Saturday, September 20, 2003

ISAF EXPANSION: First off, I want to refer you to Constitution-Afg.com, maintained by Afghanistan's Constitutional Commission. Take a look around.

Mr. De Hoop Scheffer is the Netherland's foreign minister and is very influential inside NATO. Rumors are going around he might be the next secretary-general, but he's disliked by the French and the German because he favored and supported the war in Iraq. There are already a very small number of Dutch troops in southern Iraq.

Back to the point. Since the Dutch led the ISAF-force together with the German for a couple of months and because the Dutch also have a pretty good contribution of troops in Kabul, they may be they key to expanding the peacekeeping force. Here's a questionnaire by a Karimi, a Turkish member of the Green party. (Raw translated by me, of course.)

Question 2 (by Karimi): Is it true that on during a recent NATO-meeting on September 10th, the possibility of an ISAF-expansion to other Afghan cities was discussed? And if so, what is the Dutch position?

Answer (by De Hoop Scheffer): Indeed the possibility of an ISAF-mandate expansion was discussed. Our position is that an expansion of the force will contribute to the improvement of the security situation in Afghanistan, in the framework of bi- and multi-lateral action. The main condition for an expansion is the adjustment of the stabilizing-force. The United Nations security-council will decide on an expansion before December 20th, the day the mandate for the ISAF ends. It is up to NATO to decide whether it's willing to take that role. Presumably, the details of a possible expansion will be made by NATO.

[Rest of it is formality, declaring his support for the Loya Jirga; the Bonn process; his support in principle to disarm warlords; reformation of the Ministry of Defense; and 4 million euro in further contribution]

Make of it what you will. We'll hear more in December, hopefully positively.

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