Security Concerns May Delay Afghan Elections, US May Arm Militias

Elections in Afghanistan that were planned for June may be postponed due to increased security threats. According to EurasiaNet, a leading expert on Afghanistan, Ahmed Rashid, cites the lack of security and the lack of international funding as the main reason for the possible postponement of the elections. Rashid also expressed his grave concern about the US discussion of creating a so-called Afghan Guard by rebuilding and arming militias that would undermine the United Nations disarmament program. According to the Financial Times, there are approximately 110,000 fighters in the militia groups. The Feminist Majority is concerned that the arming of local militias to increase security would worsen rather than solve the security problems in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Chief Acquisition Officer of the US Agency for International Development Timothy Beans stated that the “security situation [in Afghanistan] is dominating everything.” Beans reported that a lot of people want to go out to Afghanistan to work but the ongoing problem is the security situation that exists.

According to the New York Times, five Afghan aid workers were killed in an ambush just outside Kabul yesterday. More than a hundred people have been killed since the beginning of this year, including humanitarian aid workers, government officials, and foreign and Afghan security forces. Despite the dire security situation in Afghanistan, peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan are a small contingent of some 5,500. Without security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to obtain their rights and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.

The Feminist Majority is leading the call for international peacekeeping force (ISAF) expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

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EurasiaNet 2/24/04; New York Times 2/26/04; Financial Times 2/12/04; Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Economic Policy hearing 2/265/04

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