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Cablegate: Atta Raises Specter of Insecurity in North

VZCZCXRO8799
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2785 2921158
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181158Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5872
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0303
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 KABUL 002785

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ETRD EFIN SNAR AF TI

SUBJECT: ATTA RAISES SPECTER OF INSECURITY IN NORTH

1. (U) Summary: In his remarks at an International Peace Day event,
Balkh Governor Atta Mohammed Noor predicted greater insecurity in
the northern provinces within a year's time if the north does not
receive its share of development projects and if there continues to
be what he deems a lack of coordination between coalition forces and
Afghan authorities resulting in civilian deaths. Atta also
criticized attempts by the international community (IC) to pressure
the GIRoA to name major Afghan drug traffickers, and challenged the
IC to clean up its own drug trafficking problems first. End
summary.

2. (SBU) Atta cited three factors contributing to the lack of peace
in Afghanistan: Pakistani interference, drug trafficking, and
civilian casualties caused by the failure of ISAF to coordinate
operations with Afghan authorities. He demurred on commenting more
on Pakistan out of concern that it might run contrary to GIRoA
policy, but was energized over the issue of drug trafficking,
calling it a "black business" that some are using to exacerbate
tensions and violence in the country. Atta quickly deflected the
argument that the GIRoA hasn't come forward with names of key drug
traffickers as demanded by the IC, asking why the West isn't doing
more to stop narcotics trafficking in their own countries. (Note:
Atta was referring to the "list" of drug traffickers that former
Interior Minister Jalali claimed to have. Some believe that Atta
himself might be one of the drug traffickers named in that list. )

3. (U) Citing Balkh's successful poppy eradication campaign, Atta
chided the IC for its "empty promises" of implementing alternative
livelihood schemes, reminding the audience that the people of Balkh
have not received any development projects in return for their
economic sacrifices. He rhetorically asked the audience of
businessmen, government officials and young people how a province
like Helmand with a huge poppy problem could reap $400 million in
development projects and a poppy-free province like Balkh receives
less than $4 million in projects.

4. (U) The lack of operational coordination by coalition forces
amounts to no less than a violation of the Afghan constitution, Atta
charged, adding that he was glad PRT and ISAF representatives were
in the audience to hear him say this. He warned that mounting
civilian casualties which resulted from operations conducted on the
basis of bad information are a "ticking time bomb" that could drive
Afghans away from ISAF. Atta said he stressed to President Karzai
the need for a joint information unit comprised of ISAF, ANA, ANP,
and NDS to collect and analyze intelligence.

5. (SBU) Atta's sobering assessment of the prospects for greater
insecurity in the north reflects his frustration with the
development disparity between north and south. Though it is not the
first time he has made such comments publicly, Atta delivered the
message more forcefully this time, speaking without notes for
almost 20 minutes before reading prepared remarks. It is not just
Atta saying this: we have heard this message from local religious
leaders, district officials, and elders. Atta acknowledged to
Poloff at the PRT's Iftaar dinner that Balkh residents blame not
just Karzai for the lack of development results - they blame him
too. Heading into an election year, Atta knows that delivering
results is important to maintaining his influence in the north
regardless of what happens to Karzai. Atta's message is a clear
reminder that while the north is the most permissive environment in
the country for development, it is a long way from being called a
sustained success story by any standard.

WOOD

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