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How war made Hikmatullah rich

Many things are still not good in Afghanistan. But especially in these days it is worth taking a look at older reports and research. They reveal all too clearly what went wrong in the Hindu Kush. A good example of this is the American war industry, which has led to many jumping jacks suddenly becoming millionaires, while the absolute majority of Afghans were starving to death.

About a month ago, the US government signed a withdrawal deal with the Afghan Taliban in the Gulf emirate of Qatar. Since then, there has been a complete withdrawal of US troops. What the Situation will look like after a possible re-election of Trump or with a president Joe Biden is unclear. But at present the Hindu Kush is being dismantled. Troops are coming home. After the signing of the agreement, the US military in Afghanistan announced its intention to reduce the troop contingent to a total of 8,600 troops within 135 days.

This is especially noteworthy when you consider what was once going on in the country. When the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan at the end of 2001, they built a gigantic war industry that included all sorts of sectors. Billions of dollars were pumped into the country in various forms. The money was distributed to corrupt Warlords, politicians and drug lords or to NGOs, supposed human rights and women’s rights activists or other actors who had come to benefit from the war - or as it was called at the time: from “democracy”. Meanwhile, many war-weary Afghans mistakenly regarded the sudden flow of money as a healthy economic upswing. In certain circles, the following quickly applied: those who do not make money in these days are stupid – especially if they know the English language. A predator mentality quickly developed, and most of the money, of course, lay with the US military.

In many regions, downright small cities developed, which developed around the military bases and which were operated by the Americans. There were hospitals, leisure centres and fast food restaurants. In addition, there were showers with hot water, air conditioning and internet cafés. The energy consumption was enormous, and consequently many goods and raw materials were needed.

But at the same time there was still war. The US had only driven the enemy, i.e. the Taliban, out of the cities or sent them to torture prisons in Bagram or Guantanamo. Extremism and militancy flourished In rural areas – often the scene of Western war crimes. The uprising grew and US soldiers became targets. In order to minimize the damage in its own ranks, the Pentagon began outsourcing numerous activities. The focus was primarily on logistical orders, such as weapons and raw material transports. It was at this point that men like Hikmatullah “the lucky” came into play. Such orders were not carried out by Americans, but by local Afghans, who over time had developed good relations with the soldiers. This often came about through an activity on a US Basis. In many cases, a bread job that was initially well-paid for Afghan conditions became a privileged interpreter’s job. Young Afghans like Hikmatullah suddenly went on a “terrorist hunt” with US Special Forces – thanks to their knowledge of English. Hik, as Hikmatullah was called by his American colleagues, was one of them. Poor, fatherless and barely of legal age. As the eldest son he was forced to feed his entire family. In Afghanistan there was nothing – only the war industry, and in that there was perhaps not something for everyone, but at least for many.

But Hikmatullah wanted more. He knew that the big money was somewhere else. This was also the reason for founding his transport company. With his trucks he wanted to carry out orders for the US military. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the transport mafia is a massive industry in its own right. Especially powerful men are in charge. Warlords and drug lords. Most of the orders were attributed to them. Hik did not fit into this category. He was considered an ambitious young man who had good relations with the Special Forces. Thanks to them he got his orders and became a millionaire within a very short time. In his hometown of Kandahar, Hikmatullah was at some point referred to only as “Shadmand”, “the lucky one. He lived in peace and quiet, but he was also generous and distributed money to the poor.

In 2014, Hikmatullah lived and worked in a Kabul house that once belonged to the famous Afghan pop singer Ahmad Zahir, as described in this recommendable report in the New Yorker. But already at that time the young entrepreneur had a Problem. Much of his assets in Dubai and Kabul – more than $ 150 million – were frozen under pressure from the US government. The reason: via Hikmatullah’s transport company, American money went to the Taliban.

How is that possible? Quite simply, Numerous transport routes are controlled by the Taliban (and other Gangs and groups). Anyone who wants to pass must lubricate. Of course, the now rather unfortunate Hik has also done this, even though he vehemently rejects the accusations and speaks of powerful competitors who regarded him as a danger to their business and therefore blacked him out. For several years, Hikmatullah, who continues to reside between Kabul and Dubai, has been fighting with his US lawyers to repay his millions. He is also supported by some friends he has known since his days in the Special Forces. They are convinced that the Afghan has done nothing wrong.

You may even be right about that in some ways. Hikmatullah Shadmand is primarily to be regarded as the product of a system that was doomed to failure from the beginning. The Americans invaded Afghanistan without any legal Basis – and they had no Plan for the country. Almost two decades of war and the recent deal with the Taliban make this more than clear. Early on, they realized that they could not do everything. Therefore, in many areas the “dirty work” was shifted and carried out by Afghans. Hikmatullah was one of them. He was one of many, in other words, not an isolated case. Once such profits and sums are in place, corrupt action is the next step. The fact that Hikmatullah most likely smeared Taliban, gangsters and other actors in order to pass certain routes without any problems should not surprise anyone – especially not the Americans.

In the first place, it was not Afghans who benefited from the war, but domestic US arms companies that are closely linked to the military-industrial complex. But also in the homeland there was one or the other crazy case, which became known. A recommendation for all those who are bored at home these days is the film “War Dogs”, which is about two young Americans who enter the arms business, focus on second - or third-rate Pentagon assignments and thus become millionaires. However, the two men fly up after they wanted to subvert Chinese AK-47 ammunition, also for the Afghanistan war, to the Pentagon. The Film is based on a true story, namely the following research of the US magazine Rolling Stone. The Swiss Arms mogul Heinrich Thomet, on whom one of the protagonists is based, also played an important role. By and large: a crazy Story that has unfortunately become everyday life thanks to the war policy of the Empire.