Sunday, November 25, 2007

Vive la Suisse! Vive le Japon!

Both Switzerland and Japan have lately removed themselves from the US/NATO project in Afghanistan.

Japan pulls out
Japan had been supplying free fuel - to the tune of 129 million gallons - to war ships from the US, Britain and Pakistan. According to Xinhua:

The mission was abruptly halted on Nov. 1, after opposition parties raised concerns it was too broad and possibly violated Japan's pacifist constitution.
Two Japanese naval ships have returned home - one a refueller, the other a destroyer.

Switzerland pulls out
Switzerland, meanwhile, had been supplying a handful of "peacekeepers" in Afghanistan. But their mandate has been stretched to non-peacekeeper duties, it seems:
Two Swiss army officers, currently working with a German team in the northeastern Kunduz province, will return home by March next year, Swiss Defense Minister Samuel Schmid told a press conference in Bern, the Swissinfo website reported.

Schmid said he took the decision for security reasons. The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan has become a peace enforcement operation rather than a peacekeeping duty, he said.

According to Schmid, a continued Swiss military presence in Afghanistan - although "rather symbolic" - is impossible because it goes against the spirit of the constitution and is not in line with the law.
An ISAF troop summary from last year lists the Swiss contribution as five.

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