Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Foreign Minister Bernier in Afghanistan; Canada won't interfere?

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier contradicted all publicly available assessments of security in southern Afghanistan Sunday with a bold claim that insurgent attacks have decreased in Kandahar, leaving the province more secure for humanitarian work. ...

"The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007," said a paper by the UN Department of Safety and Security in August. That report showed violent incidents increased almost 25 per cent this year, although the authors noted that the figure may be conservative.

Kandahar was among only three provinces listed in the United Nations report as places where the security situation has fallen into its worst category — "Extreme Risk/Hostile Environment" — across most of the province. This rating causes less accessibility to UN programs, the report notes.

These statistics fit with those collected by other analysts. The respected security firm Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan found that Kandahar suffered more anti-government attacks than any other province, in a tally of incidents from the beginning of the year to Sept. 30. ...
Interference and hypocrisy
Following the executions of 15 Afghan prisoners in Kabul earlier this week, Canadian officials responded with muted concerns, citing a reluctance to "interfere" in an internal Afghan matter. (The Dutch, meanwhile, called the executions "extremely unwelcome".)

Yet Canada has already interfered in internal matters there, as we blogged about here last month. To repeat:
The police chief in Zhari district is on his way out, in part because of Canadian complaints about his performance.

"He was probably more part of the problem than the solution," [Colonel] Juneau said. (link)

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