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Cablegate: Farah: Security Worsens, Governance Improves

VZCZCXRO5212
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2229/01 2340246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210246Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5189
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002229

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER ECON AF
SUBJECT: FARAH: SECURITY WORSENS, GOVERNANCE IMPROVES

1. (SBU) Summary: Roohul Amin became Farah's governor on May 4, and
is working closely with provincial officials, elders and the
international community, but is struggling with ongoing insecurity.
Amin's efforts to tackle corruption have produced some positive
results. His efforts to secure Farah have not been as successful;
security is worsening as insurgents turn to indirect attacks against
security forces. Despite this poor security environment,
development projects in Farah have found new purchase. Recognizing
this trend, Governor Amin has successfully negotiated for additional
projects and money. Internationals and Afghans alike see Amin as a
powerful force for good, but fear continued insecurity in Farah
could jeopardize his efforts.

New Governor is a Big Improvement
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) Newly appointed Farah Governor Roohul Amin's extensive
experience as Deputy Director of the Welfare Association for the
Development of Afghanistan (WADAN), an Afghan NGO, has guided his
approach to difficult issues facing Farah. Farah residents have
received his outreach to the general population and business
community well. Since his appointment, Amin has met with the
Provincial Council (PC), ministry line directors, district
administrators, elders and the Provincial Reconstruction Team, and
has prioritized Farah's needs.

3. (SBU) Amin has worked on tackling corruption in Farah.
Originally from Kunduz, Amin touts his lack of ties in Farah, saying
his origin shields him from local manipulation. He hopes to prevent
perceptions of bias from developing by continuing the previous
governor's custom of not visiting businessmen or officials in their
private homes. Amin's efforts have begun to pay dividends; during
his three months in office, Amin increased customs revenue deposits
from 2 million Afghanis (USD 40,000) to 10 million Afghanis (USD
200,000). He remains cautious, however, about rooting out
corruption and probing Iran's influence among his staff and
influential figures in Farah. For example, Amin has hinted to the
PRT that Police Chief Colonel Khalil may be out of favor with the
Ministry of Interior due to corruption, but has not taken direct
action against Khalil.

4. (SBU) Amin has sought to bolster security in Farah by reaching
out to interlocutors throughout the province. He has been willing
to meet with anyone who visits his offices, including elders who may
be aligned with insurgents and support poppy cultivation. Amin's
outreach has gained him allies, but controlling Farah's security
remains beyond his reach. Amin is still unable to travel outside of
the capital due to ongoing threats and violence.

Security: Increased Indirect Attacks
------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Security in Farah is worsening, and there are some
districts the PRT can no longer visit. Insurgents reacted against
the arrival of the 2/7 Marines, stepping up their attacks against
Afghan and Coalition Forces. The Marines and a more robust ANA and
ANP have, in turn, inflicted some significant defeats on the
insurgency. During fighting between a combined ANA/ANP force and
Taliban elements in Bala Baluk district of central Farah, Afghan
forces killed several Taliban commanders. Broadly, insurgents have
refrained from direct engagement with Afghan forces supported by
Marines in Delaram, Bakwa and Gulistan, but have sustained direct
engagements with the ANA and ANP in the Khaki Safed, Pusht Rud and
Farah districts.

Development: New Projects Abound
--------------------------------

6. (SBU) The arrival of USAID's implementing partner, ARD, has
brought renewed emphasis on development. ARD and USAID have begun
an ambitious 100-day "cash for work" program coupled to long-term
development projects. The Ministry for Women's Affairs, Ministry of
Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Department of
Agriculture, and NGOs are implementing projects in Farah, Pusht Rud,
and Khaki Safed districts. USAID is also implementing a Local
Governance and Community Development (LGCD) program focused on Lash
wa Juwayn, Dilaram, Bakwa, Bala Baluk, and Pur Chaman districts.
Governor Amin enthusiastically supports these new initiatives and
has been at the forefront of ensuring community and government

KABUL 00002229 002 OF 002


participation. He has also traveled to Kabul to meet with
ministries, NGOs and embassies to mobilize additional funds.

Farah's Future
--------------

7. (SBU) Amin has become an effective lobbyist for government and
international assistance. The Governor's recent trip to Kabul
resulted in impressive line ministry pledges focused on improving
power and water infrastructure in the city of Farah and then
throughout the province. He obtained a USD one million pledge from
the Ministry of Power and Water for the construction and
installation of sub-stations, transformers, electrical power lines
and light poles. Amin also secured a 500kva generator to back up
the system and a pledge of USD 4.5 million to survey Farah city and
improve its street network. Finally, at a disaster preparedness
conference in Herat, Amin negotiated for 4780 metric tons of World
Food Program wheat, which is already in Farah city warehouses and
set for distribution to locals should food become scarce.

8. (SBU) Comment: Despite Amin's short tenure and struggles with
insecurity, international and Afghan officials believe him an
influential and positive force worthy of additional support. Amin's
effort to root out corrupt and ineffective officials, albeit in a
somewhat limited fashion, is a positive sign. The worsening
security situation, however, could threaten Amin's efforts to move
the province towards social and economic normalization.

WOOD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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