Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/GettyImages.
UPDATE: It’s slightly more than what Afghanistan needs to avoid collapsing but less than it was hoping for. Donors from about 70 countries and organizations meeting in Tokyo pledged to grant $16 billion in development aid for Afghanistan as part of an effort to demonstrate the country won’t be abandoned once most foreign troops leave in 2014, reports the Associated Press.
The funds that amount to around $4 billion a year roughly equal Afghanistan’s gross domestic product. It is a bit more than the $3.9 billion the World Bank said Afghanistan needs to avoid collapsing once U.S. and NATO forces leave, according to the Washington Post. Yet it was less than the $6 billion a year the Afghan Central Bank had said the country needed to foster economic growth, points out Reuters. These civilian aid funds are on top of the $4.1 billion a year pledged in May at a NATO conference in Chicago.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among the many officials to emphasize that Afghanistan has to take on an aggressive campaign to fight corruption if it hopes to continue receiving international aid. Although officials declined to precisely outline what the U.S. annual contributions would be, Clinton said the White House would request from Congress money through 2017 that is “at or near” levels the United States has provided in the past, which, as the Washington Post notes, has ranged from $1 billion to $4 billion a year.
Meanwhile, at least 18 civilians were killed by three bombs in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, reports the New York Times.
Saturday, July 7: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially declared that the United States was designating Afghanistan a major, non-NATO ally during a short visit to the country Saturday. The status doesn’t translate into any security commitments, but rather it makes it easier for Afghanistan to receive financing for defense equipment and facilitates military training, reports the Washington Post.
Ultimately, though, becoming the 15th nation to join the club of countries that include the likes of Israel, Pakistan, Japan, and South Korea is mostly a “symbolic status” meant to reinforce the idea that Washington won’t be abandoning Afghanistan once American troops withdraw in 2014, points out Reuters.
“Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite,” Clinton said before flying off to Tokyo, where she will attend an international conference on Afghanistan. In Japan, roughly 70 countries and organizations are set to meet to discuss Afghanistan’s future, and donors are expected to pledge about $16 billion—$4 billion per year from 2012 through 2015—in support for the country, reports the Associated Press.
Naming Afghanistan an official ally could raise “awkward issues for the United States,” warns the New York Times, noting that it is by far the least developed of the non-NATO allies, and the country’s tenuous relationship with Pakistan could become an issue.