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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Afghan Warlord Courted by Australia

Why is Australia trying to do a deal with a bloodthirsty Warlord in Afghanistan when the Americans and the Dutch think he's too corrupt to deal with? In order to keep an important Warlord on side, Australian officials are talking about sending his children to school in Australia.

Matiullah Khan, or King of Oruzgan as he is known, is being encouraged to accept and abide by laws of accountability after the withdrawal of Australian troops in 2014. He is a powerful figure in the Oruzgan province and it's reported that he's accumulated $45 million dollars in six years. He's been accused of corruption and murdering business rivals and tribal opponents so why would Australia want this man to be the police chief when the Americans blocked the move and the Dutch refused to work with him.

It seems Canberra has been naive about Khan, and are now having second thoughts. This man has made millions from the war, mainly from payment for his fighters who are the best paid and most effective in the country - they are the men who work alongside the American and Australian troops. He also controls security contracts for roads and construction projects and benefits from multi-million dollar fuel contracts crucial for Western reconstruction teams. He is also very well connected with close tribal links to President Karzi.

Matiullah confirmed that Australia wanted to appoint him Police Chief but said "They mentioned it, but I don't want to do this, it's not good to work with this (Afghan) government". US Commander of all forces in Oruzgan, Colonel Jim Creighton said "I personally did not support that" and added "I can't begin to imagine everything he's involved in - I understand there are certain allegations that may or may not be true but my impression is that he genuinely wants Oruzgan to be a better place to live."

The warlord denies having discussed sending his children to school in Australia but said he would be happy to accept such an offer.