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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Updates, on several issues

Sorry for not having posted much this week. The latter couple of days were full of events. I learned a lot about Afghanistan, even while not spending this last week there, thanks to all the interesting people I met. I'll be looking to get back to the normal frequency of posting now, but first here are some updates regarding issues I'm regularly covering.
Baghlan bombing update
I have just had the chance yesterday to talk to someone who confirmed to me that it's perfectly normal that a policeman was recording the arrival of the delegation of Wolesi Jirga members at the Baghlan sugar factory on camera, on the tragic day of November 6, as they would always be filming events of this kind. (This is just for the attention of those who might have thought this odd - with the role of the police being questioned after Baghlan's police chief was away from the province on the day of the blast.)
Talking about the political reaction voicing suspicion over where key provincial officials were on November 6, here's a short excerpt, via RFA, from November 26:
" In a stormy session of the Wolesi Jirga on November 26, speaker Yunos Qanuni repeated a demand that six senior officials responsible for security in the northern Baghlan Province be dismissed and then led a walkout by several dozen deputies, Bakhtar News Agency and international agencies reported. Opposition leader Qanuni cited the findings of an investigative committee dispatched to Baghlan by the Wolesi Jirga after a devastating suicide bombing on November 6 that killed six members of parliament along with scores of schoolchildren and bystanders. "
The demand mentioned includes the wish to have Baghlan's provincial governor sacked. Seems like the stakes are being raised and success in the campaign to have Mohammed Alam Ishaqzai removed may be the UNF's definition of victory for now. The governor is a Pashtun who previously served as an official in Nangarhar province - Péter Wagner has a brief, speculative sort of bio of his with links, in Hungarian, on his blog. (Péter even speculates that at a press conference here in Budapest, Mohammed Alam Ishaqzai may have said a few words in Russian, as someone seems to have overheard that, which might suggest that he studied either in Tajikistan or somewhere else, back in the Soviet Union. Here's a picture of him, he's standing on the right (of course) - on the left you see Hungarian foreign minister Kinga Göncz (source):
It seems like the Karzai government may be bending to the UNF's will to have some officials removed, but, as I have to realise, not necessarily the officials the UNF would like to see removed, as IHT reports:
" Interior Minister Zarar Ahmad Muqbal said the government team investigating the blast blamed negligent local officials for forcing hundreds of students to greet a group of a dozen lawmakers visiting a sugar factory.
"This caused high casualty numbers from the incident," Muqbal told a news conference after presenting the findings to President Hamid Karzai. "Some of these officials will be dismissed, some replaced and others will face justice." "
Uruzgan Series update
The Dutch government's formal decision to extend the Uruzgan mission by two years, till 2010, was set to be presented to the Dutch public and the Dutch parliament today, and in fact it came according to schedule.
Meanwhile, I'm not sure about what the future Hungarian contribution to the Uruzgan mission will exactly amount to. About the OMLTs I'm hearing that "it is being examined" if they are needed somewhere around Mazar-i-Sharif rather, instead of Uruzgan. But as I noted back when the possibility of a Hungarian contribution first came up, official announcements were rather vague, so we shall see. Perhaps there could be something instead of the OMLTs then.
Update (December 5): I have just read that the Dutch parliamentary debate on the decision to extend the mission is to come in "three weeks' time" - I'd suppose that could be still this year, before Christmas (if I count from November 30, the day of the formal government decision). But in fact I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the decision would come only at the beginning of next year. We'll see.

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