World Watch

4 minute read

Can’t Buy Security
Afghanistan ‘s interim government may be inexperienced, but it’s already learned one valuable skill: how to raise money. At a conference in Berlin of international donors, opened by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the government of President Hamid Karzai drummed up $8.2 billion in pledges over the next three years, with $4.4 billion for this year alone, surpassing even the government’s wish list. But as Karzai admitted, the big donations don’t mean the country’s problems are close to being solved. With elections just six months away, says Barnett Rubin of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, the big issue is the lack of security outside Kabul: “They certainly won’t be able to carry out reconstruction if they don’t have security in the provinces.” The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force has 6,500 troops in Afghanistan, but few outside Kabul.

The Afghan army of 10,000 men is smaller than most of the militias led by the country’s many warlords. Kevin Henry, advocacy director for the charity CARE, says the economy’s dependence on opium production is another huge problem. He says 75% of the world’s opium supply comes from Afghanistan, employing 1.7 million farmers. “We need to have poppies uprooted and traditional crops grown again,” says Henry. The opium problem is linked to the lack of security, because there are no troops in remote areas to enforce drug laws. As Karzai told aid donors, “We’re just taking baby steps toward handling our security environment.” Hopefully, the generous pledges of aid will allow him to take larger strides. — By Charles P. Wallace

Allies in the East
BELGIUM The accession of seven East European countries to NATO was marked by a flag-raising ceremony at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels and celebrations on the streets of the new members’ capitals. The expansion, the biggest in the


organization’s 55-year history, brought total membership to 26.

Catching Up with ETA
FRANCE French police, in conjunction with the Spanish Civil Guard, arrested three suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA. Officers detained Félix Ignacio Esparza Luri — who acting Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said was ETA’s logistics chief — in the southwestern city of Dax . Former ETA leader Félix Alberto López de la Calle, who had been on the run since escaping house arrest in November 2000, was apprehended in the western town of Angoulême, along with suspected ETA operative Mercedes Chivite Berango.

Ouster in the Offing
LITHUANIA The Constitutional Court found that President Rolandas Paksas had violated the constitution in awarding citizenship to Russian businessman Yuri Borisov, who helped finance his election campaign. The ruling paves the way for an impeachment vote in parliament as early as this week.

A Tightening Grip
GEORGIA President Mikheil Saakashvili’s National Movement-Democrats party is set to dominate parliament after winning 67% of the vote in the general election. The New Right-Industrialists was the only other party to clear the 7% electoral minimum required to have a parliamentary presence.

Mounting Crisis
SUDAN The U.N. said it would send a fact-finding mission to the western Darfur region after its emergency-relief coordinator in the area told the Security Council that Arab militias are conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against black Sudanese.

Vote Enhancement
Congressman Antonio Jose de Moraes Souza was ordered to step down by an electoral court that found him guilty of buying votes with Viagra. The court concluded that a doctor arrested at a rally for Souza in 2002 — wearing a campaign cap and T shirt — was distributing the anti-impotency drug and other remedies at Souza’s behest in exchange for promises of ballot-box support. Souza said he would appeal.

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