British parliamentary committee: Afghanistan could implode
CNN.com, July 29, 2004
By HAMIDA GHAFOUR
A British parliamentary committee has warned that Afghanistan is likely to "implode, with terrible consequences" unless more troops and resources are sent to calm the country.
The all-party Foreign Affairs Select Committee, in a report released Thursday, said warlord violence and the struggle between U.S.-led troops and insurgents continues to be a threat to security in Afghanistan.
The wide-ranging report on the war against terrorism also said raised concerns over the failure of the UK government and its allies to limit the production of opium in Afghanistan.
The warlords and private militias who were once regarded as the west's staunchest allies in Afghanistan are now a greater threat to the country's security than the Taliban, according to the interim president, Hamid Karzai.
The Guardian (London), July 13, 2004
"There is a real danger if these resources are not provided soon that Afghanistan -- a fragile state in one of the most sensitive and volatile regions of the world -- could implode, with terrible consequences," the committee says in its report.
Afghanistan, which is grappling with a growing drug trade and sporadic violence, is a key security concern for the West two years after the coalition toppled the militant Islamic Taliban regime for harboring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
There are about 20,000 U.S.-led troops and 6,500 NATO-led peacekeepers in Afghanistan.
However, warlords have yet to be disarmed and a Taliban and al Qaeda insurgency is persisting in the south and east.
"We recommend that the government impress upon its NATO allies the need to deliver on their promises to help Afghanistan before it is too late, both for the credibility of the alliance and, more importantly, for the people of Afghanistan."
The committee, chaired by Labour MP Donald Anderson, also stressed the need to do more to the win the war of drugs.
"We conclude that there is little, if any, sign of the war on drugs being won, and every indication that the situation is likely to deteriorate, at least in the short term," the report says.
"We recommend that the government, which is in the lead on the counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan, explain in its response to this report exactly how it proposes to meet the targets of reducing opium poppy cultivation by 75 percent by 2008, and eradicating it completely by 2013."
The United States said Friday the security threat to all American citizens in Afghanistan has become critical.
The new travel warning, which supersedes the one issued in February, strongly warned U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan.
"There is an ongoing threat to kidnap and assassinate U.S. citizens and non- governmental organization workers throughout the country," the warning said.
The State Department also warned Americans that the Afghan authorities' ability to "maintain order and ensure the security of citizens and visitors is limited."
UPI, July 30, 2004
The report comes one day the international relief group Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was pulling out of Afghanistan after 24 years because of security concerns and frustrations with the U.S. military.
MSF -- or Doctors Without Borders -- blamed the Afghan government for failing to catch and prosecute attackers who killed five MSF workers earlier this year.
The group had about 80 international volunteers and 1,400 Afghan staff working in the country before the June attack.
Marine Buissonniere, MSF's international secretary, told a news conference Wednesday in Kabul that more than 30 aid workers had been killed since the beginning of the year.
MSF also blamed the Taliban, who have specifically threatened its aid workers, and the U.S.-backed coalition for the unsettled situation in Afghanistan.
The coalition has "blurred" the image of aid workers as it attempted to "win hearts and minds," MSF said in a statement.
On Iraq, the committee concluded that Al Qaeda had turned Iraq into a "battleground" with appalling consequences for the country's people.
The committee said the coalition's failure to establish law and order in parts of the country had, in addition, created a "vacuum" into which criminals and militias had poured.
The MPs concluded that an insufficient number of foreign troops deployed to Iraq had contributed to the deterioration in security.
At a news conference, Anderson called for the international community to work together to improve the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and "to make sure that those who wish to wreck progress do not prevail."
"It's overwhelmingly important that we work together to make sure that if things can go either way, that they go the right way," he said.
He warned that the consequences of not ensuring peace and normality in Iraq "may be a failed state and regional instability."
"No one can pretend that everything in the country is going well," he said.
Asked whether the Iraq war had increased the threat of terrorism, Anderson replied: "Clearly there are elements of al Qaeda that are there that were not there before."