UN Envoy, NATO Commander Condemn Inaction on Afghan Peace Troop Expansion

Both UN special envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi and NATO Chief George Robertson have warned that the consequences to Afghanistan’s future will be disastrous if the international community does not immediately provide the resources and personnel to expand international peacekeeping forces throughout the country.

The UN Security Council, NATO, and even the United States – which had been the primary obstacle to peace troop expansion – finally agreed a few months ago to support the expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond Kabul. However, only a few hundred additional troops have been deployed and there are no plans for the full-fledged expansion that the United Nations, Afghan government, Afghan women leaders, and women’s rights and human rights organizations believe is necessary for democracy, reconstruction, and human rights.

Brahimi stated that because of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan the country will be too unstable to hold scheduled elections in June. He expressed his frustrations with the international community that supports civilian involvement in Afghanistan but refuses to commit adequate numbers of peace troops in an interview with the Financial Times, saying “I told the Security Council several times: ‘What the hell? You told me to go to Afghanistan.’ Now when I tell you I have some security concerns you tell me: ‘You stay there, but it’s too dangerous for our soldiers.’ What kind of lousy logic is that?”

Robertson, in his last address before ending his four-year term as NATO chief, stated similar concerns. “Money, troops and long-term commitment are the only ingredients of success and the only way Afghanistan’s problems will not come West to haunt us. Failure would be a crushing blow, not just for NATO but for each and every NATO country, each and every international organization, and for the concept of multilateralism in international relations,” said Robertson according to Agence France Presse. NATO assumed command of the 5,300-troop international peacekeeping force in August.

Women’s rights, human rights, and Afghan groups, in an open letter last week, again called on President Bush to take action to support full scale expansion of international peacekeeping forces as well as stronger protections for women’s rights and human rights in the Afghan constitution, which is being debated at the Loya Jirga in Kabul.

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Financial Times 12/16/03; UN Wire 12/17/03; AFP 12/17/03

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