An Interview with Afghan Diplomat Naveed Noormal about Erik Prince’s Proposal for Privatisation of War in Afghanistan, after his counter with Erik on the Head to Head Talk show in Oxford
Interviewer: Mariam Amini
- Why does Afghanistan’s firmly reject the plan that Erik Prince is proposing to the Trump administration?
The plan is not only rejected by Afghanistan, but also many international partners including some key figures in the US. Former Secretary James Mattis said “When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing is probably not a wise idea”. To address your question, I will respond to it with three points. First, the core objective of US forces and NATO in Afghanistan is to fight terrorism, help Afghanistan to build a sovereign and democratic state, and avoid further destruction. Afghans are tired of war and seeking ways possible to bring about an inclusive peace. Now that Afghanistan is going through an important phase of peace process and that the opportunity is shaping to have a politically negotiated settlement, a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan is undermining the peace efforts and will deter the parties to respond to the peace negotiations. Second, Afghanistan has a capable security forces, which has been fighting more than 20 international terrorist groups. Our security forces are in the frontline of fight against terrorism and have the potential to save the country, therefore, a plan to privatize war will also undermine the long time investment in our able security forces. Third, privatization of war means a business of destruction. There is no justification to convince the people and government of Afghanistan that a private company, making money out of this business, will ever want to put a full stop to this war. Let’s also remember the examples of privatization in Iraq, and the grievances it has brought to the people of that country.
- Do you think Afghanistan’s position would change if a new president is elected? Eric Prince hinted that things would be different if President Ghani is no longer in office.
This a matter of national interest for Afghanistan. My calculation is that whoever takes over the office will have to walk along people’s demand and for the national interests of the country. The current government under President Ghani has clearly, on many occasions, rejected the plan and any President in the future will also pursue the will of people and that of national interests. Many key politicians including former President Karzai and running candidates for the upcoming elections have rejected the plan. Let’s remind ourselves that the plan to privatize war in Afghanistan is not for the interest of anyone including our international partners. The people of Afghanistan has sacrificed for many years to get to the stage they are now, and do not want their efforts to go in vain.
- What do you think of Prince’s comment that if President Ghani does not change his security plan, ‘he would end up like Najib’?
Afghanistan has an elected government, with strong political, military and administrative institutions. Time has changed, and so the dynamics. “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Such comments are not only insult to the people and government of Afghanistan and to the sacrifices we have made, but also to the efforts of our international partners and allies that has supported us in the past 18 years. Afghanistan is not alone in this fight, we have strong support and ties with our international partners and the world has watched us going though this journey of peace and democracy. Our shared goal at the international platform is to defeating transnational terrorism. Therefore, instead of prolonging the war and destruction, let’s hold accountable any state that sponsors terror in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world.
- Why does Prince’s proposed plan matter if the Afghan government strongly opposes it just like senior generals and advisors to the Pentagon?
Afghans are the victim of war. Any initiative with regard to peace or fighting against terrorism must lie in the hands of Afghans. Nations do have national interests, sometimes they differ from other countries and sometimes they are compatible. In the contemporary globalized world, countries need each other to survive, as do people. Therefore, it is always good to talk about issues than leaving them untouched. Afghanistan also, as a responsible government, is cautious and aware of the situation. Hence it’s for all of us not to allow any negligent proposal or plan about Afghanistan without our voices being heard. We deserve to be present and engaged in any decisions that relates to the future of our nation and our country.
This interview as initially conducted for Afghan Herald.