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Widespread corruption in Afghanistan substantially undermines US efforts to rebuild the county

The report offers a number of recommendations for implementing a U.S. interagency anti-corruption strategy in Afghanistan

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FILE - Workers are seen at an area under construction at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA
  • The report offers a number of recommendations for implementing a U.S. inter-agency anti-corruption strategy in Afghanistan.
  • Sopko’s report says corruption remains an enormous challenge to security, political stability, and development, and urges the U.S. mission to make anti-corruption efforts a top priority.
  • The corruption lens has got to be in place at the outset, and even before the outset, in the formulation of reconstruction and development strategy

Washington, September 15,2016: Widespread corruption in Afghanistan has substantially undermined U.S. efforts to rebuild the country, according to a report released Wednesday

The U.S. government’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko said corruption has fueled grievances against the Afghan government and channeled material support to the insurgency from the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sopko’s report says corruption remains an enormous challenge to security, political stability, and development, and urges the U.S. mission to make anti-corruption efforts a top priority.

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The report offers a number of recommendations for implementing a U.S. interagency anti-corruption strategy in Afghanistan.

Although the United States injected tens of billions of dollars into the Afghan economy, it contributed to the growth of corruption by being slow to recognize the magnitude of the problem, the role of corrupt patronage networks, and the ways in which corruption threatened core U.S. goals. It said certain U.S. policies and practices exacerbated the problem.

‘Endemic’ problem

The report titled, “Corruption in Conflict: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan,” quoted Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who re-opened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul soon after the September 11, 2001, attacks and served again as ambassador in 2011-2012 (and who is a member of Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees U.S. international broadcasting, including the Voice of America) as saying that “the ultimate point of failure for our efforts … wasn’t an insurgency. It was the weight of endemic corruption.”

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“The corruption lens has got to be in place at the outset, and even before the outset, in the formulation of reconstruction and development strategy, because once it gets to the level I saw, it’s somewhere between unbelievably hard and outright impossible to fix,” Crocker said. (VOA)

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Iran Denounces US as Actual “Head of Global Terrorism”

China, an economic partner of Iran, urged countries outside the Middle East to promote peace and stability in the region and to avoid any acts of aggression

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In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a ceremony marking "National Day of Nuclear Technology," in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2019. VOA

Steve Herman contributed to this report from the White House; Carla Babb – from the Pentagon.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced the United States Tuesday as the actual “head of global terrorism,” one day after the U.S. designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.

The move was the first time the U.S. designated part of another government as a terrorist organization.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” President Donald Trump declared in a statement. “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

The U.S. action, which takes effect next week and includes the IRGC’s elite secretive Quds Force, means it will be a federal crime to provide any type of support to the IRGC.

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In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with a group of Revolutionary Guards and their families, in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2019. VOA

Rouhani said the U.S. designation would only bolster the reputation of the Revolutionary Guards and promote harmony among Iranians.

“This mistake will unite Iranians and the Guards will grow more popular in Iran and in the region,” Rouhani said. “America has used terrorists as a tool in the region while the Guards have fought against them from Iraq to Syria.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a group of guards Tuesday, describing the U.S. action as a “vicious move” that “will bear no fruit.” After Iran’s legislature convened for an open session in Tehran Tuesday, lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted, “Death to America.”

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani criticized the U.S. decision as the “climax of stupidity and ignorance.” Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keivan Khosravi warned without elaborating that “any unusual move by American forces in the region will be perceived as the behavior by a terrorist group.”

China, an economic partner of Iran, urged countries outside the Middle East to promote peace and stability in the region and to avoid any acts of aggression.

iran, terrorism
After Iran’s legislature convened for an open session in Tehran Tuesday, lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted, “Death to America.” VOA

“We oppose power politics and bullying by any countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

Minutes after the announcement from the White House on the designation Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the IRGC “organizes and executes terror campaigns around the world.”

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U.S. officials, in comments to reporters, are also referring to the IRGC as a “death cult” that, they say, is the true face of Iranian foreign policy.

Pompeo declined to say, when asked by a reporter, whether the terrorist designation means that the U.S. military will target IRGC leaders the same way it does those of the Islamic State group. Iran responded Monday to the U.S. action by putting U.S. military forces on its list of terror groups. (VOA)