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With Afghan Rifts of UN and Australia, Karzai and Obama, Mullah Omar Returns

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 25 -- A significant split in strategies in Afghanistan is being characterized by the UN as merely a matter of Australia's offer of a one-star general being too late. Australia's Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, in recent meeting in Canada with other defense chiefs, strongly criticized the UN's Kai Eide's approach to Afghanistan.

   Fitzgibbon said his offer was rebuffed not due to timing but to Eide's preference for agricultural and development aid over a more robust military strategy. Inner City Press on Tuesday at the UN in New York asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Michele Montas to respond to Australia's criticism. Video here, from Minute 18:40.

    Ms. Montas said that Australia's offer came in after a Canadian had been selected. But if Australia was going to pay its general, why not accept the offer? You can't have two generals at once, Ms. Montas said, adding Eide has a letter to the editor forthcoming that will address it.

  If she meant Eide's letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, it will not resolve the question. The split appears to be between the Europeans, represented by Kai Eide, and the approach articulated by Australia's Fitzgibbon but shared by, among others, the U.S. and Canada.

UN's Kai Eide, Al Qaeda and dissatisfaction not shown

  Despite expectations to the contrary, Barack Obama's replacement of George Bush may not lessen this rift. Word on the street in Kabul is that Obama inexplicably delayed in meeting with President Karzai, leading him to make his public and embarrassing offer to meet with no preconditions with Mullah Omar. Ironically, Obama is publicly more willing to meet with the presidents of Iran and Venezuela than with Afghanistan's.  Reach out to your enemies but not to your allies, the thinking seems to be.

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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