[QODLink]
Europe
EU 'losing faith' in Afghanistan
Leaked US cables quote EU president saying that European troops are deployed in Nato force in 'deference' to the US.
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2010 14:20 GMT
Van Rompuy said that EU nations were involved in Afghanistan 'out of deference to the US' [File: EPA]

The European Union no longer believes that US and Nato forces can succeed in Afghanistan, but continues to commit troops to the fight "out of deference to the United States", the EU president is quoted as saying in leaked US diplomatic cables.

Herman Van Rompuy, who at the time was president-designate, was quoted as telling Howard Gutman, the US ambassador to Belgium, in December 2009 that 2010 would be the "last chance" for Afghanistan in European eyes.

"Europe is doing it and will go along out of deference to the United States but not out of deference to Afghanistan," Van Rompuy is quoted as saying in the cable posted by the WikiLeaks whistleblowing website on Sunday.

"No one believes in Afghanistan any more. But we will give it 2010 to see results. If it doesn't work, that will be it because it is the last chance. And if a Belgian gets killed, it would be over for Belgium right then."

The cable did not detail Van Rompuy's complaints about the conflict in Afghanistan, and did not say whether it was the government in Kabul or the drawn out war with the Taliban that was the primary source of EU frustration.

Military commitment

About 30,000 European troops are on the ground in Afghanistan as part of the Nato-led International Security Force. The total US and Nato force in the country is about 150,000-strong.

Members of the Nato military alliance, which includes the EU countries contributing troops, agreed at a summit in Lisbon last month that responsibility for security would be handed over to the Afghans from 2011, with the country's security forces taking complete control by 2014.

Nato and the US have sustained heavy losses during the nine-year conflict in Afghanistan and there are very few signs that the violence is slowing.

More than 670 foreign soldiers have been killed this year, according to a count based on figures kept by the independent icasualties.org website. That figure is up from 2009 when 521 were killed.

The latest casualties came on Sunday as the leaked cable was published as two Nato soldiers and two Afghan troops were killed in a suicide attack close to a joint military base in Gardez, the provinical capital of eastern Paktia province.

However, the EU's weariness with the conflict in Afghanistan could also stem from anger with Hamid Karzai, the president, who had been sworn in for a second term, just weeks before the Van Rompuy meeting, after an election marred by widespread fraud.    

The hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks have already revealed US concerns over Karzai's reliability as a partner. In one, Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Kabul, describes the Afghan president as "a paranoid and weak individual".  

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
Some scientists say authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers.
Report on child sex abuse in British Asian community highlights issues that may affect the entire nation.
Taliban makes quick gains in Afghanistan with little opposition from Afghan army as US withdrawal begins.
Experts from Minamata, Japan check for signs of mercury illnesses in Ontario, Canada.
join our mailing list