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Updated: 12-Jul-2004

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

09 July 2004

  • Parliamentary elections likely to be delayed again
  • Britain funding campaign to combat drug trade


  • According to the New York Times, Afghan and foreign officials said in Kabul Thursday parliamentary elections, a central part of the American-led effort to establish a stable democracy in Afghanistan, are nearly certain to be delayed once again, probably until next spring. President Karzai was expected to make a decision on a further delay this weekend. The newspaper reports that the Afghan commission charged with scheduling the elections voted for the postponement Thursday, after two days of consultations with the cabinet. It adds that the presidential elections, far easier to organize than the balloting to elect a Parliament, are still expected to go ahead on or around Oct. 12. The officials in Kabul reportedly pointed to three basic reasons for the latest postponement, the first being the fear that regional warlords would dominate the process and, by winning key posts, distort the democratic process for years to come. The second was the deteriorating security situation. The third concern was the overwhelming logistical and technical hurdles facing the election organizers. UN and Afghan election officials recommended to the cabinet Tuesday that parliamentary balloting should be delayed by two to six months, taking into mind the Moslem month of fasting, which starts in October, and the onset of the Afghan winter, which makes many parts of the country inaccessible, the daily adds. It quotes one official saying the election commission had recommended a six-month delay.

  • Britain is funding a £100 million campaign to combat the explosion in the drugs trade in Afghanistan, which is fueling violence and anarchy, reports The Independent. Pressure from the British government has also led to changes in the rules of engagement for international peacekeeping forces, allowing them greater scope to seize heroin consignments and destroy poppy fields, the newspaper claims, adding: “It is believed that British troops earmarked for Iraq will be deployed in Afghanistan for elections scheduled for September. NATO allies are also being pressed to send additional troops.”

A commentary in Duesseldorf’s Handelsblatt, July 8, urged Europe’s “big four” to send more forces to Afghanistan.
Madrid has decided to send about 900 additional soldiers to Afghanistan. In an almost exemplary manner, the Spanish government is heeding NATO’s call to considerably strengthen the efforts to stabilize the Central Asian nation. But unfortunately, Spain is largely alone: in all, the Alliance has only achieved a 1,500-man reinforcement for Afghanistan, the article said. Claiming that, in particular, the four major EU nations are not fulfilling their responsibility, it added: The British Army appears to be overtaxed with its missions in Afghanistan and in Iraq. France is sending a joint brigade together with the Germans. But the engagement in Afghanistan by no means corresponds with the French capabilities. Italy, too, is not playing a major role. As far as Germany is concerned, the government is proudly pointing out that with 1,900 soldiers, Germany has the largest national contingent in ISAF. But the Bundeswehr could do significantly more. “In order to save the coalition a new test of strength, the government absolutely does not want to provoke another Bundestag decision. Therefore …, the largest EU nation will not be able to send more than those 2,250 soldiers, who are stipulated as the upper limit in the current mandate,” the newspaper stressed.

Kabul Times, July 4, praised the consensus on ISAF’s expansion expressed by NATO heads of state and government at the Istanbul summit.
The newspaper commented: “The NATO leaders’ preparedness to increase ISAF is a welcome move and a big step toward realization of the Alliance’s commitment for peace and stability in Afghanistan. NATO’s preparedness to form more PRTs in some provinces is another bold step toward boosting peace and security in those regions. The support given by NATO to the Karzai administration and the trust shown in his leadership is a … matter of pride for the Afghan nation in general. NATO’s physical presence in the provinces will prevent the further subversive activities by terrorist elements and will prepare the ground for carrying out our reconstruction activities throughout the country. It will also develop the trust and confidence of some international NGOs who have ceased their operations in the remote parts of the country largely due to security concerns.”



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