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Frmr UN Human Rights Investigator: Obama’s 30k Troops to Afghanistan is a Mistake

from DemocracyNow.org

Former UN Human Rights Investigator Cherif Bassiouni: Despite Obama Claims, No Military Solution for Afghanistan

At his first news conference, President Obama emphasized the importance of removing “safe havens” for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and said he had no timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. We speak to Cherif Bassiouni, a former UN human rights investigator in Afghanistan. He was fired in 2005 after releasing a report criticizing the US for committing human rights abuses in Afghanistan. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Afghanistan, a country that the Obama administration has made clear will remain at the center of its priorities. The United States has over 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, and that number is expected to double. At his press conference last night, President Obama emphasized the importance of removing “safe havens” for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and said he had no timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

:

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now from Chicago by international law expert and former UN human rights investigator in Afghanistan, Cherif Bassiouni, law professor at DePaul University, president emeritus of the International Human Rights Law Institute. In 2005, he was forced out of the United Nations under pressure from the US just days after he released a report criticizing the US for committing human rights abuses in Afghanistan.

Professor Bassiouni, welcome to Democracy Now! What about the Obama administration’s approach to Afghanistan?

CHERIF BASSIOUNI: Well, I’m not really sure there is an approach yet. I think that there is an evaluation that is ongoing and that—I get the feeling that there is a sort of a distinction between the way the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of Defense sees things and the way Holbrooke and the State Department experts see things. I think on the defense side, the military would be much more comfortable with having a specific military mission of simply going after the Talibans, al-Qaeda and their supporters in Pakistan. I think that they are very averse to fulfilling the function of a police support force to help in the economic development of the country.

On the other hand, the country has been basically under occupation, for all practical purposes, by US and NATO forces, and the Karzai government has basically been responsive to instructions from the US. And yet, there has been very little of a peace dividend, very little economic development in the provinces. The result has been, over the last five years, in particular, that the government has really shrunk, in terms of its control, to the Kabul area, and the rest of the provinces are just left out there.

I am convinced that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. There is an economic development solution, but I don’t see that as coming.

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