Battleland

Weaning Kabul Off the U.S. War Machine

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Shopkeepers and business people in Afghanistan are concerned that the U.S. military drawdown will hurt their economy.

So there’s Mohammed Nabi in Kabul complaining about the half-finished buildings and empty scaffolding near his floor-tile shop. “We now realize that most of our business was dependent on foreigners,” he says about the shop he started six years ago to provide goods to military bases and foreign organizations. “No more.”

Nabi is quoted in Tuesday’s USA Today, which reported:

Residents of Kabul are worried that a diminished economy could bring about the return of the Taliban to the capital, which fell to the hard-line Islamists in 1996 and remained under their rule until the U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks.

Not to worry, Kabulis: the U.S. Departments of Commerce and the Interior have you covered. In a contract solicitation updated on 9/11, Interior’s National Business Center is seeking a contractor to support the Commerce Department’s Afghanistan Business Development program. The program, it says,

through in country training, individual counseling sessions, and international business study tours, networking and matchmaking events, will help participating Afghan firms develop workable, implementable strategic plans designed to mitigate the impact of the upcoming US drawdown on participating firms, enable the firms to produce for the domestic Afghan market, conduct trade with international business partners, and apply for and secure the financing and insurance products they need for growth and sustainability.

After they straighten out the Afghan economy, maybe they’ll come home and do the same here.

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