At United Nations Security Council briefing yesterday, Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi called the security situation in Afghanistan “unstable and insufficient.” Brahimi called for the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) outside of Kabul to the rest of Afghanistan in order to support the development of a new constitution, voter registration, and the 2004 elections. “The issue of security … casts a long shadow over the whole peace process and, indeed, over the whole future of Afghanistan,” Brahimi said, according to Reuters.
While the US government has refused to support the expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond Kabul, they are now assembling an international peace force to foster security in Iraq nationwide. Early reports indicate that Iraq will be split into several sectors with different countries securing different sectors, according to BBC News. A division of about 20,000 US troops will run the central sector, including Baghdad, BBC reports. The US may fund Poland to send between 1,500 and 2,200 troops to secure the northern sector of Iraq.
Unlike Iraq, American presence in Afghanistan has been limited to about 9,000 troops countrywide, with an additional 4,800 international peacekeeping troops concentrated in Kabul. “With so few troops in Afghanistan and without a national Afghan army or police force, our lack of commitment to international peacekeeping troops is essentially turning Afghanistan over to the warlords and a lack of security,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “These are the conditions that fostered the rise of the Taliban in the first place.” 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.