It Appears to be Time

…to walk away from Afghanistan commercially, if not militarily.  Our commercial presence flows from the mission creep that has long infested our war there—a creep from the Bush doctrine of going anywhere there are terrorists and burning them, which in the Afghan implementation meant burning al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Period.  Full stop.  That mission, following the destruction of those two terrorist organizations as viable entities in Afghanistan, unfortunately quickly morphed into nation-building, an attempt to meld widely and wildly disparate tribes and clans into an actual, unified country.

Here is an example of the failure of that mission creep and of the foolishness of allowing it.  Tamerlane Global Services, Inc, provides contracting services for the US government and is exempt from Afghan taxation.  At the time of this incident, Tamerlane was in the middle of a legal dispute in a US Federal court with an Afghan firm, Global Hub Logistics, over mutual allegations of breach of contract.  Whether impatient with the proceedings or disinterested in an anticipated outcome, or some other reason, Global Hub complained to the Afghan government, and the latter manufactured a tax dispute against Tamerlane.

And then they snatched a Tamerlane employee off the street and threw him into jail.

Tamerlane and its employee are not alone in this abuse.

Afghan companies have begun turning to the Attorney General’s Office to resolve business quarrels through criminal investigations and arrests, rather than going to arbitration, mediation or commercial courts, attorneys here said.

It took the involvement of American Congressmen to get the Tamerlane employee released from gaol, and the employee never has been charged with any crime.  His employer and attorney, Kimberley Motley, said afterward,

There’s no legal basis for this at all.

The US has over 33,000 American contractors in Afghanistan at risk of this treatment: with the employer having a dispute with an Afghan company, and the dispute not going in a direction that suits the Afghan company, the latter bellyaches and the Afghan government grabs a likely looking employee and jails him.

Ward Scott, an American commercial lawyer in Kabul:

Our firm is increasingly getting calls from Western executives fearing, with good cause, the imminent arrest of their managers in Afghanistan over commercial disputes[.]

This misbehavior has to stop, and unfortunately, the most effective way to stop it seems to be to stop dealing with Afghanistan commercially in the first place.

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