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Cablegate: Takhar, Afghanistan: Secure and Stable, but Development

VZCZCXRO8523
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #4171/01 3560620
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220620Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2004
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4326
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 004171

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PHUM AF
SUBJECT: Takhar, Afghanistan: Secure and Stable, but Development
Lacking

1. (SBU) Summary: Takhar province has remained relatively secure and
stable throughout 2007. While there have been rocket and IED
attacks directed against Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the
disruption of an insurgent cell in September 2007 has resulted in a
significant decrease in insurgent activity. Taloqan remains without
electricity, highlighting the greater development challenges it
faces when compared with the neighboring province of Kunduz. The
German government plans to remedy the lack of a permanent
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence in Taloqan
through the expansion of its safe house into a Provincial Advisory
Team (PAT). End Summary.

Security - Lack of an Insurgent Priority?
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) While Kunduz and Takhar provinces have similar populations
(approximately 800,000), the greater geographical dispersion,
distance from the national and other provincial capitals and lack of
infrastructure contribute to the small-town feel of the provincial
capital of Taloqan. Without Afghan governmental regional offices
(with the exception of the 8th Border Police Brigade), a permanent
ISAF presence or a large NGO community, Taloqan has not been a high
priority insurgent target. The large, roughly equal Tajik and Uzbek
populations (40 percent-40 percent), and lack of a sizable Pashtun
presence, contribute to a lack of ethnic strife.

3. (SBU) Over the past year insurgents have targeted the Afghan
National Police (ANP) headquarters and the Kunduz' PRT safe house in
Taloqan with rockets and IEDs. A premature IED detonation in
September 2007 led to the successful disruption of the cell that had
been conducting attacks and distributing propaganda. Since then the
number of attacks has dropped significantly. The Kunduz - Taloqan
road, Takhar and Badakshan's connection with the rest of
Afghanistan, remains an area of concern, especially in the
Kunduz-bordering district of Bangi. There have been IED attacks
against coalition forces in this area, most recently in November
2007. For northeast Afghanistan to reap the benefits of the USG's
$104 million investment in the Keshem - Feyzabad road (expected
completion date November 2009), the road must continue to be
passable and secure. Furthermore, in the upcoming year the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers intends to construct 10 Afghan National
Police checkpoints, which should help improve security in outlying
areas of the province.

4. (SBU) The German government decided in November 2007 to expand
its safe house and create a permanent presence in Taloqan.
Taloqan's distance (75 km) from Kunduz limited the PRT's ability to
engage the Afghan government and contribute to security and
reconstruction in the provincial capital and the surrounding area.
The Taloqan facility will be a dependent office of PRT Kunduz and
will house 40 military and civilian personnel, including
representatives from the German Foreign Ministry and the development
agency. This year brought two new U.S. Army police mentoring teams
for the province that reside in Kunduz. The Afghan Ministry of
Interior intends to merge the 8th Border Police Brigade with that in
Mazar-i-Sharif into a northern Brigade, thereby reducing the ANSF
presence in the province.

No Electricity, Few Internationals, Little Development
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. (SBU) Unlike its neighbor, Taloqan does not have access to
power. Eventually, donors plan to connect Taloqan to the national
grid; however, interim considerations are the renovation and
expansion of the Khanabad hydroelectric plant in Kunduz province or
the construction of mini-hydroelectric facilities closer to
Taloqan.

6. (U) The NGO, German Agro Action, relocated its facilities from
Kunduz to Taloqan, joining a small number of NGOs and IOs operating
in the city. The German-funded and -administered Provincial
Development Fund (PDF) has successfully funded small development
projects and promoted good governance through its approval process.
It is only through the PDF that the Provincial Council has any
budgetary approval role in development.

7. (U) Driven by international donors or money from outside of the

KABUL 00004171 002 OF 002


province, Taloqan lacks the indigenous growth and private sector
activity that one sees in Kunduz. Takhar often piggybacks on Kunduz
development initiatives, for instance Takhar businesses participated
in the Afghan-Tajik trade fair that was held in Kunduz in October
2007. The German PT should increase the reach of German development
euros, Afghan and international awareness, and associated funding,
for the province's challenges.

Governance
----------

8. (SBU) Governor Latif Ibrahimi transferred from Faryab to Takhar
in summer 2007. Despite his experience as governor, or perhaps his
familiarity with its institutional shortcomings, he is slightly
aloof, except when it comes to issues close to his heart (e.g. the
governor's residence). He maintains cordial relations with other
political institutions, such as the Provincial Council; however, has
not yet proven to be an activist governor. The Chief of Police
position has been vacant since October 2007, with Deputy Mahmoodi
currently acting. The Provincial Council has taken an interest in
the German PDF as a vehicle to bring development projects to their
constituencies.

9. (SBU) Comment: Takhar is neither a primary target for insurgents
nor the focus of development activities. Information about the
province is meager when compared with Kunduz, not only due to the
lack of political and economic activity, but also the lack of
permanent ISAF presence. The German PAT should increase both our
engagement with, and knowledge of, Takhar province. End Comment.
WOOD

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