Afghan Economy Braces as Officials Warn Drawdown Will Mean Job Losses

Karzai Seeks Ongoing Funding, Equipment

by Jason Ditz, January 03, 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is poised to visit to the United States next week, for a round of talks with Obama Administration officials that, according to Foreign Ministry officials, will focus on continuing economic aid and funding for the Afghan military. This is doubly important, officials say, because being at war is pretty much the basis for the official Afghan economy.

Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul says that the NATO drawdown is problematic because the Afghan economy, such as it is, employs thousands of workers in service industries in and around occupation forces’ bases. As those numbers dwindle, he and others warn that the unemployment could fuel insurgency.

There’s no long-term solution to that, at least not from their perspective, and Karzai’s visit is going to center on getting the US to pony up enough cash to keep as many Afghans employed in make-work projects as possible, even though many of those US projects have been of little to know use.

The Obama Administration is already resigned to paying the bulk of the cost for the massive Afghan military more or less forever, since the Afghan economy isn’t even close to being able to support such a force, but with the budget tight it may be difficult to shovel through dubious infrastructure projects at an even faster rate as troop levels fall.

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