Corruption in Afghanistan ranks number two in world survey

BERLIN — Afghanistan has slipped three places to become the world's second-most-corrupt country despite billions in aid meant to bolster the government against a rising insurgency, according to an annual survey of perceived levels of corruption.

Only lawless Somalia, whose weak U.N.-backed government controls just a few blocks of the capital, was perceived as more corrupt than Afghanistan in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

Iraq saw some improvement, rising to 176 of 180 countries, up two places up from last year. Singapore, Denmark and New Zealand were seen as the least corrupt countries in the list based on surveys of businesses and experts.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai's inability or unwillingness to tackle cronyism and bribery the past five years have resulted in an increase of support for the Taliban insurgents.

That has prompted calls by the Obama administration for Karzai to tackle the practice or risk forfeiting U.S. aid.

Since 2001, the U.S. Congress has appropriated more than $39 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan, according to a report by the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. European nations send about $1.5 billion a year.

International donors are increasingly questioning how much of the billions of dollars in aid might have been misappropriated.

The report said examples of Afghan corruption ranged from the sale of government positions to daily bribes for basic services.

Karzai unveiled an anticorruption unit and major crime fighting force on Monday after heavy pressure from Washington.

POLL: americans split on afghan war

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

52 percent of Americans see the war in Afghanistan as not worth its costs.

45 percent approve of how President Barack Obama is dealing with Afghanistan.

47 percent disapprove.

55 percent express confidence Obama will choose a new Afghanistan strategy that will work, though respondents were split on what that should be.

Slovakia pledges more troops to NATO force

Slovakia pledged about 250 extra soldiers Tuesday to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, the first of what British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said would be a series of international reinforcements. The central European country now has a 246-strong contingent in Afghanistan.

Corruption in Afghanistan ranks number two in world survey 11/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 11:33pm]

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