Saturday, 21 April 2018

How economic growth can help defeat terrorism in Afghanistan

Syria, North Korea, and Yemen have largely dominated headlines. But Afghanistan also remains in the global conscience. If anything, the much-needed international focus on the campaign against the Taliban has outlined how difficult the fight has become, despite our steady military gains.  Frustrated with what many are mistakenly calling a quagmire, international commentators either advocate for a quick-fix peace deal to withdraw from Afghanistan or engaging in a more intense military campaign. The latter is an understandable response, but even so, it is far from a complete remedy. The war in Afghanistan is not being waged on the battlefield alone: If we are to emerge as a strong and independent democracy, the campaign for Afghanistan’s economy must stand on equal footing with the counter-terrorism campaign. In fact, they are one and the same. We can’t build schools during firefights; but without schools, the firefights will continue. Yet a disproportionate amount of international resources — provided by each contributing country — have been devoted to military operations at the cost of job creation and long-term economic development. But it is more jobs — not just more bullets — that will help persuade militant fighters to lay down their weapons. Fortunately, Afghanistan is endowed with natural resources — copper, iron ore, lithium, and other precious minerals — and can largely finance its own development, though only if the country receives the necessary investment and technical assistance from the international community. Although Afghanistan has some $3 trillion worth of minerals, we lack the required transportation network to export these resources. Building the necessary infrastructure — railroads, highways, processing plants — will not only facilitate the mining industry but also create jobs. A sustainable livelihood, no matter how small, will immediately weaken the insurgency and its base, a destitute populace, while a modern transportation network that links Afghanistan with its neighbors will spur long-term growth. Drug production in Afghanistan is another key problem that can be addressed by economic development. We know from international experience that global demand for narcotics finds ready supply in nations where governance is weak, instability high and poverty rampant. But if Afghanistan’s agriculture sector is thoroughly revitalized, fewer farmers will rely on opium harvesting — a dangerous enterprise to begin with — to make a living. Instead, they could grow wheat, pomegranates, saffron and other high-value crops. As agribusiness becomes profitable and sustainable, it will drive down the cost of food for Afghanistan’s poor and raise rural incomes, which should in turn further weaken the insurgency in crucial provinces like Helmand and Kandahar. Energy is another factor pivotal to earning the trust of Afghans. Without a comprehensive electricity grid, Afghanistan can hardly achieve a productive economy. The availability of electricity can open an incredibly large market for electronic goods, drastically expanding consumer consumption. Just as importantly, the Afghan people could finally reap the benefits of a globalized world through use of the Internet, to which less than 15 percent the population currently has access. Further, corruption can be stemmed when the abuse of power is no longer necessary as a means of economic uplift. Corruption is a symptom, not a cause, of weak governance, which can only be strengthened when Afghan civil servants are adequately trained and paid competitive salaries on a sustainable basis. Right now, a driver at an international NGO or a United Nations agency earns at least five times more than a civil servant working for the Afghan government. Nor can this situation be improved unless more resources are channeled away from aid organizations into the Afghan national budget as an efficient mechanism of resource allocation. John Bolton, now U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, once argued that “religious fanatics, and their grievances, do not arise from poverty or deprivation.” To the contrary, many Taliban fighters join the insurgency simply to earn a living. A significant number of these “rented” Taliban can be made to turn swords into plowshares if they are given alternative opportunities. International security is closely tied to the nascent Afghan economy. Without stability, the Taliban will continue to enjoy widespread support — and a base from which to attack international interests. If we rely on military might alone, how will the outcome in Afghanistan differ from that of US forces in Vietnam, the French in Algeria, or the Soviets in Afghanistan? Militaries alone simply cannot defeat insurgencies. However, the good news is that Afghanistan has quickly recovered from an economic depression, which followed the withdrawal of international forces from the country in 2014. Thanks to the austere economic reforms introduced by President Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan economy is being transformed, as unprecedented economic legislation has been passed opening opportunities across new sectors and reducing bureaucratic bottlenecks that encourages regional and global businesses to invest in Afghanistan’s virgin markets.
Consequently, this year alone, Afghanistan has so far signed more than $500 million in investment contacts. It is estimated that the country will see a boost in its GDP growth from 2.5 to 4 percent in the coming years. To reinforce Afghanistan’s peace and war-fighting efforts, regional and global stakeholders should channel more of their aid resources to build on the Afghan economic recovery, helping the country create more new jobs for its youthful population. Doing so will effectively deny regional and transnational terrorist networks the opportunity to exploit Afghanistan’s rife poverty in order to continue to fuel their terror campaign in the country and the world over.
Written by M. Ashraf Haidari @ HeartOfAsia

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Россия и Индия разделяют схожие представления о будущем ИРА

Россия и Индия разделяют схожие представления о будущем Афганистана, заявил посол РФ в Индии Николай Кудашев. "В целом, Россия и Индия имеют схожие представления о том, каким мы хотим видеть Афганистан: стабильным, независимым, мирным, демократичным, процветающим, дружелюбным по отношению к соседям, суверенным и хорошо интегрированным в региональную экономическую систему", — сказал Кудашев, выступая с лекцией в Нью-Дели. При этом посол отметил, что результаты продолжающегося на протяжении многих лет иностранного военного присутствия нельзя охарактеризовать как успешные в какой-либо форме. "Это также можно сказать и про большинство форматов межафганского урегулирования", — заявил российский дипломат, подчеркнув, что идея о возможном военном решении сложившихся в этой стране проблем «находится в отрыве от исторического опыта и реалий сегодняшнего дня». "Борьба с терроризмом в Афганистане требует всеобъемлющего подхода и должна, прежде всего, включать в себя решительные меры по эффективному противодействию культивированию опиумного мака. Эта составляющая, в действительности, отсутствует в «новой стратегии» США ... >>> Полную версию публикации читайте здесь 

RaiNews24 in Afghanistan

L’inviato di RaiNews24 Ettore Guastalla ha trascorso una settimana in Afghanistan a seguito del contingente italiano che opera nell’ambito della missione Nato “Resolute Support”.
Nella “zona verde” di Kabul ha incontrato l’Ambasciatore italiano Roberto Cantone, discutendo della situazione di sicurezza e dei recenti attacchi condotti da talebani e Isis (qui il video). È poi entrato nel quartier generale della missione internazionale, dove operano anche i nostri militari e dove ha incontrato il Generale Antonio Bettelli (qui il video). Il giornalista Rai ha poi trascorso la Pasqua ad Herat dove è attualmente dispiegata la Brigata Sassari nell’ambito delle operazioni di supporto e assistenza all’esercito afghano (qui il video). Sempre ad Herat RaiNews24 ha descritto le attività dei militari italiani per contrastare gli ordigni esplosivi improvvisati (qui il video).

Afghanistan: Salt extraction contract cancelled after uranium and lithium have been discovered at the same mine

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum of Afghanistan on Monday 1 April 2018 said they have terminated the extraction contract of Herat’s Ghoryan salt mine signed with a private company two months ago following the discovery of minerals including lithium and uranium.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Mines, Abdul Qadir Mutfi, said their recent studies showed that these minerals are present at the mine. As such they have terminated the contract with the contractor, he said.

Ghoryan salt mine is the only mining contract to have been signed by the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG).

“This was a small contract and was contracted as a pilot extraction, but we are trying to ensure the country's mines are extracted based on the country's needs,” Mutfi said.


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

RaiNews24's reporter Ettore Guastalla spent a week in Afghanistan and met the Italian Ambassador Roberto Cantone, discussing the security situation

RaiNews24's reporter Ettore Guastalla spent a week in Afghanistan following the Italian contingent operating within the NATO’s "Resolute Support" mission. In Kabul’s “Green Zone” he met the Italian Ambassador Roberto Cantone, discussing the security situation and the recent attacks conducted by the Taliban and Daesh (watch video 1). He also visited the headquarters of the Resolute Support international mission, where our military operate and where he met General Antonio Bettelli (watch video 2)The RAI journalist then spent Easter in Herat where the Sassari Brigade is currently deployed as part of the operations to support and assist the Afghan army (watch video 3). Also in Herat RaiNews24 described the activities of the Italian military to counter improvised explosive devices (watch video 4).

Turkey's interest in expanding trade relations with Afghanistan

Turkish Deputy Minister of Economy Fatih Metin, during his recent visit to Kabul-Afghanistan said his country is interested in expanding trade relations with Afghanistan and prepared to provide raw materials to local manufacturing companies. Metin said the Turkey's private sector is also willing to invest in Afghanistan’s energy production, mining and agriculture sectors.

Monday, 16 April 2018

The success of airlines in Afghanistan has become a conundrum

Unending problems of Afghan airlines - The success of airlines in Afghanistan has become a conundrum. Over the last decade, three airlines collapsed and the remaining ones are also teetering on the brink of becoming defunct. Banned from flying into European airspace, Afghan air carriers are now not even allowed to go to the United Arab Emirates. 
Head of Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, Mahamood Shah Habibi, 
was questioned by lawmakers on December 2017 over alleged 
corruption in appointments, collection of revenues and other problems.
Experts blame poor management, flaws in laws, investment in dilapidated planes, and weak communication with foreigners for the failures of Afghan airlines. An expert, Esmatuallah Wardak, tells The Heart of Asia that Afghan businessmen with no experience and education in aviation purchased old planes at a very high price, which were unable to compete with foreign air carriers. “On the one hand, they had bought the planes at high-interest loans from banks, but on the other hand they could not compete with foreign airlines because of not meeting relevant standards, and even faced with bans, causing huge losses to them.” According to Wardak, the shortcomings in Afghan aviation laws have also contributed to increased problems at airlines. There are no technical aviation professionals and engineers in Afghanistan, stresses Engineer Homayoon, another industry expert, adding that the foreign engineers and technicians hired by Afghan airlines develop policies and procedures without even taking the Afghan context into account.
“The planes currently operated by Afghan airlines in Afghanistan have high costs compared to foreign aircrafts; therefore, they cannot compete with them,” he told The Heart of Asia. Afghan airlines also do not know the language to communicate with foreigners, a shortcoming that has handicapped their ability to build successful partnerships with world’s leading air carriers. Three Afghan airlines -- Ofoq-e-Sharq, Pamir Airlines, and Afghan Jet -- have ceased to operate over the last ten years. By the same token, Safi Airways has been stripped of the permit to operate foreign flights, while Kam Air has also limited its flights following the loss of some of its foreign crew members in the attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Ariana Afghan Airlines as the country’s national carrier, which suffered millions of dollars in loss due to poor management over the last several years, is still coddled by government subsidy. The national carrier announced last year that it was expecting to reach break-even point the following year; however, it now refuses to share any details. The Heart of Asia could not reach the Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation, and Ariana Afghan Airlines for comment.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Afghan govt trying to market Afghanistan’s marble around the world, especially in China and Arab countries

Afghanistan to build 2 big solar energy projects in eastern provinces

The Afghanistan’s electricity company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), announced that two big solar energy projects will be built in the east of the country with the help of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The project, which will cost about 300,000,000 US dollars, will have a power output capacity of 200 megawatts. The two solar parks will supply power to eastern Nangarhar and Laghman provinces.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Afghanistan starts to issue biz license at the price of about one (1) euro

In order to improve Afghanistan's position in World Bank Business Indicators, the Business Licensing Directorate of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan reduced business license registration fees from 30,000 Afs (about 350 Euro) to 100 Afs (about 1 Euro).
The Ministry of Commerce and Industries has also the faculty to issue and renew the business license of a company, taking into account clear criteria including tax clearance, establishing the identity of the company through biometrics, and in the case of non-renewal, the business license will be suspended in accordance with the abolition law and the company's activity will be stopped.

About Business Licensing Directorate:
The Business Licensing Directorate of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan is responsible for the administration of six licences: four trader (both importers and exporters) licences, one for freight operators, and a licence for brokers operating on behalf of the Ministry. It also issues licences in order to ensure that only fit and proper persons are able to traffic goods into, through and out of Afghanistan. In such a way, the success of this Directorate in improving and simplifying procedures in this area, will be important for MOCI to achieve its strategic objective to improve the enabling and regulatory environment for business and Afghanistan’s DBI ranking.

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