|By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, December 08, 2001 - 9:40 am: Edit Post|
Read the article from the Omaha World-Herald on RPCV Thomas Gouttierre and his ties to several people who have been named at serve on Afghanistan's interim cabinet at:
UNO experts applaud new Afghan Cabinet
UNO experts applaud new Afghan Cabinet
BY STEPHEN BUTTRY
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Afghan leaders meeting in Germany selected an interim Cabinet with Omaha ties, including a chairman who visited here in 1999.
Hamid Karzai, the Pashtun tribal leader chosen to head the provisional government, visited the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1999 and was instrumental in selecting participants for a UNO conference to discuss a post-Taliban government.
"I can't think of a better guy right now to be the head of this," said Thomas Gouttierre, director of UNO's Center for Afghanistan Studies. He said he considers Karzai "among my very closest Afghan friends."
Karzai is leading Pashtun forces fighting the Taliban near Kandahar.
His Cabinet will take over power in Afghanistan from the triumphant Northern Alliance on Dec. 22. The deal also asks the United Nations to authorize an international force to provide security in the capital, Kabul, and eventually other areas.
Afghan leaders applauded and embraced Wednesday as they signed the pact creating the temporary administration for their war-ravaged nation.
The choosing of a post-Taliban government to lead Afghanistan for the next six months was the result of nine days of furious negotiating and enormous international pressure on the Northern Alliance and three other Afghan factions meeting near Bonn.
The administration will govern for six months, when the former king will convene a traditional national assembly, or loya jirga. The loya jirga will choose a transitional government, paving the way for elections within two years.
UNO experts cautioned that the process ahead will be difficult, but they applauded the Cabinet selections.
"There are no extremists here," said Peter Tomsen, ambassador in residence at UNO and former U.S. special envoy to the Afghan rebels. "These are all moderate Afghans."
The Cabinet includes members of all four major ethnic groups, none of which is a majority of the population. Karzai is a Pashtun, the largest ethnic group. The Northern Alliance is mostly Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. Alliance leaders will hold key ministries such as defense and foreign affairs.
The Hazaras, the only group that is primarily Shiite Muslim, frequently complain of being overlooked in Afghan coalitions. Four ministers, including two vice chairmen, are Hazara.
Gouttierre was especially excited about the selection of Karzai. "He's a very sophisticated, well-educated individual who has a truly world view," he said.
Karzai's leadership will help the government avoid ethnic squabbling, Gouttierre said.
"I think he's an Afghan first, without question," he said. "He is able to see the Pashtun as part of a larger nation. ... He understands the need to try to be inclusive."
Tomsen said the Cabinet will make it hard for Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former president who heads the Northern Alliance and now controls the capital, to cling to power.
Gouttierre was encouraged that Northern Alliance negotiators in Bonn took the "courageous step" of "bringing about a broader-based government than Rabbani might have wanted."
Karzai served as deputy foreign minister under Rabbani, but left the government in disgust as Afghanistan degenerated into the chaos that gave birth to the Taliban.
"He's never been tainted by the corruption and brutality that characterized many of the mujahideen leaders," Tomsen said.
The former ambassador said the United States will play an important role in giving the interim government and an eventual permanent government a chance to succeed.
"Now American diplomacy has to give more attention to insulating the intra-Afghan peace process from outside interference," Tomsen said.
He said the United States and other powers must "not just promise assistance but move it rapidly into the country to support this fledgling regime and make it work."