Sunday, January 13, 2008

Diplomats 'constrained' by military in Afghanistan

Ottawa's Embassy newsweekly this week has a story on efforts to replace Michel de Salaberry, who returned to Canada in November following a six-month stint as Canada's civilian representative in southern Afghanistan. The fact that his position appears to have sat vacant for two months is testimony to the ambivalent attitude of the Conservative government toward DFAIT and diplomacy. But the Embassy article goes further, quoting the assertions of an NGO official that Canadian diplomats in Afghanistan are following the dictates of the military:

Mr. de Salaberry met civil society officials in Ottawa on Dec. 17 where he presented a mixed review of the situation in Afghanistan.

One NGO representative at the meeting who asked not to be identified said Mr. de Salaberry alternated between positive assessments and the feeling that significant challenges remain. One such problem was that the governor in Kandahar is deeply involved in illegal drug trafficking.

"I'm also convinced that he was clearly constrained," the representative said. "The military called the shots." ... (link)

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