Afghans to Fleeing US Forces: Where's the Rent?

Property disputes simmer over abandoned bases

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 31, 2012 5:21 PM CST

(Newser) – Afghans are crying foul over US forces that have fled their bases without paying rent or settling land disputes that could undermine the Afghan government, the Guardian reports. In one village in eastern Kunar province, people awoke one morning to find buildings of a US base blown up, with air conditioners wedged into a damaged wall and junk scattered all around. A landlord said the Americans still owed five years' rent that amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A few miles away, the US left and Afghan soldiers took over the base—but that land is owned by several people who say they are still owed rent. They also fear never getting their property back, so Haji Usman, one of the owners, led a group to Kabul that successfully lobbied for a government investigation. Land ownership is a volatile issue in Afghanistan, where 30 years of war has destroyed legal documents, killed off property owners, and turned people into squatters without legal rights to land.

In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 photo, members of the Afghan Local Police watch passing US troops visiting their base in Sar Hawza district of Paktika province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan.
In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 photo, members of the Afghan Local Police watch passing US troops visiting their base in Sar Hawza district of Paktika province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Heidi Vogt)
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