Corruption Epidemic, with Yama Torabi


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Dr. Yama Torabi is a Senior Research Associate and a political scientist. He holds two masters degrees, in Political Science and International Relations, and a PhD in International Relations.

​In 2005, Torabi founded Integrity Watch Afghanistan, which, after completing his studies in France, he returned to Kabul to direct between 2009 and 14.

He was commissioner and rotating chair of Afghanistan’s Joint Independent Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) between 2012 and 17, and head of the government’s Special Anti-Corruption Secretariat (SACS) from 2017 until earlier this year.

We covered a lot of ground on a topic that has characterised both post-2001 administrations in Kabul and has gone a long way to driving sympathy, if not toward the Taliban, certainly away from the government.

Torabi and I talk about the origins of the corruption epidemic in Afghanistan and some of it’s key practitioners in the years immediately after the U.S. invasion.

We discuss how patronage networks permeate the highest levels of government and the international community’s complicity in enabling it to flourish.

Torabi explains some of the ways and means by which corruption exists in the security sector, through fuel imports, electricity, in development, counter-narcotics,and politics. He also explains the country’s biggest post-2001 corruption scandal - the 2010 collapse of Kabul Bank.

I ask Torabi about the Taliban assertion that the group is corruption-free and about how successful President Ghani has been at driving anti-corruption efforts after campaigning on it in 2014 and, since, under the constant pressure of international donors and diplomats who have often prioritised short term issues over long-lasting reform.