NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said corruption in Afghanistan will weaken the Afghan forces and will affect the organization’s political support to Kabul.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview with TOLOnews said that in return to NATO’s assistance and support to Afghanistan, the organization asks the Afghan government to fight corruption, bring reforms and build reliable security institutions. Stoltenberg said the continuation of NATO’s support to Afghanistan requires a number of conditions. “It is condition-based operation. And what we want in return is that Afghanistan continue to implement reforms to build strong and reliable security institutions and also fight corruption and the fight against corruption is extremely important because it weakens the armed forces of Afghanistan but it also undermines political support in NATO allied countries and partner countries to provide support with training and also financial support to Afghanistan,” he said.
He also talked about progresses made in Afghanistan, saying that they are not sufficient.
“We have seen a lot of progress. Just the fact that NATO is able to hand over the responsibility for security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces and that Afghan forces have been able to push back every time Taliban has attacked,” he stated. “When it comes to strengthening the Afghan forces in all ways for instance we are now developing the Air Force. That is extremely important and we are making a lot of progress, more planes more helicopters more pilots and also strengthening and educating more special operation forces. We also need leadership, better leadership.”
Commenting on Stoltenberg’s remarks, the Defense Ministry deputy spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said the ministry is committed to fighting corruption in the security institution. “We continue our efforts to appoint talented and professional leaders and we have had better achievements in our campaign against corruption,” Radmanish told TOLOnews.
The Presidential Palace meanwhile admitted that corruption is still endemic in public offices. “We accept that there is corruption in public offices, but we are committed to fighting the phenomenon,” said Dawa Khan Minapal, President Ashraf Ghani’s deputy spokesman. This comes after leaders of NATO countries met in Brussels on Thursday for a special meeting to discuss the fight against terrorism and the alliance’s defense spending.
U.S President Donald Trump also attended the Heads of State meeting, which was his first visit to NATO’s headquarters. NATO is expected to commit about 1,500 troops in addition to 3,000 U.S troops to Afghanistan – on the back of a request by NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson earlier this year.
The decision however has not yet been made, as mentioned last week by Stoltenberg.
Some countries and some senior U.S officials have questioned whether an increase in troop numbers would change the course of the war in Afghanistan. NATO has been trying to convince its allies that a few thousands more troops will help.