Embassy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in London, United Kingdom
The embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in London is the primary source of diplomatic communication between the two nations of Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, it is considered Afghan soil within the property of the embassy. It is the official workplace of Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, a position that is currently vacant. Any formal correspondence between the two countries will pass between their respective embassies. For instance, phone calls between the heads of state, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Hamid Karzai, would be coordinated through the embassies.
The British foreign minister, William Hague, and the Afghan foreign minister, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, are both in charge of the foreign policy of their respective nations. They are their nations' primary and most senior diplomat. The vast majority of dialog between the embassies will be from the foreign ministers, the embassy in London being the primary relay.
After the foreign ministers there is a long line of officials and foreign policy experts that make use of the embassies. There are several assistant ministers that specialize in certain regions. The United Kingdom's Minister for the Middle East would be the individual in most contact with the Afghan government and his or her equivalent in the Karzai Administration's government.
In addition to diplomatic ties between the two counties the embassy also handles anything required by Afghan citizens living in the UK, as well as providing information about Afghanistan to British citizens. For instance, British citizens seeking visas to visit Afghanistan can acquire those from the London embassy. Also, Afghan citizens visiting the United Kingdom that require assistance with translations, directions, or are caught up in legal troubles may gain assistance from the embassy (though not even the embassy and the Afghan government can protect an individual rightfully accused of committing a crime within the territories of the United Kingdom).
The relationship between the two nations has often been heavily influenced by the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan, with the United Kingdom often taking whatever side the United States takes due to their strong bilateral relations. This has resulted in the UK partaking in military action against Afghanistan in the early 2000's following the aftermath of the September 11 attacks against the United States. The United Kingdom contributed heavily to the coalition that toppled the Taliban, and currently still maintains a significant military presence in the country.
With the collapse of the Taliban and establishment of a constitutional republic in Afghanistan, the United Kingdom has shifted towards a friendlier relational stance. Afghanistan is more regarded as an ally and the troop presence an aid against rebels as opposed to the troop presence standing in opposition of the Afghan government.
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In line with these policy changes, the United Kingdom has contributed significantly to the reconstruction of and reinvestment in Afghanistan. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been donated and several British businesses have invested in Afghan infrastructure and commerce. The benefits for the United Kingdom include greater cooperation from the Afghan government in terms of intelligence and counter-terrorism; this helps keep the UK safe from terrorist attacks originating from Afghanistan or elsewhere in the Middle East. In addition, these ties allow the United Kingdom to influence surrounding nations that have ties with Afghanistan: Pakistan, Iran, and several other strategically important Middle Eastern nations. It also lays the foundation for strong economic ties in the future as Afghanistan's economy grows and security stabilizes. The further stabilization of the country is set to attract more and more investment in the infrastructure, budding economy, and abundant national resources, such as precious metals. The United Kingdom will likely benefit from these resources in the future as a result of efforts made in the past few years and actions planned in the near future.
The United Kingdom's military presence in Afghanistan is heavily governed by the policy of the United States, the requests of the United Nations, and the needs of the International Security Assistance Force, the collective international coalition that heads up anti-insurgency efforts. Also in consideration are other demands of the United Kingdom's military resources. For instance, the current war in Libya and the other potential hot spots in the Middle East may force the UK to relocate its military assets; this may necessitate the drawing down of UK troop levels in Afghanistan. Regardless, the United States has set goals to be out of Afghanistan by 2014, and it is likely that the United Kingdom will follow a similar timeline. At that point, the relations between the two countries are likely to alter somewhat as the military presence departs, but the rebuilding and investing will most likely continue well into the 21st century. As Afghanistan's stability and economy grows they will begin to transform the bilateral relationship from a one-way street, where the UK pours money and aid into Afghanistan, into a relationship that is more mutually beneficial for both countries. Afghanistan's future growth will also put them on more even footing with the United Kingdom, as their growing international trade and influence will allow them to put more pressure on the British government, and will perhaps make their embassy in the United Kingdom a slightly more powerful, influential building in the London skyline.
More Reading & Information...
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