Daily Telegraph, October 25, 2007

Afghanistan is lost, says Lord Ashdown

"Some people refer to the First and Second World Wars as European civil wars and I think a similar regional civil war could be initiated by this [failure] to match this magnitude."

By Tom Coghlan

Nato has "lost in Afghanistan" and its failure to bring stability there could provoke a regional sectarian war "on a grand scale", according to Lord Ashdown.

The former United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina delivered his dire prediction after being proposed as a new "super envoy" role in Afghanistan.

Lord Ashdown said: "We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely."

The assessment will be considered extreme by some diplomats but timely by those pressing for more resources for Nato operations.

"The government and human rights organisations have claimed that the situation is improving, but in reality the commanders are gradually gaining the upper hand, and the government can't do anything about it," said Mohammad Nabi Aseer, a journalist and analyst in northern Afghanistan.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting, Oct.18, 2007

Lord Ashdown added: "I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq. It will mean that Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite [Shia], Sunni regional war on a grand scale.

"Some people refer to the First and Second World Wars as European civil wars and I think a similar regional civil war could be initiated by this [failure] to match this magnitude."

Lord Ashdown, 66, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, was speaking in advance of a Nato summit in the Dutch town of Noordwijk yesterday.

Britain and the US infuriated by the lack of assistance granted by allies to those countries with forces operating in Afghanistan.

The tensions are particularly acute given that members pledged a year ago that they would do everything within their power to ensure "success" in the country.

With a growing sense in Kabul that the reconstruction and military efforts are lacking focus, Britain and the US are pushing for the creation of a super envoy and are looking for a political heavyweight to fill the role.

Both countries consider that Tom Koenigs, the current UN special representative to Kabul who is a former regional politician in Germany, lacks the international standing to fulfil such a role. He will complete his posting by Christmas.

The US government and its allies have committed an unforgivable betrayal to our people by mounting the Jehadi mafias in the power. They have left no doubt for our people and the world that they are after their own global and regional interests and that they have no use for stability, freedom and democracy in Afghanistan.
From RAWA statement ( http://www.rawa.org/events/march8-07_e.htm ), March 8, 2007

It is understood that the super envoy would have the existing duties of the UN representative but also greater powers to co-ordinate the rebuilding of the country after decades of war. Progress in reconstruction and development - especially in the violent south - has been sporadic and considered largely unsatisfactory by the international community.

However, there remains widespread discussion over the precise remit that the new figure would have, particularly in relation to any oversight they might have of Nato operations and Operation Enduring Freedom, the US's separate mission.

A spokesman at the British Embassy in Kabul told The Daily Telegraph: "There is an important role for the United Nations to play in co-ordinating efforts in Afghanistan and we would like to see the international effort better co-ordinated."

A senior diplomat who declined to be named said: "The overall leadership here is that of President Karzai.

"So whoever takes on this role needs to be able to co-ordinate the international community but also serve the interests and structures of a sovereign state."

Apart from Lord Ashdown, candidates under consideration for the new enhanced role include Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, the serving French foreign minister, and Jaroslav Kaczynski, the former Polish prime minister who lost Sunday's general election.

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