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Cablegate: Possible Un Envoy Ashdown Threatened in Afghan Newspaper

VZCZCXRO7396
OO RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0104 0090212
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090212Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2331
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4347
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUHEHMS/COMUSMARCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 000104

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/A, SCA/PPD, S/CRS, S/CT, EUR/RPM, INL/CIVPOL,
INR/R/MR, STATE FOR NSC WOOD, OSD FOR SHIVERS, CENTCOM FOR CSTC-A,
CG CJTF-82, POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL AF

SUBJECT: POSSIBLE UN ENVOY ASHDOWN THREATENED IN AFGHAN NEWSPAPER
COLUMN

1) SUMMARY: A recent column in a major Kabul daily compared possible
UN Special Representative to Afghanistan Lord Paddy Ashdown to
William Macnaghten, the British envoy to Kabul murdered in 1841,
during the First Anglo-Afghan War. The column, which detailed
British double-dealing in Afghanistan since then, called for
Afghanistan to produce a new Wazir Akhbar Khan, the Afghan leader
responsible for murdering Macnaghten and hanging his headless body
before the Kabul bazaar. END SUMMARY.

2) A December 30, 2007 newspaper column in major opposition daily
newspaper "Arman-e-Millie" entitled "William Hay Macnaghten is
Coming, Wazir Akhbar Khan Should" reviews British policy in
Afghanistan since the First Anglo Afghan War of 1839-42. Taking a
deeply negative view of British machinations in Afghanistan
culminating with a February, 2007 deal between British forces and
tribal elders in Musa Qala, Helmand Province that enabled the
Taliban to capture that district, the author opined that Ashdown's
tenure would further hinder Afghan progress.

3) Arman-e-Millie is owned by Mir Haider Mutaher, a close associate
of Marshall Fahim, a central figure in the opposition United Front.
The newspaper is sympathetic to, but not officially affiliated with,
the United Front. Media sources assert that Fahim funds the
newspaper.

4) "The appointment of Mr. Ashdown as the UN Special Representative
is finalized," wrote the author. "Now the question raised among
Afghan people is, with the appointment of a British diplomat with
such a background, and considering what the British have done in
Afghanistan in the past, what impact will his appointment have on
developments in Afghanistan?"

5) While some Afghans express a distrust of British motives given
their long history of "Great Game" plotting and invasion, and some
minor political factions have expressed displeasure with Ashdown's
candidacy, the strident tone of the columnist and the significant
stature of the outlet are notable. More notable still is the
juxtaposition of Ashdown with the brutally butchered Macnaghten. The
columnist concluded, "The arrival of Lord Ashdown ... would not be a
good message for the critical year 2008. Moreover, it shows the
ineffectiveness of GOA officials in not being able to raise their
demands to the international community, especially the United
States. Nevertheless, Macnaghten is returning and the people of
[Afghanistan] are dead."


WOOD

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