In Tokyo, donors meet to discuss 'transformational' Afghanistan
In the midst of an economic downturn and mixed results on the war effort, top Afghan and U.S. officials will try to convince nations of the world to pledge billions of dollars for a protracted security and development effort in Afghanistan.
Representatives from about 70 countries will sit down Sunday to hash out how to fund Afghanistan’s development over the next decade, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are expected to be on hand to convince increasingly war-weary governments to open their pockets.
On top of flagging public support for the war around the world, another obstacle to securing aid will be Afghanistan’s position as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 180 out of 183 countries surveyed by Transparency International. Karzai, whose close family members have been implicated in corruption and drug trafficking, will have to convince donors that their money will be used for its intended purpose.
The goal of the conference is to secure financial contributions from donor countries to aid Afghanistan in development and security beyond 2014.
The summit follows the Bonn Conference in December in Germany, at which donors pledged to stand by Afghanistan in the coming decade, but said that continued financing would hinge on government reforms, extension of human rights, especially to women, and on renewed efforts to root out corruption.
“It’s also about combating widespread corruption,” Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said in Bonn, “and when this is taken together, results in these domains will actually decide whether the people will opt for democracy and reconciliation, or for extremism and violence.”
Previous Tokyo Conferences, held annually since 2002, have largely focused on aid to the Afghan National Security Forces, but this year’s meeting is intended to highlight nonsecurity issues for what’s been dubbed the “transformation decade” in Afghanistan, 2015-24, after the planned 2014 withdrawal of most combat forces.
Afghanistan is expected to submit a proposed budget of $8 billion a year for 22 programs, including measures to stabilize the economy and provide employment and security.
But the Tokyo Conference could end up being dominated by questions about future funding of the Afghan National Security Forces. A declaration issued out of the NATO summit in May said the ANSF would need about $4.1 billion a year for the coming decade. Much of the bill will be footed by the United States. Clinton will be trying to convince other countries to pick up as much of the tab as possible.
The ANSF comprises about 307,000 soldiers and police, according to the Brookings Institution, and ISAF’s goal is to raise that to 350,000 by October, though there are plans to reduce that number to 230,000 by 2017.