The Bush Administration's strategic approach in Central Asia has come under criticism from regional experts. At a recent conference in Washington, DC, some scholars said the US unilateralist approach was fueling the great power rivalry in Central Asia.
The US-led war against terrorism and subsequent reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan have failed to stem the flow of narcotics out of the country. A new United Nations report finds that trafficking in Afghanistan surged in 2002. At the same time, neighboring Central Asian states are expressing alarm about growing security risks from drug addiction and skyrocketing HIV/AIDS cases.
While Afghanistan's transitional government confronts the challenge of building an economy, the country's main export is resurging. That export, illicit opium, had an off year in 2001, but analysts at the United Nations expect to see Afghanistan produce as much heroin in 2002 as it did in the mid-1990s.
As reports surface of American-led soldiers hunting al Qaeda holdouts in Pakistan, the United Nations Security Council has heard a warning that citizens in Afghanistan may face starvation by the end of May.
The United Nations Security Council strengthened the UN civilian presence in Afghanistan by establishing a new mission to focus on political and humanitarian issues. But the resolution the Security Council passed March 28 does not address security in Afghanistan, confirming that the Security Council is unwilling to expand the UN international peacekeeping force.
Despite a hero's reception at US President George W. Bush's State of the Union address, interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai finished his most recent trip to the United States without key assurances on international peacekeeping in his tattered nation.
While veteran Pashtun warrior Hamid Karzai prepares to take over the new interim Afghan government on December 22, the United Nations Security Council is hurrying to police that transition. Staff and diplomats are racing to confer final approval on a multinational peacekeeping force that the UN hopes will be in Kabul, at least partially, by the time the new administration takes office.