U.S., France Reject Expansion of International Troops in Afghanistan
In spite of pleas from both the United Nations and the Afghan Administration for an expansion of the 4,800-member International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the United States and France made their opposition official by telling the UN Security Council that the ISAF would not be expanded. U.S. representative James Cunningham and French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte both agreed that though the security situation in Afghanistan is a major concern, it could be better addressed by an Afghan national army and police force. By most estimates, the training of such an all-Afghan force would take at least 18 months to complete and would present an innumerable amount of challenges possibly prolonging the process.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stated that expanding the ISAF top major cities in Afghanistan “would significantly minimize the likelihood of large-scale hostilities erupting again between existing armed factions” which are still prevalent in the country. There have been reports that several people have been arrested or harassed by private militias in various parts of the country for speaking in favor of the Loya Jirga. Not only are there security concerns surrounding the convening of the Loya Jirga, but as Hossain, a UN investigation, stated in response to the U.S. and France’s opposition, “security lapses could jeopardize the whole transition process.”
The Feminist Majority has been urging the U.S. government to support an expansion of international security troops in Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan in order to provide women and children greater safety. Even though schools have recently reopened and women are now allowed to work, they still fear the warlords of the past and see the international force as providing them a greater degree of protection. Without such protection, many women are still fearful of leaving their homes for school or work. The need for security in Afghanistan is a crucial component of the reconstruction process and must be addressed immediately if the international community is sincere in assisting Afghanistan in its transition to a democratic government with an active and productive population.