Quantcast
Connect with us

Citing corruption, US slashes Afghan aid days before election

Published

on

The United States on Thursday accused Afghanistan’s government of failing to fight corruption and cut more than $160 million in direct funding, little over a week before the country’s elections.

While Washington has long complained of graft by its ally, the harsh measure comes after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani clashed with President Donald Trump over the US leader’s deal with the Taliban.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We stand against those who exploit their positions of power and influence to deprive the Afghan people of the benefits of foreign assistance and a more prosperous future,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo said that the United States was suspending work with the Afghan body in charge of monitoring corruption as it is “incapable of being a partner.”

“We expect the Afghan government to demonstrate a clear commitment to fight corruption, to serve the Afghan people and to maintain their trust,” he said.

“Afghan leaders who fail to meet this standard should be held accountable.”

Pompeo said the United States was taking back $100 million committed for a major energy project, saying that Washington would fund it directly rather than sending the money through Afghan authorities.

ADVERTISEMENT

He also said the United States would withhold $60 million in planned assistance to Afghanistan’s procurement authority.

– Urging ‘free and fair’ elections –

Ghani stands for re-election on September 28 in the campaign already marred by Taliban violence, with dozens killed this week including in an attack on a Ghani rally.

ADVERTISEMENT

The last election, in 2014, ended in allegations of rigging and a political stalemate between Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who is again running.

They eventually reached a power-sharing arrangement after brokering by then US secretary of state John Kerry.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pompeo, speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, said that the United States wanted “free and fair elections,” adding: “We’re going to do everything we can to support them.”

Trump had sought to seal a deal with the Taliban before the Afghan election as part of his goal of ending America’s longest war, launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Ghani had voiced strong concern over a draft deal, under which the United States would have withdrawn thousands of troops despite the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with the internationally recognized government.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump, who had controversially invited both the Taliban and Ghani to the United States, eventually declared the talks dead, citing an attack by the insurgents that killed a US soldier.

Alice Wells, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told Congress in a hearing Thursday that the negotiations were “suspended.”

Representative Eliot Engel, the Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, worried that the Trump administration had no clear policy going forward.

“With the president declaring the deal dead, it’s not clear where we go from here,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Engel had summoned the US negotiator with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, to testify at the hearing but withdrew his subpoena after the veteran diplomat agreed to speak to lawmakers behind closed doors.

Former president Barack Obama also clashed with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, with his administration saying Kabul had not curbed corruption and became too reliant on the US military.

Under Ghani, a longtime US resident and professor of anthropology of Johns Hopkins University, US officials have credited Afghan troops with taking the lead in fighting the Taliban.

Wells said that the United States still had myriad concerns with the direction of Afghanistan along with corruption, including opium production and “criminalization of the economy.”

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

‘Quiet!’ Trump erupts as reporters question him about witness intimidation — and demands ‘freedom of speech’

Published

on

President Donald Trump on Friday got into a testy exchange with reporters after they asked him whether his angry tweet at former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch constituted witness intimidation.

While talking with reporters, Trump falsely claimed that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee had been prevented from asking questions during Yovanovitch's testimony.

"We have the right to speak!" the president fumed. "I have freedom of speech just as other people do but they have taken away the Republicans rights. I watched today as certain very talented people, who wanted to ask questions, and they weren’t even allowed to ask questions, Republicans. They weren’t allowed to ask questions."

Continue Reading

Facebook

Laughter breaks out inside hearing room as Dem mocks GOP’s attempts to downplay smear campaign against Yovanovitch

Published

on

During the second public House impeachment hearing this Friday, Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) took a dig at President Trump in light of testimony from former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who recounted how she became the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, along with the help of the right-wing news media. After her ouster from her position, Yovanovitch returned to Washington and took up a role as a senior State Department fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

"It's like a Hallmark movie -- you ended up at Georgetown. This is all okay," Quigley said sarcastically, prompting laughter from the room.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Dozens of groups urge California Gov. Gavin Newsom to ‘facilitate a public takeover of PG&E’

Published

on

"PG&E would be in prison, if it were a citizen, given how many people have died at its hands."

As the West Coast's wildfire season continues, dozens of progressive organizations sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday urging the first-term Democrat to "facilitate a public takeover of PG&E to protect ratepayers, California communities, and our climate."

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image