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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

After the U.S. Leaves Kandahar

Apparently the U.S. withdrawal will mean the loss of electrical power to factories in Kandahar province. From VOA News:
When the United States stops funding power generation in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar next year, the lights are set to go out and factories will fall idle, playing into the hands of Taliban insurgents active in the area. 
Bringing a stable source of electricity to Kandahar, the cradle of the hardline Islamist movement and once a base for its leader Mullah Omar, was a top U.S. "counter-insurgency priority'' as Washington pursued its policy of winning "hearts and minds."
But regular power in the city is still years away, and when the United States finally ends subsidies - currently running at just over $1 million a month - in September 2015, Kandahar could lose around half its severely limited electricity supplies, Afghan power officials and U.S. inspectors say.
 
The Taliban, meanwhile, control about half the 12 MW of power supplied to Kandahar province from the Kajaki plant in neighboring Helmand province, ensuring a stable supply of electricity in their strongholds, according to the head of state power firm Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) in Kandahar. 
"There are some 130 different factories operating in Kandahar whose electricity is maintained and paid for by the Americans,'' said Fuzl Haq, a businessman in Kandahar.
"If the Americans stop paying for the fuel to run these factories, some 6,000 workers will lose their jobs,'' Haq added, reflecting concerns of many locals in Afghanistan's second city.
 
"These are all young people and they may join up with the Taliban or resort to crime in order to earn money.''
If corporate welfare is necessary to keep these operations afloat, they apparently weren't turning a profit.

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