October 12, 2009

Eide and UNAMA

Is everyone else similarly enjoying Londonstani's posts from Pakistan? Who knew we would see the day when this blog had a foreign correspondent? I, meanwhile, am in the safety of the Stanford bookstore reading the Financial Times, and there is an article on how Kai Eide is hitting back at some of the claims made by his one-time friend and deputy Peter Galbraith.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) had enough problems before the election. Its reputation was that of the "empty chair" in Kabul -- the one organization whose absence could be counted upon whenever there was an important policy meeting. That said, UNAMA also had the reputation as possessing some of the very best political intelligence in Afghanistan, making its absence from discussions -- caused in large part by its small size and understandable desire to not be seen as endorsing U.S. or allied policy in Afghanistan -- all the more regretful.

Now, however, I worry UNAMA's reputation in Afghanistan is shot. Not just among the Afghans but among some of the donor and troop-contributing nations. Yes, I know the French, U.K. and U.S. abmbassadors appeared by Kai Eide's side expressing support yesterday, but the knives are also out, with many in Kabul expressing frustration with Eide personally. I wonder how much longer he can survive (politically, of course) in Kabul before he is recalled for the best welfare of the mission?

The good news is that I think the United Nations is already grooming Eide's successor. (So canny, the UN. Legolas is exactly who Afghanistan needs.)