Special Inspector General on Wednesday warned that security remains crucial and at high risk, with or without sustainable peace and ceasefire the country will be threatened by many other extremist organizations.
In the SIGAR’s 2021 High-Risk report, John F. Sopko Special inspector general said “with or without a sustainable peace agreement and nationwide ceasefire, Afghanistan will likely continue to be threatened by multiple violent-extremist organizations”.
The report added that the security situation remains crucial and at high risk in the country because the Taliban have not changed their battle tactics, and extreme violence, political objectives, terrorist groups like Islamic State Khorasan (Daesh) and Al Qaeda still remains in the country.
According to the report “Any political agreement risks subordinate groups going rogue, possibly manifesting as another insurgency or insecurity from criminal gangs or networks.
“These issues could become even more pronounced if US forces are no longer in country to provide counterterrorism support and to train, advise, and assist Afghanistan’s security institutions”.
Sopko indicated, that any political agreement risks subordinate groups going roque possibly
Presenting SIGAR’s 2021 High-Risk List to US Congress, John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said any political agreement risks subordinate groups going rogue, possibly manifesting as another insurgency or insecurity from criminal gangs or networks.
Following the withdrawal of troops if the US will not facilitate Afghanistan in counterterrorism, support train, assist and advise the Afghan security, such issues will become even more pronounced, the report added.
Inspector General Sopko iterated that keeping with SIGAR’s statutory mandate to promote economy, effectiveness, and efficiency, the High-Risk List identifies serious risks to the United States’ $143 billion reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.
According to Sopko, stalled negotiations and continuing high levels of violence are putting the reconstruction efforts in the country at great risk than ever before.
Sopko said, “As we note in this report, whether or not the United States continues to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan pursuant to last year’s withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, the new Administration and Congress will have to decide whether and to what extent reconstruction will continue.
“Although Afghanistan’s leadership have often stated that their goal is self-reliance, Afghanistan today is nowhere near to being self-reliant – especially in funding its government operations, including military and police – from its own resources.
“And, as highlighted in our report, reconstruction aid helps keep Afghanistan from reverting to a terrorist safe haven,”.
“Today the gains from our nation’s investment in Afghanistan’s reconstruction face multiple threats: continued insecurity, uncertain post-peace settlement funding, the challenge of reintegrating fighters, endemic corruption, lagging economic growth and social development, threats to women’s rights, the illicit narcotics trade, and inadequate oversight by donors” Sopko stated.
He also pointed that level of the violence has intensified, including not only the attacks on Afghan security forces but also bomb attacks and targeted assassinations on civilians, mid-level officials, prominent women, and journalists.
Adding to his statement he said that the coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming Afghanistan’s health sector and has severely impacted its economy and people.
This report is “intended to provide an independent and sober assessment of the various risks now facing the Administration and Congress as they seek to make decisions about the future of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.” Sopko said.
By focusing on elements of US reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan that are essential to success; at risk of failure due to waste, fraud, or abuse; and subject to the control or influence of the US government, the High-Risk List was prepared.
The key factors using these criteria, SIGAR findings show eight areas at high risks, which are increasing insecurity, uncertain funding for a post-peace settlement, the need to reintegrate ex-combatants, endemic corruption, lagging economic growth and social development, illicit narcotics trade, threats to women’s right, inadequate oversight.
The report indicated that the failure of Afghan peace negotiations will be plunging the country into worse long-term danger and violence against women, “Women and girls suffer not only loss of life, injury, disability, and mental trauma, but also the loss of male breadwinners, increasingly desperate poverty, the social stigma and discrimination that accompany widowhood and permanent disability, and reduced access to basic services.”
SIGAR report hinted that there are between 55,000 and 85,000 Taliban fighters in the country some of who will be integrated into Afghan National Defense and Security Forces depending on terms of the peace agreement and some will need to change to productive noncombatants status in the civil society.
It is reported that Afghanistan still remains reliant on foreign aid with donors granting at least $8.6 billion annually which covers 80% of the country’s $11 billion public expenditures.
“Afghanistan remains exceptionally reliant upon foreign assistance, creating both an opportunity for donors to influence events there as foreign troops depart and risks to a potential peace if they reduce assistance too much, too fast, or insist on conditions that cannot be achieved by the parties to the conflict,” according to the report
SIGAR warned that Afghanistan’s limited fiscal capacity is inadequate to sustain infrastructures such as roads, power generation, and economic supply chains.
“The Afghan government’s lack of financial sustainability is an issue affecting all high-risk areas identified by SIGAR,” the report indicated.
SIGAR also noted that the detrimental effects of the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan do not only affect the health system but also help fund insurgents, foster corruption, and provoke criminal violence.
SIGAR denoted that illegal drugs do not only affect the health system but also fund insurgents, terrorists, foster corruption and provokes criminal violence.
“Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Afghanistan’s opium economy has remained resilient. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that Afghanistan’s 2020 opium-poppy harvest was largely uninterrupted by COVID-19,” read the report.
Another key risk factor was the government’s failure to effectively address the systemic corruption in Afghanistan.
The report also found that the Afghan government has failed to effectively address systemic corruption, and has taken limited steps to restrict and curb systemic corruption and that more practical action is required in this regard.
“The Afghan government often makes “paper” reforms, such as drafting regulations or holding meetings, rather than taking concrete actions that would reduce corruption, like arresting or enforcing penalties on powerful Afghans”, the report added.
Sopko also reminded the U.S congress that SIGAR is the only authority that remains the best US defense against waste, fraud, and abuse of US taxpayer funds in Afghanistan.