The United Nations today temporarily pulled half its international staff out of Afghanistan and threatened that a complete and permanent withdrawal could follow.Kabul is coming apart. The Karzai government has no international legitimacy, and no factual control over anything outside the Green Zone. Gordon Brown and Kai Eide will say what Obama will not: that the mission in Afghanistan may beyond hope, and it could be time to cut losses and leave.
Amid an atmosphere of increasing gloom in Afghanistan, the UN Special Representative in Kabul, Kai Eide delivered a pointed warning to the government of Hamid Karzai.
“There is a belief among some, that the international community (presence) will continue whatever happens because of the strategic importance of Afghanistan,” he told a press conference this morning. “I would like to emphasise that that’s not true.”
He added that the Afghan government must demonstrate a willingness to reform and address corruption and the power of warlords.
Of the 1,100 foreign UN workers, 600 will now leave until the situation improves. The remaining UN workers are to be relocated inside Kabul from the current network of 93 different UN guesthouses, many of them privately run civilian houses, to a one large compound which is currently used for the European Union police training mission. The new arrangement will echo the ‘Green Zone’ found in Baghdad.
The move follows last week’s attack on a UN guesthouse in the heart of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in which five UN international staff were killed by gunmen and suicide bombers who were disguised in police uniform.
What Obama wants to do in Afghanistan may not matter in the end.