Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah is in Washington this week to ask US officials to fulfill promises to help create economic and political stability for Afghanistan. In a forum yesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a speech at George Washington University, Abdullah emphasized that “the campaign against terror is far from over” and it “can’t happen without (US) support, it can’t happen without continued engagement in Afghanistan,” according to the Associated Press.
Abdullah noted that his country was in dire need of help with disarming sparring warlords and feeding the millions of returning refugees, among other things. Nations pledged $4.5 billion in aid to Afghanistan in January with $1.8 billion for this year alone–- one-third of which has yet to be delivered. In addition, Abdullah noted that a significant portion of these pledges was made in the form of credit rather than grants. The United States government is still debating long-term financial commitments to Afghanistan. While the House approved $1.15 billion over four years, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a bill that would increase funding to $2 billion for humanitarian aid and $1 billion to expand international peacekeeping troops. The full Senate has yet to vote on this bill.
Abdullah also made a trip to Orlando, Florida, where he said that the 10,000 US and international troops stationed in Afghanistan – as well as the 5,000 international peacekeeping troops stationed only in Kabul – are vital to promote security. The US has not committed support to the expansion of this international peacekeeping force, despite requests from Afghan women, the Afghan government, the United Nations, the Feminist Majority and other women’s and humanitarian organizations. Continued violence including the recent bombing of eight girls’ schools; threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Sima Samar; the assassination of two government ministers; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the continued use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school show the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul.