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Congress quietly cuts aid to Afghanistan

Congress quietly cuts aid to Afghanistan

Jan 25, 2014 - 20:02

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Amid bickering over the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the US Congress has quietly slashed development and military assistance to Afghanistaninfo-icon, a media report said on Saturday.

There has been no perceptible opposition from the Obama administration, to the Congressional move, which comes as uncertainty grows by the day over the fate of the BSA, The Washington Post reported.

While cutting Afghanistan’s development aid by half, the lawmakers also barred US defense officials from embarking on major new infrastructure projects, as Capitol Hill finalised a massive US spending bill.

Under the appropriations, a sum of id="mce_marker".1 billion was allocated for assistance to Afghanistan -- 50 percent of the $2.1 billion the administration had sought.

Last year, the Pentagon sought $2.6 billion critical capabilities such as mobile strike vehicles for Afghan security forces, but agreed it could do with just 40 percent of that.

“Washington’s appetite to remain engaged in Afghanistan appears to be eroding precipitously, in large part because of how poisonous its relationship with the country’s president has become,” the newspaper said

The cost of the Afghan war will not decline substantially this year, as Congress set aside $85.2 billion for military operations, roughly the same amount as last year.

Although the number of US troops has dropped over the past year, the war cost remains high because shutting down bases and moving equipment back to the United States is expensive.

The prevailing sentiment in Washington toward President Hamid Karzai, who has so far refused to sign the deal, was codified in the Afghan portion of the spending bill, which was drawn up without significant public debate.

“The bill prohibits the obligation or expenditure by the US government of funds appropriated in this or any other act for the direct personal benefit of the president of Afghanistan,” appropriators wrote.

James Dobbins, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistaninfo-icon, said in a recent interview: “I think this reflects a congressional mood and will have an impact on the ultimate levels of support.”

But White House spokeswoman Laura Lucas Magnuson promised Washington would continue to provide Kabul with significant levels of assistance, despite the reductions in funding.

PANinfo-icon Monitor/mud


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