Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Foreign Conflicts.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 23 November 2006

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Ceisteanna (113, 114, 115)

Paul McGrath


81 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the political and security situation in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39512/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Emmet Stagg


106 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of the International Security Assistance Force; the mandate which it holds for the maintenance of security in support of the Afghan Transitional Authority; and the assistance involved. [39551/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan


209 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the situation in Afghanistan; if stability is expected to be restored in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39820/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81, 106 and 209 together.

In any country, developing the democratic structures, institutions and administrative systems necessary to provide essential public services and to ensure a secure environment for all its people is a process that takes time. I believe that this is an important period for Afghanistan in consolidating the progress that has been made. It is important that we, the international community, do not allow Afghanistan to fail. Within the EU, discussions are currently taking place on possible further EU support for the rule of law sector in Afghanistan. The EU will continue to explore ways in which it can improve its effectiveness in supporting the Government and other actors to continue to seek to improve the situation in the country. We continue to encourage the Afghan government to take all necessary steps in addressing serious issues relating to impunity and corruption, as well as expanding legitimate government control and human security through the country.

The Afghan Parliament has now voted in the remaining Cabinet and Supreme Court members, and has started to review the country's current legislation. The appointment of a new, reform-minded Supreme Court is a positive development, as has been the work of officials, including the new Attorney General, in tackling corruption. The reform process is continuing with the assistance of the international community across all sectors, including the administrative and judicial systems, the police service and army.

The Afghanistan Compact, launched at the International Conference on Afghanistan in London on 31 January/1 February, and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 1659 (2006), continues to guide the joint efforts of the Afghan Government and the international community in meeting outstanding challenges across three pillars of activity: security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and economic and social development. Ireland pledged €5 million at the launch of the Compact, which will be expended over the next two years. Ireland has contributed a total of €22 million to reconstruction and recovery programmes in Afghanistan since January 2002.

Ensuring security in Afghanistan is an especially challenging and complex task, particularly given the presence of violent factions who stand to benefit considerably from a destabilised country. Though the past five months have witnessed an increase in fighting in the south and insurgency-related security incidents in the capital, there has been a marked decrease in both since the beginning of November. The recent success of ‘Operation Medusa' in the south, involving the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) , has delivered a blow to Taliban military capabilities. At the same time, the continuing challenge from the Taliban is worrying, and the security situation remains a cause of serious concern. Long-term success will depend on significant improvements in governance and prompt delivery of humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.

The illicit narcotics industry also remains a major challenge to the long-term security, development and effective governance of Afghanistan. In cooperation with the international community, the Afghan Government operates a Counter Narcotics Implementation Plan and a National Drugs Control Strategy in an effort to work towards elimination of the narcotics trade. Reported statistics for the 2005-2006 opium crop are disappointing. Though eradication rose by 210%, production is believed to have still increased significantly. Counter narcotics efforts were identified as a cross-cutting priority in the Afghan Compact and will be a particularly important challenge in the period ahead.

ISAF, under NATO leadership, deployed to the eastern part of Afghanistan in October, hitherto the exclusive domain of the ANA and the US-led international coalition, Operation Enduring Freedom. This means that ISAF is now responsible for security assistance throughout the whole country. Seven members of the Irish Defence Forces currently serve in ISAF, based in Kabul.

ISAF is a UN Chapter VII operation, originally mandated by Security Council Resolution 1386 of 20 December 2001, and extended in September last by Security Council Resolution 1707. Its present mandate runs to October 2007. It is composed of contingents from both NATO and other contributing countries and, as indicated, is deployed under the authorisation of the UN Security Council.

ISAF's mandate is for the maintenance of security in support of the Afghan Transitional Authority — which has since been succeeded by the Government of Afghanistan. The mandate authorises ISAF "to support the Afghan Transitional Authority and its successors in the maintenance of security in areas of Afghanistan outside of Kabul and its environs, so that the Afghan Authorities as well as the personnel of the United Nations and other international civilian personnel engaged, in particular, in reconstruction and humanitarian efforts, can operate in a secure environment, and to provide security assistance for the performance of other tasks in support of the Bonn agreement."

Question No. 82 answered with QuestionNo. 13.
Question No. 83 answered with QuestionNo. 70.
Questions Nos. 84 and 85 answered with Question No. 33.
Question No. 86 answered with QuestionNo. 52.