October 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2006
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ASIA

Afghanistan

Expected Council Action
No formal Council action on Afghanistan is expected for October, but members will closely watch developments. Given the deterioration in the security situation, a presidential statement or statements to the press seem possible.

Members are likely to hold discussions on the periodic report of the Secretary-General and the possibility of a Council mission to Afghanistan in November.

The mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expires on 13 October 2007 and that of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on 24 March 2007.

Key Recent Developments
Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated considerably. The Secretary-General has noted that “at no time since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001 has the threat to Afghanistan’s transition been so severe.” Major offensives by the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) coalition and the NATO-led ISAF were launched in the south.

NATO decided on 9 September to increase troop numbers by 2,500 as a result of the deterioration in security, but huge difficulties with troop generation have emerged. At press time, there seemed to be discussions on fast-tracking ISAF’s assumption of control over peacekeeping across Afghanistan by placing US troops in the east under NATO control. The Council renewed ISAF’s authorisation a month earlier than required, on 12 September, in response to a logistics-related request from NATO.

The security situation seems to have put on hold plans for the progressive withdrawal of US forces and increased opposition against the continuation of troops in Afghanistan in key ISAF-contributing countries such as Canada.

The regional dimension has also re-emerged. Afghan-Pakistani relations have soured over the issue of cross-border combatants and the countries’ national efforts to curb the activities of extremist insurgents. Diplomatic work is underway to improve bilateral relations.

Options
Available options include:

  • increasing the Council’s involvement on security issues, perhaps by requesting more detailed and timely reporting from ISAF (the Council has traditionally limited its involvement to reconstruction efforts) and supporting an increase in troops;
  • taking on the regional dimension, perhaps by supporting Afghan-Pakistani cooperation in counterinsurgency efforts; and
  • deciding to send a Council mission to Afghanistan.

Key Issues
The key issue is to preserve the political process and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. But the deterioration in the security situation seems to have emerged as the key immediate issue.

Council and Wider Dynamics
There seems to be no appetite among members to increase the Council’s involvement in the security situation. But members are aware that the recent deterioration could require a reassessment of strategies so far.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1707 (12 September 2006) extended ISAF’s mandate until 13 October 2007.
  • S/RES/1662 (23 March 2006) revised and extended UNAMA’s mandate until 24 March 2007.
 Selected Reports of the Secretary-General
 Other Relevant Documents
  • SC/8825 (11 September 2006) was a press statement expressing concern over the recent suicide bombings.
  • SC/8787 (26 July 2006) was a press statement marking ISAF’s expansion into the south.
  • S/2006/318 (24 May 2006) was the latest ISAF report.

Historical Background

  9 September 2006  NATO defence chiefs agreed to increase troop numbers by 2,500.
 31 July 2006  ISAF expanded its operations into southern Afghanistan.

For a complete historical background, please refer to the February 2006 Forecast.

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNAMA’s Chief of Mission
 Tom Koenigs (Germany)
 UNAMA: Size, Composition and Duration
  • Current strength: 199 international civilians, 729 local civilians, 12 military observers, seven civilian police, 41 UN volunteers
  • Duration: 28 March 2002 to present; mandate expires on 24 March 2007
 ISAF Military Commander
 Lt. Gen. David Richards (UK)
 ISAF: Size, Composition and Duration
  • Strength as of September 2007: about 18,500 troops (and an additional 2,500 authorised)
  • Contributors of military personnel: 37 NATO and non-NATO countries
  • Current top contributors: UK, Germany, Canada, US and the Netherlands
  • Duration: 20 December 2001 to present; mandate expires on 13 October 2007
 OEF: Size, Composition and Duration
  • Current strength: about 25,000 troops
  • Contributors of military personnel: twenty countries
  • Top contributor: US (23,000)
  • Duration: 7 October 2001 to present

Full forecast