This story hasn’t gotten nearly enough airtime though the entire thing is a demonstration of how impotent Obama’s soft power is.
The withdrawal/drawdown from Afghanistan has become much more expensive on the American side because of a bizarre criminal attempt by the Afghan authorities to cash in one last time on the Yankees with a customs tax.
With Afghan authorities insisting the US owes millions of dollars in customs fines and trucks carrying hardware being blocked at border crossings, the Americans have started flying out most equipment by air at great cost.
“The cost is five to seven times more” by aircraft than over land through neighboring Pakistan, said a defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Afghan government is insisting that US forces pay $1000 for each shipping container leaving the country that lacks what it calls a valid customs form.
And authorities now claim the Americans owe $70 million in fines, even though the US contends that Kabul’s stance contradicts previous agreements, said US officials, confirming a report that first appeared in the Washington Post.
In some cases, Afghan officials were blocking commercial trucks from delivering food and fuel to US forces due to the customs dispute, the inspector general said.
You know that Karzai Inc. wouldn’t be pulling this nonsense on an administration that would shake the big stick at them. But Obama’s smart power means that the US is just abandoning or trashing a lot of equipment and flying the rest out at a much higher expense.
The regime of President Hamid Karzai has imposed a $3545 per container exit tax on every container leaving the country by road, including hundreds of loads of military equipment being removed by coalition forces.
Exemptions can be applied, but Australia has not been granted a waiver and without the correct paperwork each container will also be hit with a $1000 fine.
The Australian Defence Force’s first convoy of 55 armoured accommodation containers is waiting for clearance at the Pakistan border and as soon as it crosses the frontier Australia will be liable for a $200,000 exit tax.
Australia has given Afghanistan about $1 billion in civilian aid funds during the past five years and will provide about $200 million a year indefinitely.
In addition the military will “gift” millions of dollars worth of equipment, including hundreds of armoured accommodation containers, for use when coalition forces depart during the next 18 months.
Again, this kind of thing is a show of weakness. If Australia made that aid contingent on waiving customs fees, it wouldn’t be putting up with this. Unfortunately this government is in almost as messy a state as ours. Messier arguably, considering the insanity and the battles.