Thursday, August 18, 2005


In case you were wondering, no, there is no good news.

ALMOST four years after the defeat of the Taliban, efforts to rebuild Afghanistan face a "real and worrying risk of failure", the British Government has warned.

Terrorism remains an ever-present threat and opium production is spreading, it says, while large parts of the country's infrastructure are in tatters and UN targets for improving basic services such as education and water will not be met.

See also: Afghan Mission to Last 20 Years, for the more giddily optomistic view.


Blogger Management said...

Afghanistan 'at risk of failure'
Correspondents in Kabul

ALMOST four years after the defeat of the Taliban, efforts to rebuild Afghanistan face a "real and worrying risk of failure", the British Government has warned.

Terrorism remains an ever-present threat and opium production is spreading, it says, while large parts of the country's infrastructure are in tatters and UN targets for improving basic services such as education and water will not be met.

The assessment, by the Department for International Development, says that unless the Afghan Government delivers improvements, the people could lose faith in their nascent democracy.

The report was published shortly before the start in Kabul of the campaign for next month's national assembly and provincial council elections.

A total of 5800 candidates are running for office, of whom 582 are women, and a huge security operation is planned to stop terrorists disrupting the process.

Officials hope the elections will lead to a more stable and peaceful Afghanistan, but the British report on Afghanistan says the obstacles are immense.

"The political consensus is unstable, with continued insurgency in parts of the country and terrorism an ever-present threat," it says.

"Governance problems - notably high corruption, limited capacity and dysfunctional institutions - affect everything.

"The drugs trade is a major threat to the rule of law.

"Afghanistan's security, reconstruction and political challenges are inextricably interlinked. The risks of failure are real and worrying."

A UN drug report in June said cultivation of the opium poppy had risen from 80,000ha to 131,000ha last year, and the British fear a bumper harvest next year. The report says: "Cultivation is moving to new provinces and without a sustained and integrated Afghan-led effort to consolidate progress, may increase further in 2006."

Britain is in charge of the international poppy eradication drive. However, one British intelligence anti-narcotics specialist said that it could take 20 years to break the back of the country's heroin business.

"If we fail to deal with the drugs challenge, it will spread terrorism and regional instability, which will undermine all the work the international community is trying to do in Afghanistan," the specialist said.

According to the report, Afghanistan "is unlikely to achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015" -- a reference to eight UN targets that include universal primary education and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

It says there has been "remarkable progress" since 2001, with 3.5million returned refugees, 60,000 former combatants disarmed and almost 2000 schools built or refurbished. But three out of five Afghan girls do not attend school, life expectancy is 45 and one in five children dies before five years of age.

The report adds: "Large parts of Afghanistan's infrastructure are in tatters; in rural areas it has never been developed.

"The vast majority of Afghans do not have access to electricity or safe water. For some mountainous villages, the nearest road is two weeks' walk away."

Economic growth has slowed from the initial surge of 29per cent in 2002 to 16per cent in 2003 and 8 per cent last year.

Britain is spending pound stg. 500million ($1.19billion) from 2002-07 on Afghanistan's development.

The Times

11:23 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Afghan mission to last 20 years
Canada will help break cycle of `warlords'
`There are things worth dying for ... worth killing for'


ORILLIA—Canadian soldiers can expect to be in Afghanistan for the next 20 years, fighting, killing and dying, one of Canada's top generals says.

"Afghanistan is a 20-year venture," Maj.-Gen. Andrew Leslie told the annual Couchiching Summer Conference yesterday.

Leslie warned that the war-torn country is going to need a long-term commitment from Canada to help it "break out of the cycle of warlords and tribalism."

And the results will be worth the cost, both in blood and time, he promised attendees of the conference in Orillia, on the shore of Lake Couchiching.

"There are things worth fighting for. There are things worth dying for. There are things worth killing for," Leslie told the conference.

"Your soldiers have done all three of those activities in the last 50 years.

"More of that activity is about to take place," he said, warning of "predators ... who wish to kill those whom we are charged to protect."

Still, no one should expect answers to come pouring out of the barrel of a gun, Leslie cautioned.

"Every time you kill an angry young man overseas, you're creating 15 more who will come after you," he said.

"You have to be prepared for the consequences."

About 80 Canadian troops touched down at a U.S. military base just outside Kandahar aboard two C-130 Hercules military aircraft late last month, part of what will be a 250-strong provincial reconstruction team, or PRT, the first such team Canada has sent to Afghanistan.

Also last month, Gen. Rick Hillier, Canada's chief of defence staff, warned that there could be casualties from this mission, as there have been in and around Kabul, where Canadian soldiers continue patrolling the streets as part of a NATO-led international force.

Three Canadian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in Kabul, where nearly 700 of this country's troops remain.

Leslie told his Couchiching audience that the Canadian commitment will require both money and people who can provide security and relief while Afghanistan outgrows its violent past.

Leslie was taking part in a tradition that goes back 74 years, when Canadians gather for a summer weekend at Lake Couchiching to talk about the biggest issues of their times.

The topic of this year's conference was the use of force within and between nations.

Canada's upcoming mission to help stabilize Afghanistan's Kandahar region — and the good chance the country's soldiers will soon engage in combat — cast a long shadow over the four-day discussion.

Leslie said both the Taliban and Al Qaeda have roots in Kandahar and the region is still considered to be a hotbed for terrorists — the very people Canadian soldiers might soon meet in combat.

Leslie said security has, in the past, been largely seen as a military affair. But in today's world it's a much more complicated issue.

"Patterns of behaviour and beliefs about sovereignty, economics, national interests, national values, social development, the willingness to help others, a drive towards democratic institutions and representational government, the rule of law, quality of life, human rights and national culture are all parts of the larger equation of security requirements and potential solutions," he said.

Another speaker in yesterday's Couchiching session was Nancy Gordon, senior vice-president of the relief agency CARE Canada.

CARE has been doing humanitarian work in Afghanistan through the years of the Soviet invasion and the Taliban's fundamentalist government.

Gordon told the audience that the military is necessary for providing security in dangerous parts of the world.

"For a non-governmental organization like CARE, access is key.

"If Canadian forces can stabilize the environment in the Kandahar region and expand access, they will have achieved enormous success," Gordon said.

But when it comes to providing relief to people who are suffering, Gordon said military and non-governmental organizations must make sure their roles are clearly defined.

"We try to show in every aspect of our behaviour that we are not taking sides," Gordon said.

"We hope and think that the military should not engage in the kind of human relief work we do.

"If the military people attempt to win hearts and minds, or win loyalty with gifts of relief, there's a dangerous blurring of function.

"Dangerous for everyone involved."

In other words, the soldiers need to protect people while the relief workers need to help make life better.

Leslie was asked if Canada is likely to see the mission through even if it takes decades.

"I can't say what Canada's mood will be 15 to 20 years from now," he replied.

But Leslie offered his own opinion.

"I'm pretty confident Canada will stick it out for however long it takes."

11:24 AM  

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