the President, their
answers seemed vague and weak.

25. The next JCMB theme of governance highlights what is seen as a
key weakness in the GIRoA's counter-insurgency (COIN) efforts.
While Dr. Popal, the Director of the Independent Directorate of
Local Government (IDLG) has made a good start at improving the
delivery of Afghan Government services to the local level, the JCMB
obviously feels that more needs to be done, and that directing the
GIRoA's attention to this area will have good effects. END COMMENT.


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