During a visit to Germany by Secretary of State Colin Powell, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for the expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond Kabul. Since Germany currently leads the peacekeeping force of some 4,500 troops, Schroeder’s statement prompted NPR reporter Emilie Harris to speculate on whether his announcement signals a possible shift in U.S. policy.
Despite murder of aid workers, attacks on de-mining operations, Taliban-like restrictions in some provinces, factional fighting, and the bombing of girls’ schools, the US has refused to provide the support necessary to allow the expansion of international peacekeeping forces outside of the capitol of Afghanistan. Instead, the US is establishing provincial regional teams (PRTs) in 7 locations with 10-60 to provide some security and reconstruction assistance. PRTs have been established in only 3 areas thus far, and fall far short of the peace troop size that many believe is necessary to achieve and sustain peace and security in the country. In February, in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. called for 15,000 troops to provide peace keeping support. Last week, UN Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi repeated his call for expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul in order to ensure that the development of a new constitution, voter registration, and the 2004 elections proceed fairly and democratically.
The Feminist Majority continues leading the call for ISAF expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.