Kandahar, a city in southeast Afghanistan with a population of roughly 500,000, is set to be without electricity once US troops complete their withdrawal from the country.
According to a report by Reuters, when the United States leaves Kandahar in 2015, the lights will leave with the American forces. The power outage will not only create a basic living problem but will also likely play into the hands of the Taliban, who remain actively seeking the full takeover of the city.
As part of the US “hearts and minds” campaign, the United States dumped billions of dollars into developing Afghanistan’s infrastructure over the past thirteen years.
The report said that, unfortunately, a steady stream of electricity is still far from within the grasp of the local Afghans. The United States is set to end its electric subsidies, which cost over a million dollars a month, when it leaves in September of 2015.
When the US pulls out, the Taliban, which is in possession of half of the electricity supplied to Kandahar province, will likely leverage the electricity as a political tool to further obtain power and influence in the city.
“There are some 130 different factories operating in Kandahar whose electricity is maintained and paid for by the Americans,” a businessman in Kandahar told Reuters. “If the Americans stop paying for the fuel to run these factories, some 6,000 workers will lose their jobs. These are all young people, and they may join up with the Taliban or resort to crime in order to earn money,” he said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan told Reuters, “If electrical service to Kandahar is compromised it could end up endangering counter-insurgency and economic gains made over the last few years.”
Kandahar is the second-largest city in Afghanistan, behind its capital city Kabul. The city is known to have been the home of many radical terror groups such as Al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network. During the Taliban’s rule, it was considered the capital of Afghanistan until US forces toppled the terror regime.