Development News from Afghanistan

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Afghan police program in turmoil

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By Judy Dempsey
the International Herald Tribune
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

BERLIN: The general commanding the European Union police training mission in Afghanistan is returning to Germany three months after his appointment because of wrangling among the European Union, NATO and the Afghan Interior Ministry, senior Western diplomats in Kabul said.

Friedrich Eichele, a former commander of the elite German commando unit GSG-9 who was appointed in June to head the police mission, will return to run the anti-riot police unit as soon as Berlin chooses his successor.

“We can confirm that Brigadier General Eichele will be returning to Germany very soon,” a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

Diplomats and security experts in Kabul said Eichele’s early departure – reportedly at his own request – highlights the immense difficulties in trying to establish the small mission of 190 European trainers at a time when alliance forces have to deal with increased fighting by the Taliban, Al Qaeda and local warlords, particularly in the south of the country.

They said the mission had been underfunded, understaffed and poorly prepared.

“It seems that the EU was not really properly prepared for such a complex mission,” said Ronja Kempin, an Afghan expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. “The EU seemed to have rushed into setting up this mission. Then there is one of the biggest difficulties of all – the pervasive corruption in the Afghan Interior Ministry with whom Eichele has had to work directly.”

The United States, the EU, the United Nations and NATO in recent months have stepped up their efforts with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to tackle corruption and to improve and coordinate the training programs for the Afghan police.

The EU agreed to take over the police training mission from Germany because NATO had asked the Union to start providing civilian security in Afghanistan. The idea was that once NATO gained control of an area, the newly trained Afghan police would move in to maintain security so that the development agencies could carry out their projects.

But the EU police force has been hampered from the beginning, according to diplomats in Kabul. The EU member states have provided only half the personnel so far, with the remainder promised by next March. The European Commission, the EU executive, has delayed approving a budget for 70 armored cars, computers and office equipment which have still not arrived in Kabul. The total commission budget for the first year of the mission was €43.6 million, or $60.2 million.

Eichele’s staff does not have enough cars, computers or offices to function, diplomats in Kabul said.

“We cannot travel outside Kabul because the armored-plated cars have not arrived,” said an EU diplomat based in Kabul and who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. He said the original cost of the vehicles was €110,000 but had increased to €170,000 because the security specifications changed. “Germany gave us 15 such vehicles. Because the costs went up, the commission went back to drawing up a new budget, issue new tenders, and so there were more delays.”

The EU Commission for External Relations, which is responsible for financing the Union’s common foreign and security policy and a part of the police mission, said Tuesday that there had been some delays.

“There has been a bit of a delay because it is a very difficult mission,” said a commission official. “The EU wanted to get it off the ground as quickly as possible. It is beginning to work now.”

The police mission has also become embroiled in a turf war inside the European Union and with NATO. The EU’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, wanted political control over the mission, which Eichele opposed.

“There were personality clashes,” said an official from the German Interior Ministry.

With the increase in fighting in several Afghan provinces, Eichele wanted guarantees from NATO that it would provide assistance if any of the police officers came under attack. In an interview last month with the International Herald Tribune, Eichele said “so far we have no cooperation agreement with NATO.” The agreement has been held up by Turkey, a leading NATO member.

NATO said Tuesday it would continue to assist the police. “NATO has been providing assistance until now to European police in Afghanistan,” said James Appathurai, a NATO spokesman. “I cannot imagine that in the future, NATO will not provide to EU officials anything less that the same support we provide to other organizations, like the United Nations.”


Written by afghandevnews

September 12, 2007 at 1:16 am

Posted in Governance, Security

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