What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

At last, an Uruzgan update

MStFB Uruzgan Series update
At last I'm getting down to writing an update to my Uruzgan Series. There are two things to be covered here today.
The first issue is the future of the Dutch mission in Uruzgan. One knew in advance that the decision about whether it will be extended beyond mid-2008 could be taken possibly as late as September, but now it seems like it was postponed till October even (Expatica, August 20). Difficult decision, really, so I'm not surprised time is taken making it. Expatica also writes: "International talks are under way about a third country possibly joining the Dutch and Australian troops in Uruzgan, he (Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende - P.M.) added. Dutch public Radio 1 news said Germany and France were potential partners for the ISAF mission in Uruzgan."
Gott im Himmel! Mon Dieu! C'est la révolution!
But not really. I have named a possible third country several times before on this blog, and "Gott im Himmel", or "Mon Dieu", sounds different there. I'm not sure how, since I don't speak that language. I do know, however, that God is Gud in Norwegian... Oops, my Gud, I'm a bit talkative. Anyway, yes, it's Norway, actually. Well, maybe it's not such a big secret, after all today's Norwegian Aftenposten had this article published: "Government split after Dutch request for troops" (Aftenposten, August 29). As the title indicates, it's nothing sure yet. On the "left" of the political spectrum they are ready, it seems: "the Norwegian government has never principally decided not to send troops to southern Afghanistan", as this well-meaning double negation makes it obvious. But "further to the left" there is resistance to the idea (hence it's the Arbeiderpartiet (Labour) v. the Sosialistisk Venstreparti, the match-up on this subject, which means in-house fighting between two of three members of Norway's "centre-left-further left" governing coalition).
Meanwhile, for a decision to extend the Dutch mission, PM Balkenende will need support from outside his coalition as I pointed to this before, and one of the most likely supporters is the VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy). You can read at the Uruzgan Weblog about VVD leader Mark Rutte currently touring Uruzgan, with high-ranking NATO escort, to "broaden his perspective" (literal quote). I bet this will work. So while nothing is sure yet, it seems like for a while beyond mid-2008 we possibly could have a Dutch-led Dutch-Australian-Norwegian trio present in Uruzgan, preceding the possible Australian-led Australian-Dutch-Norwegian trio I've speculated about before.
The other, the second issue I wanted to bring up, is that of whether the June and July car bombings (in Tarin Kowt and in Deh Rawod, respectively) in Uruzgan have eventually resulted in Dutch troops staying back more at their bases as a result, as one Dutch daily, the conservative De Telegraaf once reported at the time. I have mentioned that report with a question mark here, and so that question mark leaves me with some responsibility to return to the subject. Well, I haven't found signs of such staying back recently, in fact I have only found signs of the opposite.
One very obvious sign from near Deh Rawod: a Dutch soldier was killed on Sunday by an IED on a counter-IED patrol north of Deh Rawod. This happened near a place called Chutu (a river crossing), according to a map on the Uruzgan Weblog. Chutu is not far from Keshay, and this is what happened towards the end of July around Keshay: a large clash between the ANA and insurgents (you can also read about it here, and learn that one Afghan soldier was killed in that clash). It's definitely not an area that you would venture into on a counter-IED mission, if you were looking for absolute security.
What about elsewhere? I was glad to come across this blog anyway, by an American officer assigned to a Police Mentor Team in Uruzgan, and it also gave me an answer regarding Chora district. Here is a link to a post where, towards the end, you'll find even a firefight described in detail (the latter involving ANP, ANA, Dutch OMLTs, and the U.S. PMT). Beside the fact of that firefight there is a lot more info in that post on activities going on, activities called "increased" at one point.
Well, that's all I wanted to telegraph today.
Update (September 4): The blog I'm referring to in the penultimate paragraph, which I was glad to come across as I said, has now disappeared from the internet. Maybe it wasn't meant to be linked to. Anyway, good luck to its author.

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