[A-List] UK sub-imperialism: Afghanistan
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed Dec 11 06:59:51 MST 2002
Short backs military move to restore order in Afghanistan
Patrick Wintour, chief political correspondent
Wednesday December 11, 2002
Clare Short, the international development secretary, yesterday suggested
that the remit of international security forces might be extended beyond
Kabul to include other big cities in Afghanistan in an attempt to restore
law and order in the country.
British troops could be involved.
Ms Short told MPs on the international development select committee that the
extension of security beyond the capital was a necessary precondition for
better education and health in the still lawless country. But she rejected
claims that the £4.5bn set aside at the Tokyo reconstruction summit was
being whittled away in emergency relief work.
The Afghan government, led by President Hamid Karzai, has claimed that the
Tokyo money is being used to manage the higher than expected return of
refugees and continuing food supply problems in the south of the country.
The Afghans have also become disillusioned that so much of the money has
taken the form of loans, as opposed to grants.
The extension of the remit of the international security force is widely
backed by members of the select committee. They visited the country last
month and claim that Mr Karzai's lack of authority means he is little more
than mayor of Kabul.
The final decision rests with the US. The Americans have been instinctively
opposed to nation building in the country. But US officials indicated
yesterday that Washington was considering setting up a team comprising up to
70 US army civil affairs officers, special forces and security troops in the
eastern Afghan town of Gardez within 30 days. The team would form a model
for other towns in Afghanistan.
In the Commons yesterday the Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien conceded
the continuing dominance of the warlords means little progress would be made
in the short term in reducing the country's dependence on the heroin trade.
"We cannot promise people that we can do that overnight, it will take time,"
he said. "I suspect poppy production will rise before it will fall because
we need to establish substantial levels of control, and building an Afghan
national army requires time and effort, resources and facilities."
It has been claimed that heroin production in Afghanistan has soared by up
to 1,400% since the war on terror and the fall of the Taliban, which had
banned opium poppy crops in July 2000.
One UN official has predicted that this year's crop will be between 1,900
and 2,700 tonnes, compared with 185 tonnes last year.
More information about the A-List