Afghanistan. While Afghanistan went politically in the
right direction in 2005, the security situation deteriorated
significantly. The country seemed to consist of two
unrelated realities. In September, general elections were
held for a new parliament and local councils in the 34
provinces. As no party lists existed, there was great
uncertainty about what many of the approximately 5,800
candidates stood for. There were strong suspicions that
several of those elected to the various congregations were
connected to militias or narcotics. According to countryaah, the absence of party
groupings was also feared to lead to fragmented and
difficult-to-manage congregations. One positive side of the
election process was that women were guaranteed just over a
quarter of the seats and that more than that were elected by
their own power. Earlier this year, Habiba Sarabi had
written history by becoming Afghanistan's first female
provincial chief when she was appointed governor of Bamian.
However, the interest in the election was rather weak; only
about 53% of voters participated. The election process ended
in November when the 34 provincial assemblies appointed
members of a newly created Senate.
In April, the government presented a budget that was
financed by foreign aid to 9%. Of that proportion, about 75%
were completely controlled by foreign organizations. The
government requested, until now in vain, that a larger part
of the development projects should be handled by domestic
companies, as several foreign organizations were suspected
of engaging in unfair competition by virtue of tax and duty
The United States and other Western countries have
invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight
against drugs. The cultivated area for opium also declined
by close to one-fifth, but due to favorable weather
conditions, production decreased by only a few percent.
On a visit to Washington in May, President Hamid Karzai
signed a "strategic partnership" agreement, which secured
the United States long-term control over a number of Afghan
military bases and free hands to wage the "war on terror" at
its discretion. Karzai's request that the US troops be
placed under Afghan command was resolutely rejected. Despite
the government's close ties to the United States, no warmer
feelings toward Americans prevailed among the population.
That two American soldiers escaped with 2-3 months
imprisonment for the mistreatment of two arrested Afghans
caused anger, as well as information on violations of the
Koran at the US Guant芍namo base in Cuba. The opposition to
the United States prompted President Karzai to appeal for
fewer bombs and house searches in the search for terrorists.
During the year, Taliban and other resistance movements
were increasingly successful in their attacks and also
carried out several suicide attacks. The year became the
bloodiest since 2001 with over 1,400 deaths, of which about
90 are Americans.
The NATO-led international peacekeeping force ISAF
decided to expand its force and take over some of the tasks
from the United States, so that the US troops could
concentrate more on the terrorist hunt. Among other things,
ISAF was expected to expand its operations to several
provinces in the south. Sweden also took on a greater
burden. Sweden takes over the command of the ISAF company in
Mazar-e Sharif in early 2006, expanding its squad from about
90 men to nearly 200, with the possibility of further
reinforcement. The Swedish effort came in the eye of the
public in November, when two Swedish soldiers were killed in
a blast attack in Mazar-e Sharif.
In November, Afghanistan joined the South Asian
Cooperation Organization SAARC.