Tuesday, April 27, 2004

WHEN IT HITS HOME: Nathan Bruckenthal, 24 years old, attended the same high school I did. He died after a boat blew up at Khawr al Amaya terminal in Iraq. Bruckenthal is the first member of the U.S. Coast Guard to be killed since Vietnam.

POINT-BLANK: Afghanistan has executed its first war criminal, Abdullah Shah. Exciting no? He was executed on April 20th when a bullet was put in his head, after Karzai signed off on his death warrant. Shah did not have legal representation during the appeal. Am I the only one who finds this thing, well, troubling?

Abdul Mahmood Daqiq, the director of the Attorney General's office, said Shah was executed in Pul-e-Charkhi jail with a bullet to the back of the head. He said the death sentence was carried out in front of witnesses including representatives of the Afghan police and the Attorney General's office.
Point-blank, heh? Karzai’s government has promulgated laws and appointed judges but that does not mean there are sufficient legal safeguards to assure justice. Does Afghanistan’s legal system meet the international standards of legal justice? Can the safeguards and restrictions according to international standards for imposing capital punishment be observed in Afghanistan?

Monday, April 26, 2004

EARTH TO NATO: Nicholas Burns, the United States' ambassador to NATO, and Gen. James Jones are joining the fray! Speaking to the other 26 NATO ambassadors sitting at the same table in Kabul, Burns told them that "[NATO] needs to go faster and accelerate its build-up of troops in Afghanistan." Damn right. NATO can and should commit more troops and resources. This especially holds true to countries like Spain and Turkey. Spain currently has only 125 peacekeepers in Kabul; it had about 2,000 soldiers in Iraq, until very recentely. See what I'm getting at here....?

Also note the shift from peacekeeping and goodwill to anti-terror tactics in Kabul. It seems like ISAF has its hands busy with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's minions. Speaking of minions, the BBC is reporting that the Pentagon has decided to build an airbase in Paktika province to battle al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

FROM THE FRONTLINE: The latest news from Afghanistan in bullet-form...

  • The new Spanish government may send its troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, according to retiring Spanish Ambassador Javier Ruperez. "Nothing has been decided upon yet," says Ruperez, but "a number of possibilities were mentioned. And certainly one of them was the one of Afghanistan." [Deseret News]

  • A German-Dutch RPT-team is being sent to Faizabad, in the north. It's not known how many soldiers will be stationed in Faizabad, but NATO "is committed to taking command of five new PRTs by June, including the new German-Dutch initiative." [Financial Times]
  • GHOST WARS: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll is an astonishing and impeccably reported book. Kevin Drum called it "too detailed" but I felt the exact opposite. For example, it doesn't not tell us whether Ahmed Shah Massoud's assassination was linked to the 9/11 plot. (Perhaps, we'll know with the conspirators' trial currently ongoing in Belgium.)

    Ghost Wars does make one thing clear. Neither Carter, Reagan, Bush I or Clinton had a reasoned and sound policy for Afghanistan. When an American President has had not a coherent policy for Afghanistan, Afghanistan has been a mess. Does George W. Bush have a policy that makes sense? If he does, we'd like to hear it.

    Saturday, April 24, 2004

    REFUSING TO FIGHT YOUR COUNTRYMEN: It's been a problem in Iraq. American-trained Iraqi soldiers refused to fight their fellow countrymen and in some cases even joined the opposing side. This is one problem that American soldiers in Afghanistan have not experienced. It would be funny, if it wasn't so sad. Most Afghans would have no problem fighting their countrymen, especially if they're not the same ethnicity. Afghans, however, don't take pleasure in it, which they do when fighting foreigners.

    Friday, April 16, 2004

    THE SATURDAY PROFILE! The New York Times' Amy Waldman exposes the man behind the curtain--American ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad--in a sympathetic profile, which particularly highlights Khalilzad's close friendship with Karzai. From what I know, they've known each other for a long time. They both attended (and apparently, acquainted at) the American University in Beirut. It was only after Taliban-agents murdered Abdul Ahad Karzai, Hamid Karzai's father, that Khalilzad stopped writing editorials in which he arguing that America should give the Taliban a chance. Soon after that, he also stepped down from Unocal's advisory board.

    UPDATE: Here's a Khalilzad profile from Washington Post, dated November 21st, 2001. The first graf:

    Four years ago at a luxury Houston hotel, oil company adviser Zalmay Khalilzad was chatting pleasantly over dinner with leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban regime about their shared enthusiasm for a proposed multibillion-dollar pipeline deal.
    Ah, yes. Unocal vice-president Marty Miller had arranged for Khalilzad to meet Taliban representatives at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston. They discussed the pipeline, but soon thereafter, he opened a debate with Taliban information minister, Amir Khan Mutaqqi, over what the Qu'ran said on the treatment of women.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    IT TAKES A LOBBYIST OR TWO: This item is from Monday's Roll Call...

    "It's been more than a year since Anna Mohamadi heard that the airplane carrying her father, a top official in Afghanistan's government, crashed into the Indian Ocean off the coast of ... Mohamadi refuses to give up hope of finding out exactly why the small, twin-engine jet carrying her father plunged into the ocean on Feb. 24, 2003." Roll Call adds, "When Pakistan's formal probe failed to answer those questions, Mohamadi took the unusual step of hiring two Washington lobbying firms -- Hogan & Hartson and Stonebridge International - to organize an investigation into the crash that killed her father and seven others. ... Mohamadi, who believes that foul play may have been involved in the crash, said she hired the lobbyists because she wants help persuading the American embassy in Karachi to investigate the crash."
    Google searches tell me that she graduated from George Mason University. She wrote an article for the Washington Post titled "The Country of Her Father." In it she writes, "I feel betrayed by the reaction of the Afghan government, especially the president, because they have done nothing in the way of leading a search or joining the investigation, and their apathy evokes anger, suspicion and sorrow within me. My hopes for Afghanistan are slowly dying." An understandable reaction from a grieving daughter, even though there is nothing that the Afghan government could do.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    DUTCH DEMOGRAPHICS: Via Crooked Timber, I found an excellent analysis by Randy McDonald of the Muslim population in France. Consider the following, for example.

    If [the French Muslim] population grew for the next 50 years at a rate of 2% per annum (a high rate, and one that doesn’t seem to be supported by signs of an ongoing demographic transition), while the remainder of the population shrunk at a rate of 0.5% per annum (also a high rate of decrease, and one that doesn’t seem likely to be achieved for a while given generally high French fertility rates), at the end of this 50 year period the total French population would have shrunk by 9%, and France’s Muslim population would amount to roughly one-fifth of the total. You’d have to wait for a century to approach a position of parity between the two populations, assuming the same unrealistic growth rates. This is definitely not any sort of imminent threat...
    Unfortunately, Randy only offers hypothetical population growth percentages and doesn't give us the actual growth percentage.

    The Netherlands offers a vindication too. The Central Bureau of Statistics, the Dutch version of the American Census bureau, published a report called "Immigrants in the Netherlands, 2003" [It's a .pdf-file and it's in Dutch--ed.]. It says the following:

  • In the year 2002, the non-immigrant* population grew by 0,10% while the non-Western immigrant population* grew by 4,0%.

  • "Not-western immigrants see to for a large part of the growth of the Dutch population. Between 1995 and 2003, they grew by 490 thousand, while during the same period the total population grew by 770 thousand. ... CBS expects the non-Western immigration to total 3,5 million in 2050. In 2003, they total about 1,6 million. ... Starting in 2007, the non-immigrant population will decrease ... [They] will total 11,9 million in 2050, down from 13,2 million in 2003."

  • Remember also, that these are predictions and statistics of non-Western immigrants; not Muslims (immigrants.) Only a mere 56% of non-Western immigrants are estimated to be of Islamic faith.

    * Non-immigrant --> Native Dutch citizens
    ** Non-Western immigrant population --> Immigrants from outside the European continent

    EXCLUSIVE: Kerry to be on Meet the Press on Sunday. Just so you know.

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    HOW TO FIX THE SECURITY PROBLEM: I nag and whine a lot. But that doesn't mean I don't have any suggestions on how to fix the things that are, well, broken. So here goes.

    Whatever threat they pose, I don't think the Taliban--Islamic militants who operate in the south and cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan--are a problem. Coalition troops are doing a pretty good job at disrupting and destroying the Taliban.

    There is, however, another problem that plagues Afghanistan and that is warlordism. Warlords all over the country continue to run their own mini-fiefdoms outside of Kabul. The United States needs to pursue a long term-policy of wiping out taking out warlords and establishing local representatives who are loyal and aligned to the government in Kabul. Scum like Dostum, Sayyaf and Ismail Khan have been around too long to be swiftly eradicated, but that doesn't mean it is not possible. It most certainly is. In the short-term, we can force them to disarm and pay taxes to Kabul.

    A couple of things need to take place before that can eradication can become reality. The Germans need to train the Afghan police forces better. The Americans need to train more Afghan soldiers. The Afghan National Army's 8000-or-so soldiers are already preemptively searching for Taliban fighters in the southeastern parts of Afghanistan; they are also being dispatched to troubled cities and places like Herat, Mazer-e-Sharif and the province of Faryad. The militia-disarmament was started a few months back in Kunduz and unfortunately, it hasn't moved far beyond that city.

    The Americans may be leading the effort, but that does not mean Europe can watch from the sidelines. NATO has to add more troops to the International Security Assistance Force. American soldiers should be eliminating remnants of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, while NATO has to be responsible for overall security in Afghanistan.

    Sunday, April 11, 2004

    HERSH'S NON-REVELATIONS: Seymour Hersh is an excellent investigative journalist and a brilliant writer. But I have to admit, his piece on Afghanistan in this week's New Yorker is a bore. It's relatively short and it reveals little. Clark's criticism of how Bush handled Afghanistan? Read it in his book. Karzai can't handle security outside of Kabul? Yawn. Opium cultivation? The focus on Iraq and not Afghanistan? The former Taliban foreign minister wants to talk with Karzai? We already know all of this; it's been covered already! Fortunately, Hersh does reveal some, shall we say, internal problems.

    Meanwhile, the United States continued to pay off and work closely with local warlords, many of whom were involved in heroin and opium trafficking. Their loyalty was not for sale but for rent. ... Fahim, now the defense minister, is deeply involved in a number of illicit enterprises. ... One of Karzai’s many antagonists is his own defense minister, Mohammed Fahim. Last year, the Bush Administration was privately given a memorandum by an Afghan official and American ally, warning that Fahim was working to undermine Karzai and would use his control over money from illegal businesses and customs revenue to do so. Fahim was also said to have recruited at least eighty thousand men into new militias.
    "Illicit enterprises"? So he's a drug dealer in the flourishing Afghan opium trade. What other so-called "illicit businesses" are there in Afghanistan? And I'm not sure whether to believe Hersh's "private memorandum." He tells us that Fahim seeking to "undermine Karzai"? What does that mean? Does he want to overthrow Karzai in a coup? Is he saboting his poll numbers? We're not told!

    THE FAILURE OF THE DRONES: Unmanned Spy Planes Crash in Afghanistan; Associated Press; April 11, 2004.

    GARDEZ, Afghanistan -- Two unmanned drones crashed a block away from a ceremony where American and Afghan officials were inaugurating a courthouse Sunday -- and the event went ahead as planned.

    One of the drones, which was circling above the closely guarded ceremony, plunged behind the nearby governor's residence during U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad's speech. Addressing dignitaries at the gleaming white-and-yellow courthouse, he seemed not to notice.

    The second drone came down soon after a few hundred yards away, next to another government building in this city 60 miles south of the capital, Kabul.
    Pair of drones forced to make crash landings; Canadian Press; March 22, 2004.
    KABUL -- Two coalition spy planes crash-landed in Afghanistan on the weekend, officials with the international security force said yesterday. One was Canadian, and the other, of German origin, came down in the grounds surrounding President Hamid Karzai's residence.

    Nobody was hurt in either incident, but they were just the latest episodes involving the drones, which have run into repeated problems in Afghanistan.
    Canada loses 4th drone in Afghanistan; Canadian Press; March 20, 2004.
    KABUL (CP) - A remote-controlled Canadian aircraft came in for a hard emergency landing in a farmer's field today, making it the fourth plane in four months to be knocked out of Canada's troubled spy plane fleet.

    The Canadian Forces Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, made the emergency landing near Kabul about 15 minutes after taking off from Camp Julien. No one on the ground was hurt.

    "The Sperwer had difficulty gaining its normal operating altitude," said Lt.-Col. Dana Clarke, the UAV project director.

    "Because the aircraft was headed toward a populated area, a decision was made to force it to land in a field," Clarke said in a statement.

    Since the first UAVs arrived in Afghanistan in November, crashes or hard landings have put four of the planes out of action, while two others developed cracks in their wings.
    One day these things are gonna hurt somebody.

    Saturday, April 10, 2004

    CHALLENGING KARZAI--THE NEW SPRING OFFENSIVE: Three days ago, forces loyal of the Uzbeki warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum took over the city of Maymaneh, the capital of the province Faryab, in addition to several surrounding districts. A batallion of the small and overstretched Afghan National Army was flown in and Dostum's forces have withdrawn from the city leaving it in the hands of the ANA-soldiers.

    You can read a backgrounder, written by me, on Dostum here. I also recommend this Washington Post article on alleged Iranian support of Dostum from a while back.

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    BIG FIGHT TO COME... in the coming days, in Paktika province, which borders Pakistan.

    FUMING PAKISTAN WATCH... What did I tell you? Here's a roundup of reactions to Khalilzad's comments regarding Pakistan. The Voice of America:

    Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani on Tuesday called the comments "unwarranted and uncalled for." He says the US diplomat is not aware of the realities on the ground because Pakistani forces have been effectively moving against terrorists linked to the Taleban and al- Qaida terror network.

    “Ambassador Khalilzad is perhaps not aware of the position of his own government,” Mr. Jilani said. “The U.S. administration at the highest level has greatly appreciated Pakistan's effort in eliminating and rooting out the terrorist infrastructure and the al-Qaida elements from Pakistan. The other thing is that Pakistan is quite capable of taking firm action against all undesirable elements and does not require any outside assistance,” he added.
    There's no doubt that Khalilzad is very hostile in regards to Pakistan. But it's funny reading the infuriated Pakistani response to it. So was today's State Department briefing:
    QUESTION: But, I mean, the Ambassador said that the U.S. was prepared to go into Pakistan and physically go after these guys.

    MR. ERELI: That's a -- frankly, I think that's an eventuality that unfortunately, we don't have to deal with at this point.

    QUESTION: Unfortunately?

    MR. ERELI: That fortunately, we don't have to deal with at this point.

    REQUIRED READING: First of, there is another interesting article by Seymour Hersh which discusses Afghanistan. Finally, there's a magnificient article in the current issue of Current History (PDF / HTML) by Barnett Rubin.

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004

    DEAR PAMELA: In another dastardly yet understandable move by the editors of the Washington Post, the much-adored Pamela Constable has moved from Afghanistan and is now embedded with the Marines in Fallujah.

    GOT ANOTHER ONE: An interesting bit from an article about the capture of Amanullah, a long-time commander of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

    The U.S. spokesman says Commander Amanullah was heading the Hezb-I-Islami militant faction in the area. He says the man is suspected of helping organize two suicide bomb attacks that killed one Canadian and one British soldier last January in Kabul.
    Definitely a big fish. Unlike other Gulbuddin commanders, this one wasn't captured in Kabul but in the province of Wardak, which has been his place for over twenty years now.

    ABU DAJANA AL-AFGHANI? Who is Abu Dujana al-Afghani, the person who is signing letters demanding the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq and Afghanistan? I don't know. But the nom de guerre is quite interesting. Abu Dujana was a warrior who fought alongside Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the name was not that uncommon among mujahedin fighters in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. Al-Afghani translates to the Afghan (in Arabic, of course), perhaps indicating that the person is veteran mujahedin of the Afghan war. Anyhow, there is some information about the guy under a different spelling of the name.

    CALM DOWN ZALMAY! YOU'RE IN DC NOW! I went to see the American Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on K Street. Khalilzad has always been hostile to Pakistan, because he knows that the Pakistani city of Quetta has become the Taliban's provincial capital. Here's what he said according to the Associated Press:

    "We cannot allow this problem to fester indefinitely ... We have told the Pakistani leadership that either they must solve this problem or we will have to do it for ourselves.''
    This no doubt will irk the Pakistanis. This isn't the first time either. About two weeks ago, Khalilzad criticized the Pakistanis, and that same day, the spokesperson for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry shot back: "He must not allow his personal predilection to affect Pakistan-U.S. relations. We would like him to be a friend of Pakistan's. We would like him to promote closer Pakistan-U.S. relations by not making such statements, and we are in touch with the State Department." Priceless...

    Ps. For those interested, Khalizad will be at the National Press Club tomorrow at 1 PM.

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    EYE-RAQ, EYE-RAN, GUTTER: You know what's really annoying about some Americans? Their pronounciation of the country Qatar! For some very odd reason, some highly educated Americans have decided to call it "gutter" despite the country's pro-American attitude. I know it's often accidental, but it's like spelling America with three Ks. Simply put, it's offensive!

    Sunday, April 04, 2004

    THE HOWLING GULBUDDIN: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar may be cruel and vicious, but that doesn't mean he's stupid. (Only the bright minds attend the Faculty of Engineering at Kabul University.) Latest rumor has it that Gulbuddin wants to stop fighting altogether--until recently he only called upon his followers only to kill foreigners on--and participate in the Afghanistan's presidential elections in September. [Does that mean Bush's plan to spread democracy has worked?--ed. You be the judge of that depending on your political leanings.] Gulbuddin already held talks with Jamiat-e-Islami's Burhanuddin Rabbani in 2003. Gulbuddin's delegation is set to meet with Rabbani, Ustad Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and Qasim Fahim.

    As I wrote a couple of months ago, "He has his own agenda and works for himself." So what if Gulbuddin really will break off his relationship with the al-Qaeda and Taliban types? Will he continue to enjoy the support of Hizb-e-Islami's followers? Unlikely, and since Gulbuddin's Pastun family comes from none of the major tribes, it's hard to imagine him enjoying any strong support.

    THE MILITIA THING: It's likely I will be wrong in retrospect, but isn't this the start of a civil war in Iraq? Many speculated a sectarian war; Shia vs. Sunni. This may end up being nationalistic. But than again, we don't know how widespread this uprising--if we can call it that--really is. There are undoubtedly many obstacles. The biggest one may not be Grand Ayatollah Sistani or al-Zarqawi or Fallujah, but gun-toting militias. They provide the means for civil war, whether sectarian or ethnic. Disarm the militias before we start comparing Ismail Khan's army to that of Muqtada al-Sadr.

    Saturday, April 03, 2004

    FRIENDSHIP BRIDGE CLOSED: Uzbekistan has closed the so-called "Friendship Bridge" linking Afghanistan with Uzbekistan, after bombings in Tashkent nd Bukhara last week. That's bad news since the Friendship Bridge is an opening used for humanitarian operations into Afghanistan and therefore a vital lifeline into Afghanistan.

    THANKS TO THE DUTCH: Six new Apache choppers, courtesy of the Netherlands.

    THE BERLIN DECLARATION: What follows is the so-called Berlin Declaration adopted by the participants of this week's conference in Berlin.

    We, the participants in the 2004 Berlin Conference on Afghanistan,

    Committed to the vision of a secure, stable, free, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan as laid out in the Afghan Constitution and as reaffirmed in the speech of President Hamid Karzai held at this Conference, in particular welcoming the announcement to hold direct presidential and parliamentary elections in September 2004.

    Noting with satisfaction the substantial progress achieved under the Bonn Agreement of December 2001 in fostering peace, stability, national unity, democratization, and economic development in Afghanistan, culminating in the adoption of a new Afghan Constitution in January 2004, which lays the groundwork for an elected Government and Parliament, and an independent Judiciary, which guarantees the constitutional rights of all its citizens – men and women – and adheres to the principle of human rights and the establishment of a self-sustaining, market-orientated economy.

    Welcoming the achievements in the state and institution building process, in particular the peaceful holding of two Loya Jirgas which elected a President and adopted a Constitution, the progress in creating and strengthening the national security institutions, the adoption of key legislation, the re-establishment of a Central Bank and the successful launch of a new currency, the adoption of a National Development Framework and a National Budget, as well as the establishment of Commissions on Human Rights, Elections, Judiciary and Civil Service Reform,

    Noting with satisfaction the progress made by Afghans and the international community in the fight against remnants of international terrorism, and the common resolve to defeat terrorists who undermine security and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan,

    Welcoming the contributions and pledges towards Afghanistan’s reconstruction and reform programs made by countries at the Tokyo Conference of January 2002, that have helped avert a humanitarian crisis and resettle more than three million refugees and internally displaced people so far, and laid the foundation for economic development and growth in the future,

    Determined to complete the Bonn Process by creating the conditions under which the people of Afghanistan can freely determine their own political future by establishing a fully representative government through free and fair elections in a secure and peaceful environment,

    Determined to continue, in the spirit of the Bonn Agreement, as a common endeavor of the Afghan people and the international community, the tasks of rebuilding and reforming the political, social and economic structures of Afghanistan, with the aim of creating lasting peace, stability and economic development, and with a view to offering all Afghans in an equitable manner tangible prospects for a brighter future,

    Agree

    1. that while the responsibility for providing security and enforcing law and order throughout the country resides with the Afghans themselves, the engagement of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), mandated by the UN-Security Council and now under the command of NATO, and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) - at the request and welcomed by the Afghan Government - will be continued until such time as the new Afghan security and armed forces are sufficiently constituted and operational,

    2. that the international community is determined to assist further in the stabilization of the security situation throughout the country, in particular with the deployment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), which also contribute to reconstruction and development efforts,

    3. that it is necessary to implement vigorously the first phase of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program to be completed by the end of June 2004 as decided by the President of Afghanistan, thereafter to intensify the program ahead of the 2004 elections, and to continue the formation of the Afghan National Army and the National Police,

    4. that further efforts will be necessary for the full establishment of the rule of law and a functioning judicial system as enshrined in the Constitution,

    5. that opium poppy cultivation, drug production and trafficking pose a serious threat to the rule of law and development in Afghanistan as well as to international security, and that therefore Afghanistan and the international community shall do everything - including the development of economic alternatives - to reduce and eventually eliminate this threat,

    6. that the investment program presented in the report “Securing Afghanistan’s Future” outlines the substantial further assistance required to address Afghanistan’s long term reconstruction needs, and that the implementation of this program depends as much on the continued commitment of donors as on the Afghan Government’s success in achieving the ambitious targets it has set for itself.

    7. that better predictability makes it desirable for the assistance to Afghanistan to be, if possible, in multi-year commitments and, with increasing absorption capacity for a growing share of this assistance to be channeled through the Afghan budget as direct budget support or as contributions to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and to the Law and Order Trust Fund (LOTFA), and that the Government of Afghanistan will continue to make every effort to enhance domestic revenue mobilization,

    8. Strongly to endorse the Workplan put forward by the Government of Afghanistan and annexed herewith, to stress the importance of the reform steps and actions outlined therein, and to note Afghanistan’s determination to pursue this agenda,

    9. that the international community’s assistance to Afghanistan will have a particular focus on
    supporting the implementation of this Workplan,

    10. That all efforts to build a new Afghanistan shall also reflect the aspirations of the Civil Society that is taking root in the country and promote the participation of women according to their rights under the Constitution,

    Welcome

    1. the multiyear commitments made at the Conference for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan totalling US$ 8.2 bn for the fiscal years 1383 – 1385 (March 2004 – March 2007), which includes a pledge of US$ 4.4 bn for 1383 (March 2004 – March 2005),

    2. the commitment by NATO to expand ISAF's mission by establishing five additional Provincial Reconstruction Teams by summer 2004 and further PRTs thereafter, as well as the readiness of ISAF and OEF to assist in securing the conduct of elections,

    3. the further steps made by Afghanistan and its neighbors to foster regional cooperation under the auspices of the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighbourly Relations from December 22, 2002, in particular, the Declaration on Counter-Narcotics annexed herewith as well as the planned Conference on Regional Police Cooperation to be held in Doha on May 18 and 19,

    Reaffirm on this basis that

    Afghanistan and the international community shall continue to sustain a lasting partnership for the future, which will allow Afghanistan to complete the transition process begun with the Bonn Agreement, to reflect the will of its people, rebuild Afghanistan and create a secure, peaceful and stable country fully restored to its rightful place in the international community of free nations.
    The big news here is the establishment of five new provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) outside Kabul. The IHT reports that there will be a German PRT in Faizabad and a British-Norwegian-Finish PRT in Maimana, which lies between Herat and Mazer-e-Sharif.

    BERLIN 04 DONOR PLEDGES: United States: $2.2 bil ... Japan: $400 mil ... Germany: $390 mil ... Australia: $19 mil ... China: $49 mil ... Great Britain: $569 mil ... The Netherlands: $120 mil ... European Commision: $774 mil ... Italy: $170 mil

    Friday, April 02, 2004

    KARZAI'S FASHION SENSE: Apparently, a German fashion designer by the name of Wolfgang Joop praised Karzai's fashion sense. (Via Nathan Hamm.)

    President Karzai is a shining example of how a man can maintain the role of a gentleman even while wearing the dress of his ancestors" Joop wrote in an article for Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel newspaper on Thursday.

    "Karzai has something that few men and even fewer political leaders have: aura," Joop wrote, saying Karzai's fashionable dress -- a blue and green Afghan "chapan" cloak and lambskin hat -- made him stand out against other leaders in dull dark suits.
    His "dress" is actually a multi-ethnic mix of clothes. The chapan is worn by Tajiks in the north; the hat is strictly worn in Kabul and the rest of his attire are from the Pashtun south. Even his clothes are a sign of unity!

    RE: THE MEANING OF USTAD... Dan Darling has some interesting anecdotes on the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which is a reply to an e-mail I sent him. Anyhow, as I noted in that e-mail, Wahabi warlord Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf has changed his name to Ustad Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. (His real name is simply Abdul Rasur Sayyaf.) The meaning of the word Ustad is not a title denoting a Muslim teacher, but it indicates that the person is a professor. From what is I have heard, he did teach for a very short time at a small Islamic university called the Shariat in Kabul. It ended when he, together with Burhanuddin Rabbani, Ahmed Shah Massoud and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, tried to overthrow President Daoud Khan from the Panjshir Valley in 1973 (if I remember correctly); the coup failed miserably and the future-mujahedin leaders fled to Pakistan.

    HOPELESS: International donors pledged around 8.2 billion for the next three years. For those confused, that's 4.5 billion for this year (2004) with 4.4 billion in the years of 2005 and 2006. The big donors, as expected, were the United States, Germany and Japan. Many thanks to the governments of these countries.

    If I'm correct, about $2.3 billion was pledged by the United States (on top of the $1.2 billion it's spending this year), $400 million by Japan, $390 by Germany and $1 billion by the Asian Development Bank. Congress can appropriate even more money in the coming fiscal years (2006 and 2007).

    But... what about the European Union? The Saudis? The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports on a truly pathetic scene inside Berlin's Intercontinentel Hotel.

    Persian Gulf states did not offer funds, which U.S. officials said was a disappointment. ... U.N. officials struggled to reach a goal of winning $80 million in commitments here to help procure equipment in time for presidential and parliamentary elections set for September. The United States offered about $20 million, and later increased its contribution by $5 million if more donations were made. The United Nations ultimately decided to scale back its request to $65 million, and that target was reached, a senior State Department official said. ... A January 2002 reconstruction conference in Tokyo raised about $4.5 billion, but according to Afghan figures little of that money has reached the country. About $2 billion has been placed in bank accounts for disbursement, with about $1.8 billion committed to projects that have been started, though not much of that has been spent yet in the country.
    Some would call this "slow but monumental progress. I call this an example of how weak, dismal and useless most European countries and countries like Saudia Arabia (which, by the way, has a fondness for funding destruction instead of reconstruction) are when it comes to aiding a war-plagued people. The United States is doing the heavy lifting--again. We ought to get used to this; we should also be thankful. Without the United States, Germany and Japan, Afghanistan wouldn't be teetering on the brink of chaos; it would be in a treacherous state of chaos.

    UPDATE: The European Commission has plegded 774 million dollar, while Great Britain pledged 569 million. I'm still not satisfied. The Europeans have a bigger population and a bigger GDP than the United States. The Europeans should be pledging more than the United States!