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On Afghanistan, UNSC Looks Forward to NATO "Non-Combat" Mission

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3, more here -- Given the new bilateral agreements between Afghanistan with NATO, and separately with the US, some were asking: a new UN Security Council resolution needed?

  Back on October 9, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, “We would want to have a UN resolution, a resolution of the U.N. Security Council.”

  And on December 11 they got a resolution, which looks forward to a "non combat" mission. But how does it relate to US forces in Afghanistan?

   US President Barack Obama's December 11 War Powers letter to the Congress said:

"Following the completion of the ISAF mission at the end of 2014, the mission to help train, advise, and assist the ANSF and  Afghan ministries and institutions will continue through the follow-on NATO-led Resolute Support Mission. Today, there are approximately 15,000 U.S. forces inAfghanistan. The U.S. Armed Forces are on track to draw down to  a Force Management Level of 9,800 by early 2015... By the end of 2016, U.S. forces would draw down to a small presence at our embassy in Kabul, focusing primarily on security assistance activities. The United States would continue to work with our Afghan partners to pursue the remnants of al-Qa'ida and more broadly to work with our partners in the region to continue to detect and disrupt extremist threats."

As the deadline drew near, and it emerged that contrary to what was previously announced the US does envision conducting some combat operations in Afghanistan after the end of the year, the question was whether a resolution could be adopted in the Security Council.

   Inner City Press on December 3 asked the ambassadors of both Russia and the United Kingdom about it. Russia's Vitaly Churkin told Inner City Press, “there is anther complicating element. The American operations in Afghanistan on basis of the bilateral agreement with Afghanistan are not covered by this NATO Afghanistan arrangement, and therefore will not be covered by this possible Security Council resolution.”

   He said, “the American seem to have changed their minds. Originally they announced that after this year they would not engage in combat operations. Now there are reports that after all they do envision the possibility of some combat operations. I think that in that context there also needs to be a concern, will NATO be able to stay within announced scope of just training and supporting the Afghani forces?”

 Churkin said that some in NATO now says that a resolution is not absolutely necessary but that “this is required by some counties, both members of NATO and non members of NATO who theoretically would like to participate. But they have their requirements and we have our requirements on the Security Council,” including a substantive end of mission report, and future reporting to the Security Council.

  He concluded that there are too many unanswered questions to say with certainty that the Security Council will be able to adopt a resolution. He said, “there are curtain requirements, we believe, which need to be met. The first requirement is that before we encourage in any way a new operation we need to be updated on the results of the previous operation. At this point there is no assurance that we’ll receive a substantive report. Not just a short sentence that they have completed their mission, but one containing an analysis of what has been accomplished and what has not. This is the first requirement. Another requirement is that we believe that the Security Council cannot simply produce a text of a resolution and let the process go into the blue. We need reports to the SC. And for some reason NATO countries are reluctant to give us assurance that they are going to report their activities to the SC. Without periodic reports to the SC we believe it’s rather strange to endorse something and than to forget all about it.”

  Moments later, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant about it, as he headed to the Permanent Five members' meeting room, into which his Australian counterpart Gary Quinlan had already gone in. Lyall Grant told Inner City Press that some do want such a resolution, and that there'll be a discussion.

  Now on December 12, after a December 10 consultation at the Permanent Representative level, the adopted resolution "welcomes the agreement between NATO and Afghanistan to establish the post-2014 non-combat Resolute Support Mission, which will train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces at the invitation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”

 The resolution “affirms its readiness to revisit this resolution in the context of the Council's consideration of the situation in Afghanistan.” We'll see. Watch this site.

Watch this site.


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