- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 22, 2004

Afghanistan’s appeal

The Afghan ambassador is urging the West to provide “robust and immediate” security to help safeguard the country during and after next month’s presidential election in an appeal echoed by supporters of Afghanistan in Congress.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking an electoral mandate in the Oct. 9 vote, which will include 24 candidates for president.

“We need robust and immediate support of the international community, especially the United States and NATO, to provide resources and troops to enhance security before the election, during and after the election,” Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad said during a briefing at the Washington headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty last week.

Mr. Jawad noted a series of challenges facing his embattled country: warlords who maintain private armies; drug traffickers; a poorly trained army and police force; and a lack of basic roads and other infrastructure to connect the capital, Kabul, to isolated regions.

He said that “warlordism, corruption, nepotism, [the] rule of guns and abuse of power” threaten the development of democracy in Afghanistan.

However, Mr. Jawad pointed with pride to the number of Afghan registered voters as evidence that they embrace the concept of democracy. He said more than 10 million Afghans have registered to vote.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Afghan Caucus in the House is urging the United States and NATO to increase support to “ensure that there is adequate security for the upcoming elections to be free, fair and broadly inclusive.”

“The government and the people of Afghanistan are in the midst of a historical turning point,” said caucus co-Chairmen Bob Ney, Ohio Republican, and Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, in an open letter to fellow House members.

They “strongly support” Mr. Karzai’s choice for two vice-presidential running mates, Karim Khalil and Ahmad Zia Massoud.

“Both … are individuals of high standing and integrity and are committed to the process of reform and the disarmament of private militias,” they said.

They also said 40 percent of the registered voters are women, an impressive achievement from the days of the extremist Taliban rule when women were prevented from any role in public life. The Taliban regime, which sheltered Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network, was overthrown by U.S. forces in 2001.

“President Karzai and the people of Afghanistan have come a long way since the fall of the Taliban,” the caucus leaders said.

Changing the guard

The former deputy commander of the Israeli air force, who helped plan the 1981 raid on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear plant, is the new defense and armed forces attache at the Israeli Embassy.

Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin replaced Maj. Gen. Moshe Evry Sukenik, who served here for three years.

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon praised both men in a reception last week that served as a welcoming ceremony for Gen. Yadlin and a farewell gathering for Gen. Sukenik.

“I can tell you that throughout his distinguished career, Major General Sukenik was very brave and extremely courageous. He was a commander’s commander. He was a professional to the core, a dedicated Israeli, and we were blessed to have him here.”

Mr. Ayalon praised Gen. Yadlin for his “great experience, great skills and great prestige.”

“Israel is a nation of heroes,” the ambassador said. “Even in a nation of heroes, there are those who excel. Major General Yadlin is one of those men. He has planned and executed many daring and critical missions in the defense of Israel, including the mission to take out … Saddam Hussein’s nuclear facilities.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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