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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Hillary says: ‘Our Goal Is to Defeat Al-Qaida and Its Extremist Allies’

In Afghanistan, foreign policy, Global News, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton on November 15, 2009 at 10:13 am

SPIEGEL Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

PHILIPPINES-US-DIPLOMACY

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a thumbs up as she leaves Manila at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on November 13, 2009. Clinton stopped off in the Philippines for a two-day visit on the back of her participation at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore earlier in the week. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

Thumbs up from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to SPIEGEL about her hopes for Afghanistan, her fears about al-Qaida’s safe haven in Pakistan and her finite patience with Iran.

SPIEGEL: Madam Secretary, your government is considering sending more troops into Afghanistan. What for? Is it your goal to build a Western-style civil society there? Or is it just to prevent the establishment of new bases of terrorism?

Hillary Rodham Clinton : President Obama has not made any final decision. He has conducted a very deliberative process which has explored every assumption underlying every action. I think that this process alone has been quite productive. But I think it is fair to say that in the course of our examination, our goal is to defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies.

SPIEGEL: And what does this mean for the Afghan population, for their daily life?

Clinton : We are hopeful for the future of the people of Afghanistan to have a better life, to have political, social, economic development. But we are in Afghanistan because we cannot permit the return of a staging platform for terrorists. We think that al-Qaida and the other extremists are part of a syndicate of terror, with al-Qaida still being an inspiration, a funder, a trainer, an equipper and director of a lot what goes on. Two months ago we have arrested a gentleman who was plotting, it’s alleged, against the subway system in New York who went to a training camp of al-Qaida.

SPIEGEL: There are terrorist attacks in Afghanistan on a daily basis. Therefore a lot of people in Germany ask: Do we really have to defend our freedom there? Should our troops die for a corrupt government?

Clinton : I don’t think they are fighting and sacrificing for the Afghan government — they do this for all of us. The soldiers in the Afghan army are willing to fight as well and they are often dying alongside our soldiers. It is very clear that the people in Afghanistan do not want the Taliban back. In every single survey that we have ever seen, they reject the extremism that they lived with from the Taliban. In order to accomplish the goal we set of having a country that is able to stand up and defend itself, there has to be an effort for more accountability; the rule of law; security. Our chances of success in this struggle are enhanced by a government in Afghanistan that can be a partner that can help to train and deploy a bigger and more effective security force. We have to try to better organize our efforts and try to demand more from the Afghan government itself.

SPIEGEL: After the election fraud in favor of President Hamid Karzai — shouldn’t you insist on a government of national unity, including his challenger Abdullah Abdullah?

Clinton : Well, I think that what we are interested in is an effective government. Who the personalities are is not as big a concern as having competent, effective, honest members of the government. But we are not only looking at the government in Kabul, we are also looking at the government throughout the country. Because very often, it is local governance, as it has historically been in Afghanistan, that delivers services, that provides security. So we think more has to be done with the local government structures.

SPIEGEL: Do we understand you correctly: The US government is thinking about naming local governors or at least influencing their nomination?

Clinton : I think that a number of us — not just the United States but a number of NATO members, too — agree with what Prime Minister Brown said last week: That there has to be more accountability. We do see this as in our national security interest, but part of being successful and protecting our interest is having a better partner in Afghanistan. And we will be making our views known and we will have certain measurements of accountability that we expect.

SPIEGEL: President Karzai has already made clear that he refuses to tolerate interference.

Clinton : We do not think that is interference. The most common kind of formulation that I and others have learned from the Afghans themselves is: We need your help to get us in a position where we can defend ourselves against the threats of the Taliban and al-Qaida-terrorists – and then we need you to go. Well, that pretty much summarizes what we want to do as well. We have no intention of staying or occupying territory. But we want to leave a stable enough situation behind that the Afghans can defend themselves.

Part 2 and 3 at link:
Link

Clinton outraged by guards’ sexual misconduct

In Afghanistan, Armor Group of North America, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton on September 4, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Hillary US Afgan GuardsWASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is “genuinely offended” by reports of misconduct by private guards working for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, a State Department spokesman said Thursday.

Those who engaged in such activities will be dismissed from their posts, spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Allegations of lewd behavior and sexual misconduct among the private security contractors guarding the embassy surfaced including reports of threats, intimidation and guards and supervisors in various stages of nudity at parties flowing with alcohol.

Clinton “is very displeased that this could have happened and that this could have happened without our knowledge,” Crowley said.

Any employees of ArmorGroup North America who created what a watchdog group described as a “Lord of the Flies” environment at the guard’s living quarters “will be removed and taken out of the country and will find a new line of work,” he said. The “Lord of the Flies” reference is to a novel about a group of British schoolboys stranded on a desert island who try, but fail, to govern themselves in a chaotic setting.

The State Department launched an investigation following the allegations from the Project on Government Oversight, the Washington-based independent watchdog group.

In at least one case, supervisors allegedly brought prostitutes into the quarters where the guards live, a serious breach of security and discipline, the group said.

In other instances, members of the guard force have drawn Afghans into activities forbidden by Muslims, such as drinking alcoholic beverages.

“This violated our values,” Crowley said. “This potentially compromised … the important work of the United States embassy in Kabul.”

The State Department has insisted security at the embassy in Kabul, one of the country’s most important diplomatic outposts, hasn’t been compromised.

ArmorGroup was awarded the $189 million security contract in March 2007 and has been repeatedly warned of performance deficiencies. Wackenhut Services, ArmorGroup’s parent company, referred all questions to the State Department. Spokeswoman Susan Pitcher said the company is fully cooperating with the State Department’s investigation.

Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, is actively involved in the inquiry, Crowley said. About 60 people have already been interviewed.

Alcohol has been prohibited at Camp Sullivan, the offsite location near the embassy where the ArmorGroup guards live, and diplomatic security staff have been assigned to the camp, according to the embassy.

On the Net:

Project on Government Oversight: http://www.pogo.org/

U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan: http://kabul.usembassy.gov/

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Besides being awarded the contract in 2007, Armor Group of North America, a subsidiary of Wackenhut , should suffer penalties and a partial refund for breach of  contract providing inferior services not up to US standards as promised in their contract.

Secretary Clinton in the Hague for Astan Conference

In Afghanistan, Global News, Politics, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, The Hague, United States on March 31, 2009 at 5:43 am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures, as she arrives at Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, Monday March 30, 2009, ahead of Tuesday's U.N.-sponsored conference on the future of Afghanistan. The international conference on pacifying Afghanistan will include two unlikely partners for peace, the United States and Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the U.N.-sponsored conference Tuesday in the Netherlands. And a Dutch diplomat said Monday that Iran will send its deputy foreign minister, Medhi Akhundzadeh, to the meeting, as well. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures, as she arrives at Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, Monday March 30, 2009, ahead of Tuesday's U.N.-sponsored conference on the future of Afghanistan. The international conference on pacifying Afghanistan will include two unlikely partners for peace, the United States and Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the U.N.-sponsored conference Tuesday in the Netherlands. And a Dutch diplomat said Monday that Iran will send its deputy foreign minister, Medhi Akhundzadeh, to the meeting, as well. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

NETHERLANDS AFGHANISTAN CONFERENCE

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves inside the limousine shortly after her arrival at Schiphol airport to attend the UN-conference on the future of Afghanistan. The Hague conference is officially being co-hosted by Afghanistan, the United Nations and the Dutch government.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves inside the limousine shortly after her arrival at Schiphol airport to attend the UN-conference on the future of Afghanistan. The Hague conference is officially being co-hosted by Afghanistan, the United Nations and the Dutch government.

U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke (L) speaks with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen before a meeting in The Hague March 30, 2009. The United States is expected to seek international support for its renewed commitment to defeat Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan at a U.N. conference in the Netherlands on Tuesday.Washington is hoping to enlist support from Iran, Russia, China and India amongst others for a new strategy to end a stalemate in Afghanistan and undercut an Islamist insurgency spilling increasingly into neighboring Pakistan.

U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke (L) speaks with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen before a meeting in The Hague March 30, 2009. The United States is expected to seek international support for its renewed commitment to defeat Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan at a U.N. conference in the Netherlands on Tuesday.Washington is hoping to enlist support from Iran, Russia, China and India amongst others for a new strategy to end a stalemate in Afghanistan and undercut an Islamist insurgency spilling increasingly into neighboring Pakistan.


Clinton Urges Aid for Afghanistan, Warns on Threats


(Update1)

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Gregory Viscusi and James G. Neuger

March 31 (Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pleaded for more financial aid for Afghanistan, warning world leaders not to use the economic slump as an excuse to short- change the country as the terrorist threat mounts.

Outlining President Barack Obama’s new war strategy at a meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, Clinton said extremists are on the march in Afghanistan and Pakistan and urged a renewed global push to stabilize the region.

“All too often in the past seven years, our efforts have been undermanned, underresourced and underfunded,” Clinton said. “While there is great temptation to retreat inward in these difficult economic times, it is precisely at such moments that we must redouble our efforts.”

The one-day, 73-country conference marks a turning point in the U.S. policy on Afghanistan, as Obama shifts the focus to economic reconstruction, eases pressure on Europe to send more troops, and steps up efforts to stamp out terrorist havens in neighboring Pakistan.

Since taking office in January, Obama has ordered 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to fight the resurgent Taliban, the radical Islamist movement ousted by the U.S. in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks. As part of a strategic review announced last week, Obama also said he will send 4,000 more trainers to Afghanistan to build up the local army.

European leaders, hectored by the Bush administration for failing to dispatch enough frontline troops to the war zone, expressed relief that the U.S. will shoulder the extra military burdens.

New U.S. Approach

The new U.S. approach is not to badger European governments to send forces they don’t have, a senior U.S. official told reporters in Brussels yesterday. Instead, as shown by today’s “big tent” conference, the point is to encourage allies to do what they can.

While financial aid to rebuild Afghanistan’s economy and build up its 79,000-strong army figures high on the priority list, today’s conference isn’t meant to solicit extra donations on top of more than $21 billion pledged at a Paris conference last June.

Still, some new aid was on offer. China offered $75 million over five years and Spain said it will consider pledging 120 million euros ($160 million) for 2010-12. The European Commission, donor of $2.1 billion to Afghanistan since 2002, said it will provide another 60 million euros for rural development and to help stage Afghan elections on Aug. 20. The U.S. offered $40 million for the elections, further defraying costs estimated by the United Nations at $220 million.

As the deepest economic slump since World War II strains government budgets, Clinton also said much of the money plowed into Afghanistan has been misspent on programs that don’t work.

Bloomberg

Secretary Clinton: Travel to The Hague for International Conference on Afghanistan, March 31

In Afghanistan, foreign policy, Global News, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, news, Politics, The Hague, United States on March 30, 2009 at 11:11 am

March 31, 2009 to April 1, 2009

sos-sealAt the invitation of Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to the Netherlands to attend the “International Conference on Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context” in The Hague on March 31. Building on the achievements of the conferences held in Bonn, in London, and most recently in Paris last year, The Hague Ministerial should reaffirm the solid and long-term commitment of the international community to supporting the Government of Afghanistan in shaping a better future for Afghanistan and its people.

Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke will accompany Secretary Clinton. The ministerial discussion will be co-chaired by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan Kai Eide, Afghan Foreign – Afghan Minister for Foreign Affairs Spanta, and Foreign Minister Verhagen. While in the Netherlands, Secretary Clinton will also have a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Verhagen to discuss issues of mutual interest.

International Conference on Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context

Hillary Clinton Seeks Support On Afghan Plan, Iran Contact

by Sue Pleming

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was en route to the Hague on Monday, set for her first contact with Iran at an international meeting and seeking support for Washington’s new war strategy in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials said Clinton did not plan “substantive” talks with Iran on the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan in the Netherlands but she hoped Tehran’s presence there would be helpful and could set a good tone for future engagement.”We hope they will sit down with us all at the table and that the Iranians will come ready, willing and able to help Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood, who is traveling with Clinton to the Hague.

“We want them to play a positive role,” he told Reuters.


The White House said it would like specifically to see Tehran’s help in fighting drug trafficking from Afghanistan, pointing to problems with heroin abuse in Iran.

The Obama administration, in a reversal of predecessor President George W. Bush’s policy of isolating Iran, wants to engage Tehran, particularly on areas of mutual concern like Afghanistan.

But U.S. officials have made clear pleasantries exchanged between Clinton and the Iranian delegation expected in the Hague will not end three decades of hostility with Tehran.

The demand remains that Iran must stop sensitive nuclear work the West says is aimed at building an atomic bomb and Iran argues is for electricity.

“Iran has a right to be a member of the international community, but with that right comes responsibilities — principally as it relates, in this instance, to its nuclear program,” said Denis McDonough, White House deputy national security adviser, in a weekend conference call.

Clinton proposed Tuesday’s one-day conference in the Hague, held under U.N. and Dutch auspices, and said Iran should be there along with delegates expected from over 80 nations.

She sees the conference as an opportunity to win global status of support for the Obama administration’s new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which was announced last Friday.


‘BUY IN’ SOUGHT for PLAN

“We are looking for buy-in, first and foremost,” said a senior State Department official of the new U.S. plan.

President Barack   Obama’s goal is to crush al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan and adopt a more regional approach to the conflict by involving neighbors such as Iran, as well as players India, China and Russia.

The United States also plans to send 4,000 more troops to train the Afghan army, along with hundreds of civilians to improve the delivery of basic services. This is in addition to 17,000 combat troops being added to Afghanistan before August elections.

Wood said Clinton was not going to the Hague armed with a “shopping list,” but others must do more and could offer practical help with equipment, transportation, training for Afghanistan’s police force and reconstruction projects.

“Failure is a real possibility. We have got to marshal all of our resources in a coherent and coordinated fashion.”

Former U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins, said he expected European countries could match U.S. offers in terms of economic resources and civilian personnel.

“I think that within reason the Europeans are going to respond,” said Dobbins,   now with the Rand Corporation think tank.

Dobbins said while Afghanistan would be the main focus at the meeting, Pakistan would have at least equal priority on the fringes of the conference.

The United States hopes a strong statement will emerge at the end of the meeting, emphasizing “unity of purpose” in tackling al Qaeda in Afghanistan and safe havens in Pakistan.

“It’s really a matter of coming together on the basic strategy,” said the senior State Department official.