Amid concerns over security in Afghanistan, UN extends international force
After holding an extensive discussion on the latest developments in Afghanistan, particularly what a UN official described as a “worrying” security situation, the United Nations Security Council today decided to extend the authorization of an international force currently deployed in Kabul.
Acting unanimously, the Council adopted a resolution authorizing States participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to take all necessary measures to fulfil its mandate, and called on countries to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources to the effort.
Briefing the Council at the outset of the debate that involved representatives from some two dozen countries, Kieran Prendergast, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, cautioned that in the absence of an expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul, the UN and the Interim Administration felt the international community should address legitimate security issues as quickly as possible.
Mr. Prendergast referred in particular to the “worrying situation” in Mazar-i-Sharif, despite a separation of forces agreement between rival warlords brokered by the UN. He said the same was true for “the overall security environment in other parts of the country, in particular in the East and South of Afghanistan.”
“I am sure that the international community is fully aware that all its political and financial efforts in support of a new Afghanistan would be seriously compromised by a lack of tangible progress in the security environment,” Mr. Prendergast observed. “For example, we cannot expect a sustained reconstruction process to be launched in Afghanistan without real improvements in security outside Kabul and its environs.”
Reporting on the “Loya Jirga” process, he noted that the first phase of this key component of Afghanistan’s political transition had been far from perfect, citing reports of numerous cases of intimidation by local military and political leaders.
“Many of the obstacles in Phase I of the Loya Jirga were caused by the uncertain security situation,” he said. “It is clear that different parts of the country remain under the sway of different commanders.”
At the same time, Mr. Prendergast noted that in many ways Phase I had been better than expected. “For example,” he said, “turnout at most assemblies was in the thousands. Often, this compelling popular support was sufficient to resist intimidation or successfully to contest pre-rigged outcomes.”
During the Council’s debate, numerous speakers echoed Mr. Prendergast’s concern over the security situation in Afghanistan, and highlighted the importance of ensuring the smooth conduct of the upcoming Loya Jirga, or tribal council. There were also calls for international support for reconstruction and recovery in Afghanistan, with a number of participants pledging their countries’ financial backing for this goal.
- Security Council meeting