After the August electoral impasse destroyed the partnership of Kai Eide and Peter Galbraith, the United Nations’ top diplomats in Afghanistan, it’s been unclear who wants to step into the morass that is the UN mission to Kabul. But Laura Rozen has some answers:
Word on the Hill and at European embassies today is that the top contender for the job and Washington’s first choice is veteran Swedish diplomat Staffan di Mistura, who has served as UN Special Representative of the Secretary General to Iraq since 2007, and previously as UN SRSG to Southern Lebanon, and head of the World Food Program in Italy, among other jobs. Among his other experience leading UN missions in post-conflict zones where the US has tens of thousands of boots on the ground, di Mistura also speaks half the languages of the NATO alliance, as well as Arabic.
“Di Mistura is the U.S. preference,” one Hill source says. “He was the SRSG in Iraq, he’s Swedish, before Iraq he was in [the World Food Program. Well known official."
It'll be interesting to see what di Mistura -- or whoever the next UN Afghanistan chief turns out to be -- thinks of a current NATO proposal to create a sort of chief civilian to coordinate the non-military end of NATO's mission. For instance:
[A]dministration officials and NATO allies are in discussion to determine if a mechanism can be created to bring greater coherence to the efforts of Afghan, U.S., allied and other civilian assistance to the Afghan people for development and governance — a sort of civilian counterpart to McChrystal’s command of all U.S. and NATO forces. The idea is not new, but the Obama administration has given it renewed emphasis, said a senior European diplomat, although the precise structure of that mechanism has yet to be determined. “This has been discussed entirely within the context of the strategic theme of turning responsibility over to the Afghans,” the diplomat said.
That person would necessarily work closely with the UN mission.
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