- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
Taliban popular where U.S. fought biggest battle
In Marjah, crime and corruption rule
Question of the Day
MARJAH, Afghanistan — Nearly three years after U.S.-led forces launched the biggest operation of the war to clear insurgents, foster economic growth and set a model for the rest of Afghanistan, angry residents of Helmand province say they are too afraid to go out after dark because of marauding bands of thieves.
During the day, they say, corrupt police and government officials bully them into paying bribes.
After 11 years of war, many here long for a return of the Taliban. They say that under the Taliban, who routinely punished thieves by cutting off a hand, they at least were safe from crime and corruption.
“If you had a box of cash on your head, you could go to the farthest part of Marjah, and no one would take it from you, even at night,” said Maulvi Daoud, who runs a cubbyhole-sized shop in the town of Marjah. “Today you bring your motorcycle in front of your shop, and it will be gone.
“Now the situation is that you go on the road and they are standing in police and army uniform[s] with weapons and they can take your money,” he said.
It was in Marjah in early 2010 that about 15,000 NATO and Afghan forces waged the war’s biggest battle.
They not only fought the Taliban with weapons but also promised to bring good governance to Marjah and the rest of the southern province of Helmand and demonstrate to the residents the advantages of shunning the militants.
But it appears the flaw in the plan was the quality of Afghans chosen by President Hamid Karzai to govern and police the area after most of the fighting ended.
That adds to growing doubts about the entire country’s future after foreign troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
Despite military claims of gains across the province and an overall drop in violence, Marjah residents told The Associated Press that NATO’s counterinsurgency experiment has failed.
A bleak picture also emerges from anecdotal evidence collected from dozens of interviews with residents elsewhere in the province, some from the most violent districts.
Many claim the U.S.-funded local police, a type of locally sanctioned militia, routinely demand bribes and threaten to accuse those who do not comply of being members of the Taliban. Good governance never came to Marjah, they say.
In villages of sun-baked mud homes, at crowded bus stops and in local teahouses where residents sit cross-legged on plastic-covered tables drinking tea and eating off communal plates, people scoffed at claims of security and development.
They heaped criticism on the Afghan government and officials, accusing them of stealing billions of dollars in aid money meant for the people, and chided an international community that they said ignored their needs and pandered to a corrupt administration.
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- N. Korean news agency: Kim Jong Un's uncle executed
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow