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

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Dutch government decided to extend - And other news

Based on Dutch NOS' news The Australian is already reporting the following, and the Uruzgan Weblog's webmaster had also already posted some remarks on this, that in the Netherlands the decision has now been taken that the Uruzgan mission shall be extended by about two years.
" The Dutch government has agreed to extend its contribution to the NATO-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan, according to public broadcaster NOS.Quoting ‘government circles’, NOS reports that the three coalition parties currently in government have agreed to prolong the mission by ‘about two years’. A formal decision is expected to be presented to parliament a week from now.
The NOS reports that several condition have been set:
- An exact date for the new mission will established and it will be up to NATO to seek replacement for the Dutch troops after that date;
- The number of troops deployed will be reduced from the present number of 1649 to about 1200. Four countries will take over as yet unspecified tasks: the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, and Slovakia.
- 1200 was also the the original number of troops dispatched.
- The Labour Party (gov’t) reportedly has demanded ‘firm commitments’ about the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The (current - P.M.) Dutch contribution to ISAF began on 1 August last year and will end 1 August next year. The Netherlands is the ISAF lead nation in the province of Uruzgan. "
So that much has been said. The "about two years" part is interesting, not only because it's vague, but because earlier on there was talk about an extension for eighteen months, and this therefore indicates that discussions still left might center around whether the commitment might be for longer and not whether it could still be for a shorter time only. Regarding Hungary: the tasks to be fulfilled by Hungarian units ending up there are not clarified yet. Earlier I reported how the Hungarian defence ministry announced our troops would serve in Uruzgan as OMLTs - but in fact I can confirm that based on what I've heard recently it looks like really nothing sure yet.
Meanwhile, reading an article from IWPR on problems faced in Faryab and Badghis provinces, I was reminded that earlier on there was talk of the possibility that Norwegians might be joining the Uruzgan coalition. It seems like for now such talk has been dropped. And the Norwegians are sending in reinforcements to their troops based in Maimana (in Faryab), and it looks like they have enough problems up there. Back in the spring I wrote a post with the title "Talib insurgency shows signs of geographic expansion" - well, at that time Faryab and Badghis weren't so much on my radar screen. IWPR reports:
" In Faryab, directly to the north of Badghis, the Taleban have established a foothold in mountainous areas, and are trying to expand their networks there as well. The Taleban have launched several sorties in both provinces in the past two months and claim that the Bala Murghab, Ghormach and Qades districts of Badghis are largely in their hands.
(...)
The Taleban attacked Badghis’s Bala Murghab district on September 20, in a three-hour battle that left four policemen and 20 insurgents dead. Two days later, the Taleban attacked Qaisar, a district in Faryab, resulting in the capture of an insurgent commander named as Rassulak.
On September 25, a police vehicle hit a roadside mine in the Ghormach district of Badghis, killing three and injuring four. Officials blamed the insurgents. When a helicopter belonging to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force crashed in Ghormach the same day, the Taleban claimed responsibility. Also that day, a Chinese road construction company worker was kidnapped by the insurgents in the Qaisar district.
Afghan government forces launched a counter-offensive in the Ghormach and Bala Murghab districts, and official reports put the death toll among the Taleban at more than 20. The rebels denied this.
The governor of Badghis, Ashraf Naseri, denies that the Taleban are gaining ground in his province.
“The Taleban’s claims that they have captured mountainous areas show that they are weak,” he told IWPR. “They cannot fight on flat terrain; they hide out in the mountains where normal people don’t live.”
(...)
... residents of Badghis and other northern provinces say that the Taleban now exert an influence that is felt in their daily lives.
“The Taleban have reached the area,” said Fazel Rahman, a resident of Bala Murghab district. “It is not important how many buildings are under the government’s control. The Taleban are present in the villages and many people have joined them. Unemployment and the government’s failure to help people have resulted in this situation – the Taleban are getting stronger by the day.” "
The trouble in and around Faryab seems to me to be connected to the recent worsening of the security situation in the border areas adjacent with Turkmenistan which was noted in the UN's latest half year security review. I wonder if the drugs trade might have something to do with this.
To finish off, just by the way I'll mention that CNN had a report today from Southern Afghanistan. I have to say it was extremely saddening the way mullah Naqib was introduced in that report simply as "a mullah," and that it wasn't mentioned that he has passed by now, and what that meant for Arghandab district in Kandahar recently. I know, one has to appreciate that CNN reported from southern Afghanistan, and also that such a report is never supposed to function as the equivalent of a think tank briefing. But still... And I'd say it's time to forget titles such as "don't forget Afghanistan..."
That's way too negative when heard for the thousandth time.
Anyway, go to CNN World videos and check out what I'm talking about.

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