August 27, 2010 – A meeting was held this past weekend at the US embassy in Kabul where the larger development organizations and NGOs presented the possibility that they would pull out of Afghanistan if they did not find themselves operating under secure conditions. Conditions for NGOS and foreign development agencies will never be secure until they can convince the Afghani people of their credibility and good intent. So far, the only concern of Afghanis remains to be the civilian death toll.
Afghani President Hamid Karzai ordered the withdrawal of all foreign security contractors from the country within four months. Karzai defended his decision to disband private security contractors, charging that they loot and steal, have links to criminal groups and might even fund insurgencies. Karzai issued orders on Saturday to immediately begin dismantling the security firms.
– In order to fill the void left by the departing foreign security companies, Interior Ministry spokesman Zamary Bashari announced that a donor-funded project, which has already begun, will see about 10, 000 previously jobless Afghani men and youth paid to maintain security.
“It’s not a militia force. It’s a community police which will defend its homes and villages from the enemy.” It is disturbing that this initiative will unfortunately reinforce the dependence on guns and arms in the country. My other concern is that this outfit will turn into a vigilante force if left unmonitored with no transparency or accountability.
– August 28, 2010 was two years to the day that President Barrack Obama gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. In that speech Obama never mentioned Afghanistan, but he did say “America, we are better than these last eight years, we are a better country than this.” So far, in Afghanistan his first two years of office and decision-making have simply continued the same Bush policies of the last eight years. As of June 7, 2010 the Afghanistan War has become the longest war in the United States’ history. Obama made a brief stopover in Afghanistan at the beginning of April, 2010, but this week it was US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Kabul to discuss the deployment of US troops throughout the country with top US commanders. There will be an interesting power struggle in Washington over the next year in the run-up to the 2012 US election. Obama, the champion of peace (he has the Nobel Prize), will continue to fight for the troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan that will be opposed by US military brass. Fortunately, for those of us who understand how the political game and media manipulation work, Obama will be successful in his quest for a peaceful exit from Afghanistan just in time for his reelection.
– Ban Ki-Moon, head of the United Nations was also in Afghanistan this week to speak with President Karzai, There are still outstanding credibility issues from the 2009 Presidential elections, and even more so now that Karzai’s only opponent in a run-off election scheduled for November has withdrawn.
No word if Ki-Moon brought up for discussion with Karzai the sustainability of two UN-backed projects: the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR). These are the working strategies that must gather international support and succeed in Afghanistan for there to be a lasting peace.
– To follow-up on last week’s report on the interests involved in maintaining the drug trade, the fact remains that the Taliban, between 2001 and 2002, had eradicated virtually all poppy production and distribution, effectively cutting off the supply of heroin and opium to Europe and the US, the two largest markets. There are mass graves; one sight in Kunar Province has the bodies of over 1100 Afghani civilians, farmers and Taliban members, created by various warlord/drug runner allies of President Karzai, in the days leading up to the US ground-force invasion, who have aided the coalition forces in reestablishing the drug flow to their own countries.
A commission set up three years ago by the Afghanistan government has so far done nothing about addressing these war crimes and bringing warlords like Uzbek General Abdul Dostum to accountability.
Canada’s Role in Afghanistan
– The Montreal-based firm GardaWorld Security Corp., one of the four largest contractors operating in Afghanistan today, is being forced to make contingency plans after Afghani President Hamid Karzai ordered all private contractors out of the country within four months.
One loophole that Garda Corp. is exploring is simply to have their operatives listed on the payroll of the organization that they are contracted to. That way the foreign security company would still maintain a presence on the ground, despite the Afghanistan government’s decree, but would not be working under the entity of being a foreign security contactor. That would still raise the question of whether or not their agents could carry guns…
Private companies currently provide security at four Canadian operating bases in Afghanistan, which has cost Ottawa $9-million to provide this year, CTV News reported. However, the Canadian embassy is guarded by British company G4S Plc.
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the decisions made by the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeals, ordering the Canadian government to repatriate its citizen Omar Khadr. Khadr was 15 was he was abducted in Afghanistan by American forces and has spent the last eight years of his life at Guantanomo Prison. It is not clear whether Harper will ask the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to overturn its decision from 1989, that Canada was prominent in writing and ratifying, which calls on the world judicial bodies to view child soldiers as victims of war and crime, not perpetrators.
Toronto Star writer Tonda MacCharles says (August 26, 2009) that “Even some Conservatives privately admit they have been taken aback by Harper’s utter indifference to pleas about Khadr’s plight.”
Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney, describes the conditions under which Khadr is being held “as a cage in which his client is chained to the floor.” Since being held captive at Guantanomo, Khadr has lost the sight in one of his eyes.
The Weekly Update into the Afghanistan Situation and Canada’s Role in Afghanistan are published every Thursday at www.jeeroburkhan.wordpress.com