With new status, US signals Afghanistan not to be abandoned

United States names Afghanistan a major non-Nato ally.

Reuters July 07, 2012

KABUL: The United States has named Afghanistan a major non-Nato ally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday, a move that could reinforce Washington's message to Afghans that they will not be abandoned as the war winds down.

Clinton announced the decision, formally made by President Barack Obama, during her unannounced visit to Kabul where she will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the eve of a major donors' conference in Tokyo which will draw pledges for aid.

"I am going to be announcing formally with President Karzai in just a little bit... There are a very small number of countries that fit into that category," Clinton told US embassy staff in Kabul.

Obama's decision meets a pledge he made on a visit to Afghanistan this year to upgrade Kabul to a special security status given to only a limited number of US partners, including close allies like Israel and Japan, which are not members of Nato.

The status upgrade, which will make it easier for Afghanistan to acquire defense materiel from the United States, follows Nato's decision to withdraw most combat troops by the end of 2014.

Participants at the Tokyo meeting are expected to commit just under $4 billion annually in development aid for Afghanistan at Sunday's meeting, though the central bank has said the country needs at least $6 billion a year to foster economic growth over the next decade.

US officials with Clinton declined to say how much aid the United States would pledge, which has significantly reduced aid since the peak year of 2010 when more than $6 billion was given, two thirds from Washington.

"I think both the overall hard number of the international assistance as well as the US percentage of that number will be coming down," said one senior official traveling with Clinton.

Donor Fatigue, War Weariness.

Now, donor fatigue and war weariness are taking their toll on how long the global community is willing to support Afghanistan, and there are fears that without financial backing, the country could slip back into chaos when foreign troops withdraw.

US officials acknowledged that the trend lines for donating development aid were heading down.

Major donors and aid organizations have warned that weak political will and graft could prevent funds reaching the right people at a critical time, when fragile gains in health and education could be lost if funding does not continue.

Assuaging those fears, the US official added: "But that (amount) is still high enough and specific enough to show that there is a true commitment by the entire international community".

US officials may be reluctant to cite a specific pledge because the sum actually given is ultimately controlled by Congress, which holds the US government's purse strings.

Enthusiasm for foreign aid has generally waned in Congress because of massive US budget deficits.

Clinton's talks with Karzai were expected to touch on efforts to achieve reconciliation with the Taliban, the US official added.


j. von hettlingen | 10 years ago | Reply

There's fear that much of the billions spent on Afghanistan is going down the drain. Its latest request for about at least $6 billion in annual aid underscored the greed of Karzai's administrtion, which has sofar failed to convict any high official in connection with even the most massive and brazen instances of fraud. The grave and intractable problem - corruption puts the international community off, to engage itself in Afghanistan.

Dushmann (let there be peace) | 10 years ago | Reply

@Lala Gee: Isn’t this the same status “Major Non-NATO Ally” already granted to Pakistan. And look what US along with her “Strategic Partner” did to Pakistan. . yes the same status as Japan, South Korea, Israel, Thailand. Look how developed these resource poor countries have become and look at the condition of resource rich, strategically located Major Non-NATO Ally Pakistan. Look at South Korea which Pakistanis are fond of saying was once more backward than Pakistan. Ever wondered the problem could be in Pakistan which wasted such opportunity to become a developed country?

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