Afghan troops hunt 200 Taliban after 20 militants killed
Wednesday May 26, 8:54 PM AFP
Afghan troops were hunting up to 200 suspected Taliban after 20 militants were killed by US warplanes and Afghan ground forces during a clash with militants hiding out in mountains bordering Pakistan.
The planes on Tuesday bombed Arghistan, near the border town of Spin Boldak about 470 kilometers (290 miles) southwest of Kabul, where around 200 Taliban suspects armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and AK-47 rifles were hiding, Kandahar intelligence chief Abdullah Laghmanai said Wednesday.
"During the operation 20 Taliban were killed, two of them were senior commanders," Laghmanai told AFP. He named the two Taliban commanders as Qari Faizullah and Qari Ali Mohammed.
"The operation is still on going with government troops chasing down Taliban to the Pakistani border. According to our intelligence we estimated that 200 Taliban were in the area and now they have scattered."
Kandahar military spokesman General Abdul Wasay said US air support came in when Taliban fighters attacked the district.
"But government troops in the district, numbering 60 to 100 people, resisted and defeated their attackers," he said, leaving more than 20 Taliban dead from either the bombardment or ground forces.
A US military spokesman said coalition planes bombed an area north of Spin Boldak after a US patrol came under attack from an unknown number of insurgents but could not confirm if any attackers were killed.
Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager also could not confirm whether it was the same incident.
"Coalition forces were engaged by anti-coalition militants down in that vicinity, south of (Zabul provincial capital) Qalat and north of Spin Boldak," he said. Arghistan is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Spin Boldak.
"Ground forces first called in air support as a show of force, but when the enemy continued to engage the coalition forces upgraded their request to precision ordnance."
There were no reports of US casualties during the exchange of fire which ended shortly after the bombing, he added.
"My impression is that after the use of those precision munitions that the engagement ended rather abruptly so I would say that at least that group of anti-coalition militants is on the run."
Afghan troops pursuing the fleeing Taliban fighters along the border had chased them to a village called Lwary, Wasay said.
Laghmanai said the US-led coalition provided air support, but no US troops were on the ground.
It was the largest number of Taliban killed in a clash so far this year and the biggest gathering of militants since last September when more than 100 suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters were killed during a massive US-Afghan operation in neighbouring Zabul province.
Mansager said insurgents had stepped up their activities across the troubled southern and southeastern frontier region over the past month.
"We have seen over the last four to six weeks an increase in general anti-coalition militia activity," he said.
"Our assessment is that there's no overarching guidance going down to those groups (but) there may be low-level coordination among groups," he said.
Afghanistan's southeast border with Pakistan is at the center of a bloody insurgency by Taliban fighters, many of whom operate out of sanctuaries over the border in Pakistan's remote tribal areas.
Mansager said most of the US-led coalition's 20,000 troops were deployed in the troubled southeast.
U.S. Attacks Taliban Camp in Afghanistan
Wed May 26,12:51 PM ET By NOOR KHAN, Associated Press Writer
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - U.S. warplanes struck a suspected Taliban camp during a battle with the militants in southern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday. At least eight fighters were killed, but no U.S. casualties were reported.
The firefight erupted Tuesday night after a U.S.-led patrol came across a group of militants, American spokesman Lt. Col. Tucker Mansager said. The troops then called in warplanes "for a show of force," he added.
"When that did not work, (the planes) used precision ordnance," Mansager told reporters. "Based on the fact that the engagement ended immediately after that, it would appear that it was successful."
An Afghan commander said the gunbattle was in the Arghistan district of Kandahar province. But Mansager put it across the ill-defined frontier of neighboring Zabul province, about 120 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul.
Provincial government spokesman Khalid Pashtun estimated that eight militants — including a local Taliban commander, Qari Mohammed Ali — were killed and four injured. Afghan commanders said earlier that as many as 20 Taliban were killed. No U.S. casualties were reported.
Troops were searching the area Wednesday for enemy casualties, Mansager said.
Mansager said he had no information on the involvement of Afghan troops in the fighting. But local military commander Khan Mohammed said the airstrike followed an assault by about 150 of his men on a Taliban camp on a rough mountainside and three of his men were injured in the three-hour gunbattle before the American planes struck.
The clash comes as American-led forces and insurgents have stepped up operations in the spring, fueling a spiral of violence that has killed more than 350 people this year and cast a shadow over plans for national elections in September.
Some 20,000 U.S. forces, up from 11,000 a few months ago, are in Afghanistan to hunt down supporters of the former Taliban regime and their al-Qaida allies who have threatened to sabotage the polls.
Mansager also said a U.S. patrol was attacked Monday in Deh Rawood, the capital of Uruzgan province, 250 miles southwest of Kabul, where Marines are based, but no casualties were reported. U.S. forces detained three suspects.
Separately, a bomb or old mine exploded near a United Nations vehicle as it crossed a bridge in Taloqan, northern Afghanistan, on Wednesday, officials said. No one was injured.
Afghan president wins US Liberty Medal
Thursday May 27, 2:22 AM AFP
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was named recipient of the 2004 Philadelphia Liberty Medal, given to those demonstrating leadership and vision in the pursuit of freedom.
The award is administered by the non-profit, non-political Philadelphia Foundation, a popular US community foundation.
Karzai is only the second Asian leader after former South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung to receive the medal since it was established in 1989.
Martin Meyerson, chairman of the medal's International Selection Commission, said it was given to world leaders of "great courage, vision and faith in the future," according to a statement from the foundation.
"President Karzai abundantly exhibits those cherished qualities," Meyerson said. "He is working tirelessly and skillfully to unify his country's diverse factions, strengthen its economy and move toward democratic values and practices."
Karzai played a significant role in his country's long war against the Soviet Union and became deputy foreign minister of the post-war government in 1992.
He broke with the Islamic militant Taliban group in 1995 after recognizing its extremism.
In 2001, after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan that ousted the ruling Taliban, Karzai was appointed head of his country and elected president in June 2002.
The statement said Karzai "has emerged as the most popular Afghan leader ever elected and is likely to win re-election in September 2004.
"Although his father was assassinated in 1999 and there have been attempts on his own life, President Karzai remains undeterred in his efforts to improve the security and well-being of his nation."
Warlords Pose Threat in Afghanistan
Wed May 26, 2:27 AM ET By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Donor countries are showing more generosity toward Afghanistan lately, but the international largesse may prove meaningless unless the country's continued violence can be controlled.
American officials are pleased with the upward trend in assistance promises, while privately criticizing Arab countries for reneging on Afghan aid pledges they made more than two years ago.
Most worrisome for U.S. officials and congressional leaders is the continued threat posed by regional warlords and their heavily armed militias.
"Without bringing security to Afghanistan, nothing else is possible," says Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group, a research foundation, says security in Afghanistan "affects everything from elections to reconstruction. ... This is not a post-conflict situation; an unrelenting battle continues in Afghanistan."
More than 2 1/2 years after the demise of the Taliban regime, regional warlords battle constantly over turf and narcotics trafficking.
There is strong bipartisan support in Washington for helping Afghanistan, the country that spawned al-Qaida and the Taliban, so that it does not descend into an anarchic haven for terrorists all over again.
President Hamid Karzai says the country's first national elections, set for September, could be jeopardized unless the private militias that control much of the country are disarmed.
On the plus side, donor countries pledged $8.2 billion for Afghanistan at a conference last month in Berlin. A U.S. commitment of $2.2 billion for 2004 was supplemented with promise of $400 million by Japan over two years, $391 million from Germany over four years, $850 million from the European Union for 2004 and $900 million by Britain over five years.
That's more than was pledged at a similar conference in Tokyo two years earlier, said Barnett Rubin of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.
"If the pledges are fulfilled, it will go a long way toward correcting the financial neglect from which Afghanistan has suffered," Rubin said.
But James Dobbins, an analyst at the Rand think tank and a former State Department expert on nation building, is less impressed.
He says $8.2 billion over three years "works out to $100 per Afghan per year — not bad — but Kosovo got four times more after just 11 weeks of bombing, and Bosnia seven times more after two."
Dobbins points out that various Afghan wars have lasted for more than 20 years.
U.S. officials cite the accomplishments of outside aid: 25 million school textbooks distributed, 203 schools constructed or rebuilt, 140 health clinics rehabilitated and 4.26 million children vaccinated against measles and polio.
They also tout the restoration of the war-ravaged, 310-mile Kabul-Kandahar highway. That trip, once a bone-jarring 12-hour adventure, now takes about four hours.
But no one doubts the distance the world's second-poorest country has to travel.
A recent study by the NYU center says average life expectancy is 43 years and that one out of four children dies before age 5.
On the economic front, opium poppy, the raw material for heroin, is the country's principal growth industry. According to the United Nations, Afghanistan accounts for three-quarters of the world's illicit opium production. Karzai has vowed to cut the poppy crop by 25 percent.
But for Afghans and their American patrons, security is the major concern. Barnett describes the level of international security assistance to Afghanistan as "pathetic." The NATO-led troop commitment is 6,000-strong and is deployed mostly in Kabul. The perceived dangers inhibit a more robust presence.
The United States itself has about 15,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of them attempting to hunt down remnants of al-Qaida and the Taliban in the border area with Pakistan.
Biden says that on security matters, the Afghan forces are still neophytes. He cites the scant progress toward the goal of disarming 40,000 of the nation's 100,000 warlord militiamen by June 30.
As of the first week in May, Biden says, "the number who had been disarmed was exactly zero."
EDITOR'S NOTE — George Gedda has covered foreign affairs for The Associated Press since 1968.
Bomb explodes near UN vehicle in northern Afghanistan
KABUL, May 26 (AFP) - An improvised bomb exploded Wednesday in northern Afghanistan as a United Nations vehicle was passing but caused no injuries, a spokesman for the organisation said. The incident occurred near the city of Taloqan in northern Takhar province, UN spokesman David Singh said.
'At about 4:00 pm (1330 GMT) today there was an explosion on a bridge in Taloqan while a UN vehicle was passing,' Singh told AFP. 'It seems it was an improvised explosive device,' he said, adding nobody was injured in the incident.
UN personnel have been subject to several attacks of this kind in Recent weeks, with teams working to register voters ahead of September elections targeted in particular.
Earlier this month two Britons and their Afghan interpreter were murdered in northeastern Nuristan as they were investigating the security situation in the province before voter registration could begin.
U.S. Seen Refusing to Invite Afghan Delegation to NATO Summit in Istanbul
RFE/RL 05/26/2004 By Amin Tarzi
Washington has allegedly refused to allow Afghan and Iraqi leaders to attend the upcoming NATO summit in Istanbul, "Istanbul Star," reported on 25 May. According to the paper, representatives from the provisional governments in Afghanistan and Iraq were not invited to the NATO summit in order to avoid a diplomatic "crisis" between Ankara and Washington.
The paper did not elaborate on the nature of the crisis. NATO's presence and hardships expanding its presence in Afghanistan are expected to figure on the agenda at the NATO summit.
Kabul to free last batch of Pakistani prisoners
(Dawn) - PESHAWAR: Afghanistan has agreed in principle to release the last batch of over 400 Pakistani prisoners being held in Kabul's notorious Pul-i-Churkhi prison.
Pakistan's ambassador in Kabul, Rustam Shah Mohmand told Dawn on phone from the Afghan capital that the release of these prisoners could take place in the next few days.
He said President Karzai's government had agreed to free 441 Pakistani militants captured by the US-led forces following the collapse of the Taliban government in November 2001.
If released, this would be the single largest and last batch of Pakistani prisoners from Afghanistan. The Afghan government has released more than 1,500 Pakistani prisoners from the Afghan jails so far.
One official said that the US had already conveyed to the Kabul government that it had no objection to the release of Pakistani prisoners. "This was the last hurdle in getting the release of our prisonersin Afghanistan and this too has beencleared.
Practically, there is no problem in letting these people go," said this official. He disclosed that Pakistan had assured to 'screen' all the returning militants to sort out the 'good guys' from the 'bad guys.'
A security official in Peshawar acknowledged in Peshawar that the government was in the process of setting up joint interrogation teams (JITs) to interrogate and debrief Pakistani prisoners on arrival from Kabul.
"Everything is being put in place," the security official said. "JITs are being set up to screen the returning Pakistanis," he said. Ambassador Mohmand said the prisoners to be released in one single batch would be bused from Kabul to Peshawar for onward interrogation in Rawalpindi. "Hopefully, this will happen in the next few days," he said.
Their release would complete the full repatriation of all those who had gone to Afghanistan to fight on the side of the Taliban against the US-led Northern Alliance forces.
They, however, would leave behind 20 to25 Pakistanis who are being held in Kabul on offences other than militancy. Most of those to be released are from the NWFP with some hailing from the Punjab also.
Pakistan made a request with Kabul to allow consular access to Pakistani prisoners, 22 of whom are said to be suffering from tuberculosis. "We have requested for consular access but they have not considered it yet.
Maybe they think that since they are going to be released any time soon, there is no need to any consular access," Mohmand argued. But he said that Pakistan was making efforts to secure the release of the Pakistani prisoners.
He said that he had raised the issue with Afghan Interior Minister Ahmad Jalali in a meeting in Kabul held on Tuesday, wherein the issue of prisoners' release was discussed.
Afghan cab driver who lied to FBI about explosives sentenced to 3 years
By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP): An Afghan cab driver who tried to buy enough explosives "to blow up a mountain'' and sought information on bridges and cruise ships has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to the FBI.
The sentencing, which exceeds guidelines suggesting a six-month term, came after prosecutors said Sayed Abdul Malike may have been planning terrorism or had "delusions of undertaking terrorist-type activities.''
Malike pleaded guilty in January in federal court in New York City's Brooklyn borough to making false statements to the FBI, admitting he had lied when he claimed not to have sought the explosives.
Defense attorneys said Malike was a depressed and misunderstood man who had been lured into a get-rich-quick scheme to blast-mine for gemstones in his homeland.
"We're bitterly disappointed and believe that the findings of the court were not consistent with the evidence presented,'' defense attorney Frederick Sosinsky said.
The investigation of Malike, a legal U.S. resident, began in March 2003, when a store owner in the New York borough of Queens reported that the defendant was seeking information on how to make a bomb.
Malike also traveled to Miami, where he took a sightseeing trip around the port, according to court documents. He so alarmed the captain with questions about the infrastructure of bridges and cruise ships that the captain reported his behavior to the Coast Guard, prosecutors said.
Malike was later lured into a series of meetings with an undercover agent posing as an illegal-explosives supplier.
The defendant was "evasive about his plans,'' but when asked how much explosive he needed he replied "that he was looking for enough to blow up a mountain,'' according to the criminal complaint against him.
The agent offered Malike a supply of C-4 for $10,000. But the defendant said that "he hadn't yet obtained the finances and that he could not store them in his apartment,'' the complaint said. Malike also requested five bulletproof vests, night-vision binoculars, sleeping pills and Valium, prosecutors said.
He was arrested last May after the undercover agent gave him 100 Valium tablets and 50 fake sleeping pills for $150.
After his arrest, he repeatedly lied about his contacts with the undercover agent, his interest in acquiring explosives, his travels in Florida and his past interactions with law enforcement, prosecutors said.
Japanese photographer temporarily detained in Afghanistan
Kyodo (Japan) Tuesday May 25, 10:34 PM
A freelance photographer from Obihiro in Hokkaido said Tuesday he was temporarily detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan earlier this month, apparently because the soldiers suspected him of being a member of an anti-U.S. group.
Noriyuki Yamagashira, 29, returned to Japan on Saturday. He entered Afghanistan on April 3.
According to Yamagashira, he was taking photographs of local residents near a U.S. forces facility in the heart of Kabul on May 9 when he was stopped by a guard and asked what sort of pictures he was taking. He was then taken inside the facility at gunpoint.
Yamagashira said he asked the U.S. forces to contact the Japanese Embassy but they refused.
He was then forced to go to his hotel in Kabul where the U.S. soldiers checked his belongings, and was transferred to what appeared to be a local police facility.
He was released May 10, a day after his detention, after a friend had sought help from the embassy.
Afghanistan's flag carrier resumes flights to Paris
KABUL, May 26 (AFP) - Afghanistan's national flag carrier resumed flights to the French capital after more than a decade's hiatus Wednesday, making it the airline's second European destination, an official said.
'Today's (Wednesday's) flight was the beginning of Ariana's flights to Paris,' Mohammed Nader Fayaz, commercial deputy chairman for Ariana Afghan Airlines, told AFP.
'We will have at least one flight each week -- if there are more passengers we will make it twice,' he said, adding that the last Ariana flight to Paris was shortly before the civil war began in 1992.
Fayaz said that one of Ariana's three Airbus planes, which were donated by India in 2002, will operate between Kabul and Paris each Wednesday.
The government-owned company regularly flies between Kabul and New Delhi, Islamabad and Dubai among several other destinations in the region. It flies less frequently to Frankfurt, Moscow and Istanbul.
Ariana, which used to serve western Europe and the former Soviet-bloc, suspended most operations during the 1992 to 1996 civil war which wrecked much of Kabul including the city's international airport.
International flights were curtailed and eventually stopped during the subsequent Taliban regime due to sanctions. Six of Ariana's eight planes were bombed in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
US movie actor is 'Afghan prince'
Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK BBC News
A Hollywood actor who starred in horror film Dawn Of The Dead has found he is prince of the Afghan province of Ghor.
Scott Reiniger, who appeared in the 1978 movie, is the great, great, great grandson of Josiah Harlan, the first American to set foot in Afghanistan.
As a result of a treaty Harlan signed, his heirs are granted the title Prince of Ghor in perpetuity.
Reiniger only found out his title after UK journalist Ben Macintyre published a book on his ancestor's life.
"My reaction initially was that it seemed incredibly surreal," Reiniger told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.
He discovered he was the prince of the western province of Ghor when his younger brother - who is named Harlan - emailed him after reading reviews of Macintyre's book.
Macintyre said he was as surprised as Reiniger himself to find Harlan's descendent was a cult horror star.
"I'd rather assumed that I'd done my best to track down his decedents," he said.
"But as [Josiah] Harlan had only one daughter, it was extremely hard to find them. And frankly we'd given up. So I was absolutely thrilled."
But Reiniger said he had no intention of claiming his title officially, and added that he felt his brother should have it anyway.
"He has the name and he's the historian in the family," he said.
"So I think he really should have the title."
Reiniger said he remembered his father talking about Josiah Harlan and also Alexander The Great when he was a child.
"He would demonstrate Alexander the Great's movements... sometimes he would pull out Josiah Harlan's sword, which my father had, and my brother now has," he said.
Macintyre, who had been examining the history of Afghanistan's troubles in the wake of 11 September, decided to investigate after he found that Josiah Harlan's name continually cropped up.
He found Harlan had agreed a treaty with the Hazaras, the decedents of the Mongols who lived in the principality of Ghor.
Harlan was a Pennsylvania-born adventurer who travelled to Afghanistan in the early 19th century, having sworn never to return to the US after an incident in Calcutta left him stranded.
He headed to Afghanistan with the intention of being made a king. He soon met up with Afghanistan's exiled king, to whom he was contracted to stir up rebellion in Kabul.
He was skilled at playing two sides against each other and continually switched his allegiance. But his skill as a military general was noted and the Emir of Kabul, Dost Muhammad Khan, made him commander-in-chief of Afghanistan's army.
In the winter of 1839, Khan asked him to take on a prince on the other side of the Hindu Kush with 4,000 men, 600 camels and an elephant.
This mission formed the basis for Rudyard Kipling's book The Man Who Would Be King, which, in a further Hollywood twist, was made as a film starring Sean Connery.
It was during this expedition that Harlan stuck his deal with the Hazaras, and in particular - Refee Beg, the Prince of Ghor at that time.
Harlan agreed to return with a large, trained army with which they would conquer Refee's neighbours. In return, Refee agreed to hand over sovereignty over Ghor to Harlan, and his heirs, in perpetuity.
"The treaty remains in effect," Macintyre explained.
"Although it would be a brave man who attempted to reassert his claim to be the Prince of Ghor at this stage."
Afghans may get a part-time army as West hesitates
By Mike Collett-White
KABUL, May 25 (Reuters) - Afghanistan may recruit part-time soldiers to improve security ahead of September elections, as the West drags its heels over committing more resources to the volatile country, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said private militias in several regions were a major destabilising factor that could see Afghanistan descend back into civil war.
Plans to build up the Afghan National Army (ANA) have lagged expectations, leaving many parts of the country under the sway of regional commanders and their private armies.
The government wants to disarm the factional militia, aiming to collect weapons from 40 percent of an estimated 40,000 fighters by the end of next month.
"Building the Afghan National Army is the single most important project for making Afghanistan into a functional place," the official told reporters.
"That is the single most important way to avoid a civil war... By keeping multiple militias they are keeping the fundamental elements that could bring about another civil war."
Aware of time constraints ahead of landmark presidential and parliamentary polls, a separate force of up to 5,000 men may be formed in addition to the main ANA, which numbers 10,000.
The "provisional ANA" would be made up of soldiers of mixed ethnicity who get less training than the main ANA, and would serve for two years before deciding whether to continue in the army or join civilian life.
The part-time force may be necessary as NATO countries hesitate to commit more troops to Afghanistan, which is threatened by an Islamic militant insurgency in the south and east and local warlords in the north and west.
NATO leads a 6,400-strong international peacekeeping force in Kabul and a small civilian-military team in the city of Kunduz. But it has yet to bolster forces in other regions, despite repeated calls from the Afghan government and U.S. officials.
The United States leads a separate force of 20,000 troops hunting remnants of the ousted Taliban regime and al Qaeda.
The official said the ANA would number 15,000 by elections, the police 30,000 and the "provisional ANA" 5,000.
He said U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad had succeeded in convincing three powerful commanders to join the disarmament process after months of procrastination, although the agreement only concerned giving in lists of their respective militias.
They included Ustad Atta Mohammad based in the north and, more importantly, Ismail Khan from Herat in the west.
He said both men agreed to join the disarmament programme, and the main outstanding obstacle was Abdul Rabb Rasoul Sayyaf, a commander based in and around Kabul.
The official said the Americans had not used threats to get their way with the commanders, who were instrumental in helping the United States defeat the Taliban late in 2001.
There is no indication the Afghan government, peacekeepers or U.S. troops have any intention of using force to disarm militias, but the official said that if they continued to fund armies from their own pocket it would be a "different scenario".
He added that the next few months would be "tough".
"We're doing things that otherwise would take decades to do," said the official, referring to building an army, disarming commanders, holding elections and eradicating drugs.
"Whether in retrospect we should have given more time for these things; some people say we should have given, instead of two years, five years, or three years."
Bitter critic who has become crucial in rebuilding the country
Daily Telegraph (London)- By Ahmed Rashid - 25/05/2004
Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian United Nations envoy charged with sorting out Iraq, has remarkably few friends in Washington or Iraq.
He is loathed by neo-conservatives on Capitol Hill who resent a United Nations man taking over their war. Their allies in Israel are livid at his vitriolic criticism of Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. Members of the Iraqi Governing Council, which will cease to exist on June 30, fear that he will leave them jobless in the new set-up. For Sunni Iraqis, he is a reminder of the suffering caused by UN sanctions under Saddam. Osama bin Laden has predictably called for his death, accusing him and the UN of being American lackeys.
Yet he was the only contender for the job.
He performed a similar role in Afghanistan, and while that country is far from an unqualified success, last December when he bade farewell after two years as special representative the warlords begged him not to go.
Born in 1934 in Algeria, Mr Brahimi started out as a revolutionary, helping to shake off French colonialism before becoming Algeria's ambassador to Egypt, Sudan and, later, the Arab League.
As the league's special envoy to Lebanon in 1989 he helped to mediate the end of that country's civil war. The UN sent him to other conflicts around the world. In 1997, he attempted to end the Taliban-instigated civil war in Afghanistan but resigned in noisy protest in 1999.
He blamed the Afghan factions, Pakistan for supporting the Taliban and the Clinton administration for not getting involved sufficiently.
Last month he criticised the American siege of Fallujah and Washington's support for Israel. "The great poison in the region is this Israeli policy of domination and the suffering imposed on the Palestinians, as well as the perception of all of the population of the region and beyond of the injustice of this policy and the equally unjust support of the US for this policy," he told French radio.
For Mr Brahimi, such comments are not simply off-the-cuff emotion but part of his ability to make his own task easier. They were designed to win the trust of Iraqis and the Muslim world, whose support he now needs.
According to UN diplomats, Tony Blair was crucial to his elevation to the Iraq job. After September 11 Mr Blair, a long-standing admirer, was the first to persuade George Bush to send him to Kabul.
UN diplomats say the Prime Minister played the same role last November when the US began to flounder in Iraq. But Mr Brahimi played tough. In Afghanistan he refused to allow the UN to get involved until Washington had ceded authority.
In Iraq he is demanding the same - that a sovereign government be given power so that the UN does not become the footstool for a continued US occupation.
Mr Brahimi's contribution in Afghanistan was to meld the demands of the major players - the US forces, the international peace-keepers, the fledgling government, the warlords and humanitarian agencies.
Trying to achieve the same formula in Baghdad is going to be infinitely more difficult, and US diplomats admit that the neo-conservatives back in Washington could soon start gunning for him.
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