Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Report on Afghanistan

I've just had a chance to peruse a report on Afghanistan written by a British Conservative MP, Tobis Ellwood.

We've had an ongoing debate about Iraq as to what degree one hsould have devolution of power from the center to regions and to ethnically-defined entities. With regard to Afghanistan, Ellwood writes:

• Dissatisfaction with President Karzai’s administration is growing. The entire administration is seen by much of the country (particularly the old Northern Alliance) as corrupt.

• The centralised model of Government represses any tribal, ethnic, or cultural differences, rather than celebrating them. Consequently there is growing resentment that Kabul based power is now being abused.

• Although the centralised model hinders corrupt Governors from exploiting their local power base, there is little provision to reward the growing number of potentially more accountable regional leaders with responsibility or operational funding. Hence a growing level of resentment with Kabul.

His last section is interesting as well. It is entitled, "Proposals that Conservatives might consider":

• Call for an immediate, independent assessment of the state of Afghanistan (similar to the Iraq Study Group) in order to publicly acknowledge the critical state of affairs and the need for urgent reform.

• Appointment of a senior co-ordinator, approved by the UN, EU, US and Britain and a merger of international offices to improve political cohesion and co-ordination. (Note: Tom Koenig, head of UNAMA, is about to retire)

• Agreement of an Afghan led national plan to boost the agricultural market with a) railway and b) irrigation systems and small and medium sized dam constructions.

• Review of ISAF’s involvement in Afghanistan with a view to reconciling caveats that have led to the two tiers of commitment.

• Consideration, where appropriate, of empowering provisional Governors with funds to run ring-fenced projects.

• Consideration of preliminary peace talks with the Taliban.

• Incorporation of the majority of OEF forces into NATO command.

Peace talks with the Taliban? Not likely. And this is advice for conservatives?
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