WASHINGTON: United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James F Dobbins will be stepping down from his post and will be succeeded by his deputy Daniel F Feldman.
Dobbins, who was appointed as the special envoy on May 10, 2013, will be leaving the US government this month following a turbulent year in which the Obama administration planned on withdrawing forces from Afghanistan but was unable to owing to efforts for peace talks with the Taliban, the New York Times reported.
Despite initial hopes for a smooth political transition, Afghanistan seemingly descends into a political crisis with presidential hopeful Dr Abdullah Abdullah alleging vote fraud in the run-off vote, delaying the signing of an agreement that would establish a legal basis for American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014.
“I think this election impasse at the moment is serious and could present a real danger of a division in the country,” Dobbins said. “It is not unusual for countries at this level of development. They don’t tend to have a tradition of good losers.”
However, Dobbins asserted that the religious, linguistic and ethnic tensions in Afghanistan are not as sharp as the ones that threaten to split Iraq, thus, making the country “better positioned” to deal with its political crisis.
“But wending our way through this and getting a clear result that everybody acknowledges is legitimate and acceptable is the proximate and probably most important variable for Afghanistan’s future,” said Dobbins, adding that he was “hopeful that it will be brought to a conclusion in the next few weeks.”
In the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Dobbins was appointed as Bush administration's first special envoy for Afghanistan.
He has also served as special envoy for Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo during the Clinton administration.
Dobbins, tasked with putting together and installing a broadly based successor to the Taliban regime, represented the US at the Bonn Conference that established the new Afghan government of Karzai.
Before leaving the State Department for the Rand Corporation, Dobbins had no intention of returning to government until US Secretary of State John Kerry called him last year to ask him to fill the special envoy post, and he agreed to do it for a year.
“I was just weeks into my time as secretary when Bill Burns, Tom Donilon, and I sat down with the president to think about the right person to lead this effort during what we knew would be a year of big decisions for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Kerry said in a statement, referring to William J Burns, the deputy secretary of state, and Thomas Donlion, Obama’s former national security adviser.
“We quickly decided that Jim Dobbins was the right person if we could lure him out of retirement.”
During the early days of the Obama administration the office held by Dobbins was run by Richard C Holbrooke and was a bureaucratic power.
The office is known as SRAP - the office of the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan - and according to former officials the office’s role has changed over time.
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