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Viewing cable 07KABUL1032, HOW NOT TO LOSE THE NORTH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KABUL1032 2007-03-28 11:11 2011-01-23 19:07 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO7602
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHBUL #1032/01 0871146
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281146Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7143
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3561
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3885
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 001032 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

DEPT FOR SA/FO, SCA/A, S/CT, S/CR, SCA/PAB, EUR/RPM 
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG 
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN 
OSD FOR SHIVERS 
CENTCOM FOR, CG CJTF-82 POLAD 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PHUM PINR SNAR AF
SUBJECT: HOW NOT TO LOSE THE NORTH 

REF: A. KABUL 5679 06 
B. KABUL 940 07 
C. KABUL 979 07 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RONALD E. NEUMANN FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) & (d) 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Having been caught off guard by the 
Taliban's opportunistic efforts in the South, post stepped 
back to look at the situation in the North to assess how best 
to avoid destabilizing violence and power vacuums in the 
region. The current stability in northern Afghanistan can be 
credited less to the effectiveness of local or national 
government than to the control wielded by local power brokers 
and the lack of a focused insurgency like the Taliban in the 
south. Corruption, drug trafficking, and criminality plague 
the north. Improving good governance and establishing 
legitimate stability require credible government structures, 
an operational justice system, and an economy strong enough 
to survive the removal of drug traffickers and corrupt 
officials. Focusing on one issue to the exclusion of others 
would leave critical gaps in our overall strategy to ensure 
lasting security. Implementation challenges are substantial. 
The GOA's political must play a vital role. ISAF could have 
a key role to play, but NATO as an organization has not shown 
the political will even to seriously discuss the issues. END 
SUMMARY. 

--------------------------------- 
Northern Stability Is Superficial 
--------------------------------- 
2. (C) Despite the pressures of the insurgency in the South, 
we cannot wholly divert resources or attention from the North 
on the mistaken assumption that all is well there. The 
superficial stability that exists is fragile and masks 
considerable public disenchantment with the central 
government. Badakhshan's remote location helps protect the 
narco-economy that dominates the political and economic 
landscape. Takhar is dealing with organized crime and the 
control that local power brokers have over the province. 
Baghlan is plagued with local criminality based largely on 
tribal clashes and banditry. Balkh is mired in a corrupt 
provincial government structure with a dominant governor 
whose personal interests outweigh his sense of public 
service. Kunduz is struggling to deal with a large influx of 
Pashtun refugees. Jowzjan is faced with a power struggle 
between Tajik, Uzbek, and Pashtun leaders who are vying for 
control. In each case, the veneer of stability rests on 
factors that represent an obstacle to responsive governance, 
which feeds discontent. 

-------------------------- 
Corruption Must Be Reduced 
-------------------------- 
3. (C) Unless provincial governments and federal 
authorities ensure that arrested criminals are prosecuted and 
imprisoned, locals have no reason to believe that the current 
economy and governance system, which has been dominated for 
so long by corrupt and nepotistic leaders, can function 
differently. If governmental corruption could be reduced to 
a minimum, locals would be more willing to support efforts by 
provincial government to establish itself as the legitimate 
guarantor of security. Currently, removing corrupt officials 
from their positions often results in nothing more than their 
transfer to another post within the provincial or district 
government. The selection of the new district police chiefs 
as part of the phase III rank reform will help address this 
issue, but more remains to be done. 

4. (SBU) Pay reform is also a critical part of this 
equation. All Northern provinces are scheduled to undergo a 
pay reform over the next few months which will allow 
policemen to be paid directly from a local officially 
recognized bank. Ensuring that provincial departments receive 
their budget money will also help instill hope in the local 
population that change is coming to the North, and not all of 
the profit is going to the drug traffickers and corrupt 

KABUL 00001032 002 OF 003 


officials. 

------------------------------------ 
Stronger Economy Will Help Stability 
------------------------------------ 
5. (C) There is a strong entrepreneurial tradition in many 
parts of the North, and establishing legitimate, transparent 
business processes such as customs and tax collection, 
business registration, legally addressing complaints, hiring 
on merit, and contracting via open competition is vital to 
strengthening the economy, especially in Mazar e Sharif. 
Strengthening the Mazar economy would sideline Governor 
Atta's corrupt government by reducing the populace's 
dependency on the government for survival. To this end, the 
USG is working on strengthening the private sector by 
facilitating a reform of the tax and customs processes. 
Anti-corruption efforts, such as prosecuting officials linked 
to Atta or going after Atta himself, should be pursued but in 
a balanced way so that such actions do not become 
destabilizing. 

------------------------------------------ 
Removing Narco-Traffickers Key to Security 
------------------------------------------ 
6. (C) In contrast to Balkh province, the economies of 
Baghlan, Takhar, and especially Badakhshan provinces are much 
more dependent on narco-trafficking and smuggling of goods 
and weapons. Efforts to strengthen the local economy in 
these provinces would have little effect on wresting control 
of the province from local power brokers in the short-term. 
Without action taken to marginalize the entrenched 
criminally-connected power centers in Badakhshan, we stand a 
fair chance of winning the war on terror in the north by 
preventing mass Taliban/other opposing force infiltration, 
only to lose the province to narco-threats. 

7. (C) Several actions could be taken to marginalize the 
entrenched narco-barons power centers. The Disbandment of 
Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) process can be seriously 
strengthened, with a push to collect weapons other than the 
old, often unusable arms that have been collected in the 
past. To accomplish this, more resources need to be invested 
into building local police capacity and strengthening the 
judicial institutions to prosecute successfully. Major 
arrests of the most prominent drug traffickers would send a 
strong signal that the GOA is committed to installing rule of 
law in the North. We will continue strongly to encourage 
Karzai to appoint clean individuals to official positions 
in the provinces. A more rigorous vetting procedure would 
help eliminate individuals with narco-connections from being 
slotted into government positions. A message needs to be 
sent to the criminal elements currently in control that they 
will no longer be able to operate freely; efforts are being 
made to bring rule of law to the north. 

------------------------------- 
National Police Need Shoring Up 
------------------------------- 
8. (C) The Ministry of the Interior is increasing the pace 
of recruitment and training to deploy more Afghan National 
Army (ANA) soldiers to the North. However, the numbers of 
Afghan National Police (ANP) being deployed to the North are 
growing more slowly because the focus is currently on the 
south. Regional Command North has said that an additional 
200 police advisors are needed to provide adequate mentoring 
and training of the 11,000 ANP that work in the north. 
Providing more advisors for the police would help create the 
capacity within the local police that is needed to minimize 
the possibility of creating a power vacuum that other 
criminal elements could take advantage of and establish 
themselves as the new local power brokers. 

9. (SBU) Rank reform, particularly the replacement of 
district police chiefs, will improve the quality of police 
leadership. Pay reform should provide incentives to improve 
recruitment and retention. The creation of a civil order 

KABUL 00001032 003 OF 003 


police unit will allow for a quick reaction force to respond 
to civil disturbances. However, these are all medium-term 
solutions that require time and resources to implement. They 
depend on the GOA's political will to see them through. 

------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
10. (C) Dislodging the status quo of corrupt officials and 
narco-barons without creating the kind of instability which 
has been fertile ground for the insurgency in the South will 
take careful planning, time, and determination. It is vital 
that these problems be tackled concurrently. Arresting 
corrupt officials should be accompanied by developing a 
functioning justice system. Removing drug traffickers from 
power should be followed with providing employment 
opportunities for poppy farmers who find themselves out of a 
job. Focusing on one issue to the exclusion of others would 
leave critical gaps in our overall strategy to ensure lasting 
security in the North. 

11. (C) Implementation difficulties associated with 
addressing these issues are substantial. Significantly 
reducing corruption, strengthening the local economy, 
removing narco-traffickers, and shoring up the National 
Police require time and resources. GOA political will and 
its ability to back it up are also key factors. ISAF thus 
far has not shown the will to confront criminality with force 
in the north. It does not have a mandate to do so. It will 
need to engage more on these issues if we want to ensure 
lasting stability in the north, particularly if we are not to 
be content with just waiting for years for GOA institutions 
to develop. But for ISAF to do more, its guidance would have 
to change and that is a discussion that needs to occur in 
capitals and Brussels. 

12. (C) Removing a few corrupt senior officials, warlords, 
or drug-traffickers will be viewed as nothing more than 
window dressing by locals. Real and lasting change will 
require substantial investments of time, energy, and capital. 
The GOA needs to demonstrate more political will to engage 
substantially on these challenges in the North. 
Nevertheless, attention needs to be paid to the varied 
challenges presented in the North. While the Taliban may not 
be poised at the doorstep of the northern provinces, locals 
are looking for alternatives. Now is the time to establish 
good governance and rule of law before northerners find 
another, less desirable way to deal with their current 
circumstances. END COMMENT. 
NEUMANN