Cablegate: Semi-Annual Assessment for Badghis Province: July -

DE RUEHBUL #0102/01 0121038
R 121038Z JAN 10

Embassy Kabul



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Semi-annual Assessment for Badghis Province: July -
December 2009

REF: (A) Kabul 1345 (B) Kabul 717

1. This is a Semi-annual assessment of Badghis Province.

2. (SBU) Summary. July - December 2009. Security in Badghis
Province continued to deteriorate, as insurgents stepped up attacks
on military convoys on main roads and overran several police
checkpoints. Insurgents control large areas of Bala Murghab, Moqur,
and Qades Districts. ANSF and coalition forces successfully
regained control of the main route to Herat and a projected force
increase should improve the situation in the long-term. Largely
because of the security problems, the provincial government is not
able to operate effectively outside of Qala-e-Now and its immediate
surroundings. Low capacity and corruption further limit the
government's ability to serve the needs of the population. One of
the poorest provinces in Afghanistan, Badghis has development
priorities that include potable water, irrigation, electricity and
roads. There are no asphalted roads in the province, which contains
the longest remaining section of the Ring Road yet to be been
contracted for construction. In the next six months, the PRT's
efforts will focus on improving security and development in Moqur
and Qades districts, which occupy strategic positions close to
Qala-e-Now. End summary.


Small Improvements near Qala-e-Now Offset by Increased Insecurity on

3. (SBU) In the past six months, security in Badghis continued to
deteriorate. ANSF and coalition forces successfully fought back
against increased criminal and insurgent activity in Sabzak Pass,
which lies south of Qala-e-Now on Badghis' primary transportation
link to Herat. The route, which had become unsafe for provincial
government officials to travel, is now back in GIRoA control.
However, this success was offset by increased insecurity on Route
Lithium, which runs from Qala-e-Now through the Sang Atesh area of
Moqur district and up to Bala Murghab. Several police checkpoints
on the route were attacked and overrun, although a police presence
has been reestablished at all but one.

Insurgency Focused in Moqur, Qades and Bala Murghab Districts

4. (SBU) Only a few kilometers from Qala-e-Now, Moqur district is
strategically located in the center of the province. Insurgents
control approximately 50 percent of the district and the resulting
insecurity has spilled over into the northern part of Qades district
and has largely cut off access between Qala-e-Now and the mostly
insurgent-free and pro-GIRoA district of Jawand in the east. Ethnic
tensions between the Pashtun and non-Pashtun communities have fueled
the conflict. In February, a prominent non-Pashtun was assassinated
in Moqur together with some members of his family. Several Pashtuns
were killed in retaliatory attacks, including, in September, a
prominent Pashtun leader. In October, elders from Pashtun and
non-Pashtun communities in Moqur negotiated a settlement agreement.
A new American Forward Operating Base has improved security in the
district center. However, attacks along the route from Qala-e-Now
to the district center increased in November and December.

5. (SBU) Daribum, in northern Qades district, is a center of
insurgent activity and opium growing in the province. Opium
production in Badghis increased by 922% in 2009 over 2008 (from 587
to 5,411 hectares) due in part to favorable weather conditions.
There is no provincial eradication program. In October, a joint
Afghan-American counternarcotics operation destroyed an opium
production facility in Daribum. A helicopter involved in the
operation crashed, killing ten Americans. Although insurgent
activity is concentrated in the north of the district, it
occasionally threatens the district center. In December, insurgents
took control of the town of Langar and its police checkpoint only
seven kilometers north of Qades center. ANSF and local Tajik
militia took back the town the following day.

6. (U) Bala Murghab district in the north remains almost entirely
controlled by the insurgency, other than a small area under GIRoA
and coalition control in Bala Murghab center (see Reftel B). In
November, two American soldiers drowned in the Bala Murghab River.
The operation to recover their bodies provoked attacks by
insurgents. Seven ANSF and approximately ten insurgents died in the
fighting, until a ceasefire was negotiated to permit the search to
continue. The 4/82nd and the PRT are supporting several
reconstruction and development projects in the district center.

Increased Security Forces Offer Long-Term Hope

KABUL 00000102 002 OF 004

7. (SBU) The imminent arrival of additional ANSF and coalition
forces should have a positive impact on security. In December, U.S.
Special Forces began deployment of a Marine Special Operations
Command unit in Bala Murghab. Also in December, Spain announced
that it would send an additional 500 troops to Afghanistan, most of
who will be positioned in Badghis. Although plans are not yet
final, it is expected that the additional troops will likely train
and mentor ANSF as their primary mission. An additional ANA brigade
may also be assigned to the province. A Focused District
Development (FDD) training program for ANP is underway for Moqur
district and is scheduled for Qala-e-Naw and Qades. The Badghis ANP
Chief, General Sami, plans to undertake additional hiring campaigns
to support the FDD programs once the current ANP hiring freeze is

Corrupt and Untrained, Provincial Government Doesn't Deliver

8. (SBU) Governance in Badghis is hampered by corruption and a
lack of capable personnel. There is no university or higher
education in the province, with the exception of a teacher's
training college. Badghis' isolation and poverty make it difficult
to attract qualified staff from outside. The provincial government
is dominated almost completely by non-Pashtuns primarily from
Qala-e-Now, Ab Kamari and Qadis districts, where there is a longer
tradition of education and governance. The lack of Pashtuns in the
government reduces its effectiveness and outreach in insecure
districts such as Bala Murghab and Moqur, where there are large
Pashtun populations. An important positive step for governance has
been the opening of a Civil Service Training Center in Badghis from
a partnership between the Afghanistan Independent Administrative
Reform and Civil Service Commission, USAID and the Spanish
development agency, AECID. Now conducting its second six-month
training course, the Center will have trained 240 students from a
variety of provincial directorates in basic English, computer usage
and management.

9. (SBU) In July 2009, a case initiated by the Anti-Corruption
Unit of the Attorney General's Office involving corruption charges
against former Governor Naseri and 15 other individuals (see Reftel
A) was suspended apparently for political motives. However, the
Attorney General continues to pursue the case in Kabul, including
bringing Governor Nasery in for questioning in December. In October
2009, UNAMA received reliable reports that the provincial
prosecutor's office and the chief of the provincial court were
colluding to dismiss the charges entirely. Although Naseri was
recently questioned by the Afghan Attorney General's office, most
people in Badghis believe that political pressure from President
Karzai will sink the case.

10. (U) The Provincial Court was recently strengthened by the
assignment of ten new judges. However, due to the security
situation, there are no judges working in Bala Murghab and only a
part-time judge assigned to Moqur. Two judges assigned to work in
Qades district have refused to go to the district, citing
insecurity. The Chief of the Provincial Court has requested that
the Supreme Court assign another, more experienced judge to the

Mixed Leadership at the Top

11. (SBU) Governor Delbar Jan Arman was transferred to Badghis in
March 2009. He has shown himself to be an active leader, visiting
more districts than his predecessor and reaching out to local
leaders to resolve issues. Arman, a Pashtun from Khost, was
involved in the successful reconciliation efforts between the Tajik
and Pashtun communities in Moqur district. The sub-governor, Amir
Ghani Saberi, is a Tajik from the Qadis district. Well-connected in
the province, he is willing to visit districts and increase
government visibility. However, his strong local ties limit his
ability to serve as a neutral arbiter in ethnic disputes.

12. (SBU) The former Provincial Council was largely inactive. All
but three failed to win reelection in August 2009. The new Council,
not yet sworn in, has no Pashtun members even though Pashtuns
comprise about 40% of the population. (A Pashtun came in second in
the preliminary results; however, many of the votes he received were
later disqualified for fraud.) Four of the nine council members
hail from Jawand district, although the population of that district
is only one-sixth of the population of Badghis.

13. (SBU) In the presidential elections, Dr. Abdullah carried
Badghis province by more than two-to-one over President Karzai. In
the predominantly non-Pashtun districts of Qala-e-Naw, Qadis, Ab

KABUL 00000102 003 OF 004

Kamari and Jawand, voters cast their ballots in overwhelming numbers
for Dr. Abdullah. In ethnically-divided Moqur district, the turnout
was low and a majority of those participating voted for President
Karzai. Only eight polling centers opened in Bala Murghab, where
Karzai won overwhelmingly. The number of votes cast in Bala Murghab
did not square with the State PRT representatives on-the-ground
observations, suggesting ballot box stuffing may have occurred. The
complete lack of national or international observers in Jawand,
coupled with the lack of ANSF personnel at many of its 37 polling
centers, also made those results suspect. The IEC recounted 13
ballot boxes from Bala Murghab, Ab Kamari, Jawand and Qades,
resulting in changes to the final tally, including the elimination
of one Provincial Council candidate from the list of winners.


14. (U) One of the poorest provinces in Afghanistan, Badghis has
development priorities that include potable water, water storage and
irrigation systems, electricity and completion of the Ring Road.
Although the Bala Murghab district in the north is supplied year
round with water from the Bala Murghab River, the south of the
province suffers from a shortage of water and has limited
infrastructure to collect rain and snowmelt for use in the arid
summer months. Qala-e-Now city and Jawand center are the only two
places in Badghis with an electricity grid. Electricity in
Qala-e-Now is supplied by diesel generators. The Asian Development
Bank is currently considering funding a proposal to build a
30-kilometer electrical transmission line from Turkmenistan to
Qala-e-Now; however, the high cost of the project versus the small
number of people benefited may make it unfeasible.

15. (SBU) Completing the Ring Road is critical to the economic
development and security of Badghis and has implications for
inter-regional trade. Construction in the north reaching to Bala
Murghab stalled in the Gormach district of Faryab (formerly a
district of Badghis) due to security problems. In early November,
the Asian Development Bank (ADB) fired the contractor for
nonperformance. The longest stretch of the Ring Road in the
province, from south of Qala-e-Now to Bala Murghab, has yet to be
contracted for construction. The proposed route would run through
the Bala Murghab valley, where most of the population lives but
which is largely insurgent-controlled. The ADB is discussing with
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) the possibility of sole
sourcing the construction of this last stretch (as well as the
uncompleted portion in Faryab). The ADB/USACE project is estimated
to cost approximately $340 million and may take up to four years to
complete, given the rough terrain and security problems along much
of the route.

16. (U) USAID's Local Government and Community Development (LGCD)
program began operations in the province in November. The
implementer, DAI, has already established an office in Qala-e-Now
and is identifying projects in Moqur, Qades and Bala Murghab
districts. USAID has also increased its programming presence in
Badghis over the past six months, starting major wheat seed
distribution, agricultural supply-chain improvements, large-scale
cash-for-work programs and instituting the Afghan Civilian
Assistance Program (Leahy Program). These programs will continue
well into this year, with a special emphasis on Muqor and Qades
RHTQwsQfjQQQocuments to al-Hol, and we have advocated for
them to be left alone pending another option like
resettlement, Dubini explained.

6. (C) Vice Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad praised the
closure of al-Tanf camp in a January 9 meeting with Staffdel
Marcus (reftel), and told us he was supportive of efforts to
resettle the Palestinian refugees to third countries.
However, he said the SARG was wary of Iraqi Palestinian
refugees who had blended into cities like Damascus. Miqdad
related that the SARG must be careful not to appear too
welcoming of the remaining Iraqi Palestinians in Syria for
fear of attracting Palestinians still living in Baghdad.
There are over 10,000 Palestinians still sitting in Baghdad,
and they are watching to see what we do, he said. Having
successfully closed al-Tanf, Miqdad added the SARG did not
want to do anything that might attract additional Palestinian

7. (C) Miqdad stressed the SARG is not interested in another
wave of Palestinian refugees from Iraq given the nearly
500,000 Palestinian refugees already living in Syria. He
added, however, that the SARG would not force them back and
would seek a humanitarian solution. Miqdad harshly
criticized the Iraqi government for not doing enough to
assist Iraqi refugees, and stated the SARG is waiting for
upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections to send a big signal
that change and reconciliation would come to Iraq, allowing

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presence. The PRT's strategy for the medium-term focuses on the
Moqur and Qades districts, bringing quick impact projects
(particularly through the LGCD program) and identifying more
long-term development opportunities. In addition, the PRT is
working with the ANSF to reinforce security outposts in key sites,
such as Langar in Qades district. Increased government services and
better security in these ethnically-mixed districts can offer their
Pashtun communities a viable alternative to the Taliban. A
long-term objective is to pursue development and governance projects
in Bala Murghab district as the security situation there stabilizes.
However, presently there are insufficient security forces in the
province to control this isolated valley. End Comment.

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