Towards a Stable Afghanistan?
Habig, Cornelia, Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly
There is no question that the military commitment in Afghanistan must come to an end at some point. Yet how to achieve the country's permanent stabilization is an issue not yet resolved. The debate centered on a regional approach.
While Saturday's agenda focused on the changes in the Arab world, Afghanistan was the key issue of the speeches and debates on the last day of the conference. Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stressed the importance of a change of strategy while Afghan President Hamid Karzai put forward a surprising argument, saying that from his point of view, 'parallel structures' had emerged in his country, which slowed down a more rapid progress in nation building. With this term, Mr. Karzai did not refer to the narcotics industry or a similar issue, for instance, but to the NATO member states' Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), the presence of private security companies, and funding channels that bypassed the Afghan authorities (and directly sponsored specific projects instead). The transition to Afghan responsibility had to be accelerated, the Afghan President suggested. He did not, however, go into detail on the issue of the Afghan institutions' present ability to fulfill these roles.
Afghans will have to find their own way
The second panel discussion on Afghanistan started late in the morning. Among others, the debate featured NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Mich le Flournoy and Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta. Mr. Karzai's theses played an important role but were put into perspective. According to Mr. Spanta, the President intended to encourage the transfer of responsibility from the PRTs and operational forces to the Afghan government forces. Afghans were a proud people and wanted to find their own way.
Regional approach for authority transfer to Afghan forces
The participants agreed that a permanent military mission did not make sense in the long run. It was the Afghans' job to ensure the country's sustainable stabilization whereas NATO and its partners were limited to rendering support. The districts had to examine individually which strategy to choose in order to effect a transfer of responsibilities to the Afghan government and its security personnel. People had to become confident with the local sytem represented by their government, Ms. Flournoy explained. NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral Stavridis reported from his visit to the trouble spot provinces of Kandahar and Helmand in Southern Afghanistan one week ago, where he encountered significant progress. …