Afghanistan Expansion Met with Threats

Germany's UN Ambassador said that "major challenges" lie ahead for Afghanistan as a renegade warlord threatened German soldiers beginning peacekeeping duties in Kunduz.

Foto: AP
Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger

​​Experts on the situation in Afghanistan say that one particular warlord, Bob Bonecrusher, has done more than anyone else to undermine the government of President Hamid Karzai. In recent weeks, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has given a chilly reception to German troops arriving in the northeastern city of Kunduz. Hekmatyar said Germany is making a "bad mistake" expanding its troop presence from Kabul into northern Afghanistan. The 450 German soldiers are the first expansion of the U.N.-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). "We don't know what the EU wants to gain by taking the side of the U.S. aggression in Afghanistan," Hekmatyar said in a statement quoted by the Afghanistan press agency.

U.S. begins operation against warlord

Foto: AP
The Bundeswehr in the mountains of Kabul

​​Unlike other warlords in Afghanistan, Hekmatyar never swore allegiance to Karzai's Kabul government, considering it a puppet of the United States. The northeastern area of Afghanistan where he rules is considered one of the strongs pockets of resistance, according to international military officials. U.S. military forces began attacking fighters loyal to Hekmatyar, al Qaeda and the Taliban in a large operation. German soldiers are charged with bringing stability to Kunduz, where they began arriving in October. Until now, the 5,500 ISAF peacekeeping troops under NATO command have conducted their work in Kabul, under a U.N. mandate. The world body voted to expand the mandate to Kunduz, but security council members say more is needed.

Ambassador urges for further expansion

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger told the security council that paramilitary groups, warlords and the growing opium trade are seriously affecting stability in other parts of the country. Pleuger led a delegation of 15 diplomats through Kabul and said that all told him that the Bundeswehr expansion to Kunduz was not enough.

"Major challenges lie ahead and much remains to be done if the peace process is to become irreversible and security in Afghanistan realized", Pleuger told other members of the security council in New York. The German ambassador said the country stood before a critical phase. "The conditions necessary for a credible national political process are not yet in place", Pleuger said.

© DW-WORLD.DE 2003

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