The U.N.'s top diplomat in Afghanistan warned Wednesday that if negative trends are not quickly reversed, the situation in that country could become "unmanageable". Kai Eide said a better transition strategy is needed for returning power to Afghans from international military and aid contributors.
In his final briefing to the Security Council before his term ends in March, U.N. envoy Kai Eide said he is worried about growing public impatience in donor and troop contributing countries; increased frustration among the Afghan public over unmet expectations; and difficulties among international and Afghan forces in putting insurgents on the defensive.
"If these negative trends are not reversed, and reversed soon, then there is a risk that they will - and the combination of them - will become unmanageable," said Eide.
He urged a dual approach, saying building strong, long-term civilian institutions must be taken as seriously as military efforts. Eide said there is a need for stronger coordination under a U.N. umbrella, with all international partners working more closely under Afghan leadership.
He said one opportunity to lay the groundwork for this would be at the conference in London later this month. The meeting on January 28 will be co-chaired by the United Nations, Britain and Afghanistan.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said that meeting would focus on three key areas, security, development and governance, and the regional framework and international architecture. A follow-up conference is tentatively planned to be held in Kabul in the spring.
As part of his new Afghan strategy, U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to that country. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said they will target the insurgency, secure population centers and train Afghan security forces.
"Our objective remains unchanged: to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat al-Qaida, and to prevent its return to either Afghanistan or Pakistan," said DiCarlo. "Our focus is on building up the capacity of Afghan institutions to withstand and diminish the threat posed by violent extremism."
Peace and reconciliation among Afghans is another area the United Nations has said is crucial to long term stability. Envoy Kai Eide repeated his offer to meet with anyone, including Taliban or other insurgents, if it would lead to peace.
In that pursuit of reconciliation, Afghanistan's Ambassador Zahir Tanin asked Security Council members to consider removing sanctions against some elements of the Taliban who renounce violence and join the peace process.
He also called on the international community to ensure that all its efforts are in support of helping Afghans take control of their own future.