Norway Afghanistan involvement up in parliament / News / The Foreigner

Norway Afghanistan involvement up in parliament. Incumbent Norwegian Foreign and Defence Ministers explain what has been gleaned. Norway also contributed to the early release of a Taliban commander convicted of kidnapping, it is revealed. Tuesday’s gathering in parliament of MPs, Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, and Minister of Defence Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide follows last summer’s presentation of the Scandinavian country’s efforts in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. The some 230-page report by the government-appointed Godal Committee, entitled A Good Ally in Afghanistan – Norway in Afghanistan 2001-14 concluded that the Norwegian effort “has constituted a very small portion of the total use of resources in Afghanistan.”

afghanistan, taliban, aid, paywall



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Norway Afghanistan involvement up in parliament

Published on Tuesday, 10th January, 2017 at 12:18 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .
Last Updated on 10th January 2017 at 12:48.

Incumbent Norwegian Foreign and Defence Ministers explain what has been gleaned. Norway also contributed to the early release of a Taliban commander convicted of kidnapping, it is revealed.

Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan
Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan
Photo: Forsvaret/Lars Magne Hovtun


Tuesday’s gathering in parliament of MPs, Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, and Minister of Defence Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide follows last summer’s presentation of the Scandinavian country’s efforts in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014.

The some 230-page report by the government-appointed Godal Committee, entitled A Good Ally in Afghanistan – Norway in Afghanistan 2001-14 concluded that the Norwegian effort “has constituted a very small portion of the total use of resources in Afghanistan.”

“It has consequently not contributed to changing the main picture regarding the country's development.”  

Staying the course

9,000 members of the Norwegian military served in Afghanistan. The world community has spent NOK 4,500 billion on the war against the Taliban, with Norway’s spending accounting for around NOK 20bn.

Norway has received little in return for their military and civilian efforts, reports NRK.

Norwegian Parliament building
Norwegian Parliament building
Norwegian Parliament/Flickr
Arne Strand, senior researcher at the Christian Michelsen Institute in Oslo, says that three areas can provide important learning for politicians and that “we must realise that part of what we’ve done there hasn’t worked”:

  • Too much was promised before entering Afghanistan
  • Little is achieved by working alone
  • Building democracy and peace in the country will take time

“It’s completely impossible to believe that one can achieve this in five years. One must be prepared for that changes will happen over time and for staying the course.”

Former Norwegian Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide has also acknowledged that military forces were idealistic regarding the operation in Afghanistan.

Quietly released                                

Norway has held peace talks regarding Afghanistan, as well as having conducted them with the Taliban themselves. Moreover, officials have invited some of its members to Oslo to attend a peace seminar.

Reports say that winter 2009’s early release of then Taliban commander Muhammad Akbar Agha, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for kidnapping three UN workers in the Afghan capital in 2004 and threats to decapitate them, saw involvement by Norway too.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in 2003
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in 2003
U.S. Department of State/Public Domain
While the Godal Committee’s public inquiry shows that Norway asked authorities in Afghanistan to release a jailed Taliban member, NRK writes that a source with knowledge of the matter tells them that this was Agha, and that it was well-known that the Taliban wanted him to be pardoned.

The BBC states that friends said that President Hamid Karzai had pardoned him. This was conditional upon the Taliban commander staying in Kabul. According to the Committee’s report, it was Norway that undertook the job of bringing the Taliban’s wishes to the President.

“No comment”     

The UN learnt of Muhammad Akbar Agha’s planned release in August via the head of the Supreme Court.

Norway’s Kai Eide, the then Norwegian head of the UN’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), was irritated that Agha being set free took place through what he termed as being an “unacceptable channel”. Neither Eide nor President Karzai had discussed the matter with each other.

It is alleged that Norway had a plan regarding the Taliban commander’s supervision, with NRK also reporting that matters were conducted via the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS) in Afghanistan.

Norway gave aid money to CAPS, which was headed by then President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, Hekmat Karzai. According to the Norwegian broadcaster, this was so that the Centre could ensure that Agha was looked after following his release.

Kai Eide in press encounter,UNAMA, Kabul
Kai Eide in press encounter,UNAMA, Kabul
Fardin Waezi/UNAMA
A current member of staff confirms to NRK that CAPS, which amongst other things gives free legal aid to jailed Taliban members, had helped Agha. The former Taliban commander now acts as an advisor at CAPS.

Muhammad Akbar Agha has not answered the Norwegian broadcaster’s request for interview.Current Norwegian Ambassador to Sweden Kai Eide, who NRK writes was probably not aware of that Norway had contributed to Agha’s release, did not wish to comment on the matter.

“We do not comment on which possible peace and reconciliation commitments Norway has or supports,” Marte Lerberg Kopstad, senior advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tells the broadcaster in an email.

Further reading:

The Godalen Committee’s report (in Norwegian only)
Norway’s engagement in peace processes since 1993 (in English)




Published on Tuesday, 10th January, 2017 at 12:18 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .
Last updated on 10th January 2017 at 12:48.

This post has the following tags: afghanistan, taliban, aid, paywall.





  
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