Cablegate: Prt Mazar: Samangan Province Assessment
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #2774/01 2560451
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130451Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1420
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 002774
DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: PRT MAZAR: SAMANGAN PROVINCE ASSESSMENT
1. This is a bi-annual assessment of Samangan Province.
2. SUMMARY: Security throughout Samangan province has remained
mostly stable over the past year, but insurgents operating in
neighboring Baghlan province are trying to undo that. Governor
Enayat, considered by his detractors to be a weak governor,
strengthened his hand by not succumbing to their demands for his
resignation. The Provincial Council, led by a chairman who has cast
his lot with MP Ahmad Khan, has done a poor job representing the
people. There is better news on the development front, with the
launch of new electricity and road projects that will improve the
lives of and create economic opportunities for Samangan residents.
The US should fund a major potable water infrastructure project and
a municipal strengthening program that would benefit residents of
Aybak and Khuram Wa Sarbagh districts. END SUMMARY.
Mostly calm, but insurgent threat increasing.
3. Samangan remains a relatively secure province, but there have
been troubling indications over the past few months that that could
be changing. The Swedish-led PRT's Samangan analyst reports there
have been 19 significant security incidents, involving IED finds and
attacks on police checkposts), from the beginning of 2009 through
August 8, whereas there were only 15 such incidents recorded for all
of 2008. The Samangan National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief
points to an increased threat to Samangan from insurgents operating
over the border in Baghlan province, in areas where Hungarian-led
PRT forces are not patrolling. Samangan Provincial Governor Enayat
has complained that his administration was kept in the dark about a
joint ISAF/ANA clearing operation in Baghlan in June until it was
too late to deploy Samangan Afghan National Police (ANP) units to
strategic positions along the province's eastern border.
4. Most of the security incidents have occurred in Aybak and
Hazrat-e-Sultan districts, in areas where there are Pashtun
populations. Insurgents have on occasion launched rocket attacks
against an ANP checkpoint along the ring road in Hazrat-e-Sultan,
but those have not led to ANP casualties. In April, a young boy was
killed when the explosives-laden wheelbarrow that insurgents paid
him to push was detonated outside the provincial governor's office.
In early July, an ANP soldier was shot dead at a checkpoint in Aybak
city - the provincial center - by an unknown assailant. And in late
July, in the only reported significant security incident outside of
Aybak and Hazrat-e-Sultan, a vehicle belonging to a National
Solidarity Program implementing partner struck an IED in Rui do Ab
district, wounding its driver.
Election passes without incident
5. The Provincial Independent Election Commission (IEC) chief
reported no security-related problems at any of the voting centers
in the province before, during, or after the election. Due to its
low numbers, the Samangan ANP was unable to provide security escorts
to provincial council candidates. A company of 120 Afghan army
soldiers arrived in August to provide election security.
Bad cop, good cop?
6. Former Samangan police chief Serafudin was removed in May
following a physical altercation between one of his ANP soldiers and
a Member of Parliament. Although respected by the governor as a
hands-on police chief, Serafudin was regarded as corrupt and
unprofessional by Finnish police liaison officers, who welcomed the
move. His replacement, a former ANP zone commander in Kabul, who
took up his new post in late July, brings a similar hands-on
approach to the job, and is thought highly of by the governor.
OCCP running; FDD a long way off
7. Samangan's Operations Coordination Center (OCC-P) became
operational in late July, and is almost fully staffed. U.S.-funded
MPRI trainers who trained the OCC-P staff report that the ANP, ANA,
and NDS officials are working well together. U.S. military mentors
arrived in July to mentor Samangan's OCC-P staff. There is no talk
of launching Focused District Development (FDD) of the Samangan
police anytime soon.
Fortunes improve for Provincial Governor
8. Provincial Governor Enayat has weathered a difficult past few
months in office mostly due to one man: Ahmad Khan. Khan, a former
Pashtun warlord who is now a Member of Parliament, wants to maintain
influence in the province and to ensure that Enayat does nothing to
upset that. According to the G2 office of the Swedish PRT, Khan is
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believed to be behind criminal gangs responsible for kidnappings and
drug smuggling in the province. Provincial Council Chairman Haji
Serajuddin has sided with Khan in blasting Enayat as an ineffective
governor. Tensions peaked last April following the controversial
appointment of a new district governor - backed by the Jamist Party
- in Lower Dari Suf district. Khan, who leads an ethnic Uzbek
Junbesh Party faction, blamed Enayat for facilitating the
appointment of a Jamiat Party member in Khan's area of influence.
With the support of PC chairman Serajudin and other MPs from
Samangan, Khan mobilized a few thousand demonstrators to demand
Enayat's resignation. The protest fizzled out after a few days,
resulting in a loss of face for Khan that he has had a hard time
accepting. It has given Enayat, who has often said that he would
rather step down and move back to his native Faryab than continue
working as Samangan's governor, if President Karzai were to allow
him to do so, a much needed boost to his standing among local
residents and to his own confidence. (NOTE: Enayat and his wife
consider themselves to be close to President Karzai and his wife.
END NOTE) But it has also exposed the frail ties between Enayat and
his deputy governor, who at the height of the protest, fled to his
home in Baghlan, leaving the governor to fend for himself.
Moribund Provincial Council
9. The Provincial Council (PC) revolves around its chairman, Haji
Serajuddin, and is overall a weak and ineffective body. Relations
between him and Enayat remain poor. Following the failed protest,
the PC is effectively moribund. Since then, neither Serajuddin nor
any other PC member has set foot in the governor's office or has
attended provincial development committee meetings, according to
Enayat and the Director of Economy. The 2009 Provincial Council
candidate slate included several nominees who did not first consult
with Ahmad Khan before deciding to run. According to Governor
Enayat, during the Provincial Council elections five years ago,
candidates had to seek Khan's permission to run for office.
10. Samangan was declared a poppy free province again in 2008, and
qualified for another $1 million in Good Performers Initiative (GPI)
projects. In mid-July, the Minister of Counter Narcotics visited
Samangan where he announced that the province would again receive
another $1 million in GPI projects for 2009.
Mixed bag on governance; Rui do Ab the worst performer
11. By the governor's own assessment, district governors in Firuz
Nakhchir, and Upper and Lower Dari Suf are performing well, but the
same is not to be said of their counterparts in Rui do Ab, Khuram Wa
Sarbagh, and Hazrat-e-Sultan districts. For example, Rui do Ab
district governor Azizullah, who was a district official under the
Taliban, is a poster boy for bad governance, and is alleged to be
involved in weapons smuggling to Baghlan and Bamian provinces. The
Samangan provincial prosecutor attests to Azizullah's criminal
behavior but is afraid to take measures against him over concerns of
triggering revenge from members of Azizullah's network. The Rui do
Ab police chief has told PRT officials that some of his men are more
loyal to Azizullah than to the Afghan government. Governor Enayat
would like to change Azizullah, but has not pressed this point too
hard with the Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG)
probably because Azizullah - like Enayat - also harbors disdain for
MP Ahmad Khan.
12. Rui Do Ab, Firuz Nakhchir and Khoram wa Sarbagh districts have
undergone the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) process and
have been declared DIAG compliant. DIAG implementation is to start
in Hazrat-i-Sultan district later this year, but other districts in
the province have yet to be targeted.
Power grid extends to Aybak, reduces costs for consumers.
13. Samangan's Provincial Development Committee (PDC) is still
putting the final touches on its one-year (2009) and five-year
(2009-2013) provincial development plans (PDP). After several
fruitless trips to Kabul, Governor Enayat finally succeeded at
getting the central government to provide electricity to Aybak. Up
until June 2009, Samangan was not on the power grid and was forced
to rely solely on sporadic generator-powered electricity. The
Minister of Energy announced the extension of a power line from
Baghlan province to Aybak city that now provides residents with 24/7
electricity and sharply reduces consumption charges from 26 afghanis
per kilowatt (fifty cents) to 4 afghanis per kilowatt (six cents).
This deliverable has helped Governor Enayat beat back the oft-cited
claims of MP Khan and PC Chairman Seraj that he has not brought
significant development to the province. Construction of a 220 KW
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power substation in Aybak is also envisioned; that will provide
enough electricity to residents living within a five kilometer
radius of Aybak city. However, the Director of Rural Reconstruction
and Development (RRD) is not certain that plan will be realized.
Mazar City - Lower Dari Suf road construction underway
14. Construction of a 144-kilometer-long asphalt road from Lower
Dari Suf district to Mazar-e-Sharif city in Balkh province is
running several months behind schedule. Once completed (now
previewed for the end of 2010), the $7.25 million road project will
foster commerce by allowing farmers and merchants in rural
communities to get their agricultural goods to Mazar and other
markets much more quickly. However, the Samangan RRD director had
argued that priority should have been given to the asphalting of the
road between provincial center Aybak and Lower Dari Suf district.
He said that the voices of "powerful people" - a reference to Balkh
Governor Atta and others - carried the day in deciding to pave the
Mazar city-Lower Dari Suf route.
Water woes and a proposal to address them
15. Lack of potable water in Aybak is another acute problem.
According to the RRD director, wells must be dug to a depth of 400
meters to ensure ample quantities of water yearlong. Only one such
well exists in all of Samangan, and digging more of them is not a
long term solution. What the RRD director and other engineers view
as the long term solution to Aybak's water shortage is the
construction of a 34-kilometer-long, gravity-fed water system that
would deliver potable spring water from Khuram Wa Sarbagh district
to 150,000 beneficiaries in Aybak. The RRD estimates the cost of
this project at $14 million, but it only has $4 million of its own
money to apply toward it.
Lucrative coal mines in need of privatization
16. Upper Dari Suf and Rui do Ab districts are home to significant
coal deposits, which are mined by wildcat miners, who, after paying
a modest registration fee, are able to mine and sell as much coal as
they can. Buyers pay tax to the Ministry of Mines based on the net
weight of the mined coal. Coal smuggling is commonplace, as are
fatalities from mining injuries. Safety regulations are
nonexistent. The Ministry of Mines has contracted the mine in Rui
do Ab to a private firm and wants to do the same for the mine in
Upper Dari Suf.
USG development assistance
17. USAID is moving forward with plans to build a 50-bed maternity
hospital in Aybak city and, potentially, a district center in Rui do
Ab. Its new agriculture project, IDEA NEW, has begun training
farmers in melon fly preventive measures and has been surveying
agricultural depots in Samangan. In October 2009, USAID is expected
to launch the Performance Based Governor's Fund (PBGF), in
partnership with other donors. This will enable Governor Enayat to
meet operational and community outreach needs (i.e. vehicle
maintenance, shura-related expenditures) which, in turn, will allow
him to be more responsive to the concerns of Samangan residents.
Swedish and Finnish reconstruction efforts
18. Through the PRT, the Finnish government is spending one million
euros to build police stations in Firuz Nakhchir district center and
in Robotak village of Khoram Wa Sarbagh district, near the
provincial border with Baghlan. Finnish money is also being used to
support police literacy training. Finland recently announced that
later this year, it will launch a three-year-long, rule-of-law
training program that will cycle-through Afghan prosecutors from the
northern region and Kabul. Swedish development agency SIDA is
funding the construction of a physiotherapist clinic in Aybak and
two primary schools in Lower Dari Suf and Hazrat-e-Sultan districts,
as well as the rehabilitation of a 50-kilometer stretch of road in
Rui do Ab district.
NSP projects completed except in Aybak
19. National Solidarity Program (NSP) projects have been completed
throughout Khuram Wa Sarbagh, Hazrat-e-Sultan, and Firuz Nakhchir
districts. Other districts will wrap up their projects in August.
NSP has not been launched in Aybak city, where community development
councils still have not been formed.
20. Samangan's relatively good security belies its vulnerable
position next to Baghlan province, where security continues to
deteriorate. To this end, fast-tracking FDD training of the ANP in
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the border districts of Khuram Wa Sarbagh, Aybak, and
Hazrat-e-Sultan, through which the ring road passes, is warranted.
MP Ahmad Khan will continue to look for opportunities to reassert
his strongman presence and to undermine Governor Enayat's authority.
The Provincial Council needs new leadership to reset its
relationship with the governor lest it continue to sideline itself
from playing the advisory role that it should.
21. The establishment of our consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif will raise
the expectations of northern residents for more USG-funded
development projects in the region. Water should be one of our
focus areas. As part of its nationwide Sustainable Water Supply and
Sanitation Project (SWSS), or barring that, through another suitable
initiative, PRT Mazar believes USG development assistance should
support construction of the $14 million water-pipe scheme that would
put an end to Aybak's and the surrounding area's water woes. U.S.
backing of that water project could help ensure that patients and
staff at the maternity hospital we are building and the 300,000
resident beneficiaries of the surrounding area have a permanent,
potable water supply. We need to think beyond water, though, and
should also implement a dedicated municipal strengthening program -
covering such areas as trash collection, street maintenance,
financial management - for Aybak city just as we have done for a
number of municipalities in the South and East. The new PBGF
program should reduce Governor Enayat's need to request assistance
for small expenditures from the PRT and international donors and
should increase his responsiveness to residents of his province.