- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

NEW YORK U.N. Security Council members agree in principle that it is vital to get a multinational force into Kabul next week to secure the Afghan capital before the interim administration assumes power on Dec. 22.
But exactly what that force will do, where it will be deployed and how it will respond to threats are among the issues delaying the authorizing resolution.
Many nations are also concerned about how the new force will coordinate with U.S. troops still in Afghanistan to root out the last of the Taliban and al Qaeda militants.
Diplomats said the French and Russian officials want the details spelled out in the resolution the council expects to adopt tomorrow or early next week. But the British and Americans want to leave the wording a bit more vague to allow for flexibility in the field.
"The French, Russians and the Chinese want everything in the mandate, but we want it to be left a little open," said a U.S. official. "We don't think it needs to be spelled out all that clearly, for maximum flexibility."
The official also expressed concern about the coordination of the two foreign forces. "There has to be a direct link, although not a tight one" between the international coalition and U.S. Central Command Gen. Tommy Franks, said one U.S. official.
The Americans have indicated they would not accept interference with U.S. objectives in Afghanistan from the international force. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is widely expected to announce today that his country will take the leading role in the international force, similar to the Australian-led coalition that stabilized East Timor until a U.N. force could be deployed.
However, diplomats said yesterday, London is still uneasy about whether it can count on U.S. air and logistical support for the nascent force.
"They are afraid they will be left holding the bag that the Americans will leave after they're done with al Qaeda," said one envoy. The so-called "coalition of the willing" will include troops from France, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Canada, among others. Military officials from these nations are already in London for a planning meeting for the eventual force.
The United States, Russia, Japan and other countries are expected to offer logistical or financial support, rather than soldiers, and the resolution will likely establish a trust fund for these contributions.
The Afghan force will be blessed by the U.N. Security Council, but the United Nations will not control or fund it. Nonetheless, U.N. officials are saying that it's important to get at least the first deployment of troops into Kabul before Dec. 22, when the Afghan leaders selected in Bonn, Germany, arrive to start governing their shattered country.
"I expect the Security Council to provide a mandate for the force in the next couple of days, before the end of this week, latest early next week," said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, speaking to reporters in Stockholm on Wednesday.
Mr. Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, are to meet the council behind closed doors this afternoon. The five permanent Security Council members met yesterday but came up with no conclusive framework for the mission.
"Our primary concern is that the draft be acceptable for the Afghan side," said a Russian diplomat, who acknowledged that the Bonn agreement clearly asked for assistance in bringing stability to Kabul so the various parties could work in peace.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide