Afghanistan: Criticism Builds as Possible War with Iraq Looms

UN officials are growing increasingly concerned that a war with Iraq could have severe consequences on humanitarian efforts elsewhere, particularly in Afghanistan, Angola, and the Ivory Coast, reported the BBC. Reports last month indicated that Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, received warnings to prepare for Iraqi refugees, but “There’s not one government who has come to me with money,” he said. The BBC reports that some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are refusing funds from countries sponsoring war with Iraq, preferring instead to contend with existing emergencies elsewhere.

The Feminist Majority and other progressive feminist organizations continue to call for the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond and within Kabul. Currently, ISAF consists of 4,800 troops, supported by 22 nations, according to the Wall Street Journal. Critics of the US effort in Afghanistan argue that without commitments from the US, the effectiveness of ISAF will continue to be limited. Rafael Robillard, head of the coalition group Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, criticized that the Pentagon’s recently-unveiled Provincial Reconstruction Teams–which consists of 60 troops working alongside regional Afghan commanders–is “driven more by developing events in Iraq or Washington than the reality on the ground in Afghanistan,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai may not run for re-election next year, the Washington Post reported today. His term, which began in late 2001, is set to expire in mid-2004 after the Loya Jirga meets to draft a new constitution. In his interview with the Post, Karzai expressed reservations about running again for President: “I don’t want this country to develop personality cults or icons, I don’t like thatÉ” He continued, “I want leaderships in Afghanistan, a multiplicity of leadershipsÉI want the Afghan people to have choices. I don’t want them to be stuck with one manÉ because of a lack of choice.”

TAKE ACTION Urge Congress to Appropriate Funds for Expanded Peace Troops, Women’s Programs and Reconstruction in Afghanistan


BBC 2/4/03; Washington Post 2/4/03; Wall Street Journal 2/4/03; Feminist Daily News

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