Afghani war – eight years, zero result?
The American president, who is currently leading a series of consultations with US officials, has ruled out the possibility of Afghanistan war to be shrunk into a counterterrorism campaign.
“We are not leaving Afghanistan. This discussion is about the next steps forward. And the president has some momentous decisions to make. And while there may be some short-term uncertainty on the part of our allies in terms of those next steps, there should be no uncertainty in terms of our determination to remain in Afghanistan and to continue to build a relationship of partnership and trust with the Pakistanis,” said US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
However, Obama has not yet indicated whether or not more troops will be sent to the war zone. The US president says he is searching for the middle ground.
"The president is going to make a decision, popular or unpopular, based on what he thinks is in the best interests of the country," said the White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Many US officials are not concealing their dissatisfaction with how the operation in Afghanistan is developing.
Obama's chief military commander General Stanley McChrystal, has demanded a sixty per cent surge in troop numbers. Otherwise, he says the war might well be lost for the US.
Although Republicans are also pushing the president to send in more soldiers immediately, his fellow Democrats say the decision should not be rushed into.
August brought the highest number of losses so far for the States, with 51 people killed. The overall war death toll has already reached 791 people. By Christmas, the number of US troops in Afghanistan will reach 68,000.
The war in Afghanistan has already cost US taxpayers US $228 billion. Of this US $60.8 billion has been spent in 2009.
Next March, US expenses for wars both in Afghanistan and Iraq will have reached $1 trillion.
Some polls suggest public support for the mission in Afghanistan has dropped to 40%, an all time low.
On the eve of the 8th anniversary of NATO’s entry into Afghanistan, some 42 rallies were held around the US, with protesters saying the war is too expensive in both money and lives, and calling for a new focus on issues at home.
Call to leave
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the Taliban called on the coalition forces to leave the country in order to avoid a dragged-out war, Itar-Tass says.
The Taliban said that the Afghan people “were always ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their country and Islam,” adding that the Taliban “have no intention of attacking Europe and their only goal is to free their country and create an Islamic state.”
The International Council on Security and Development has recently announced that despite all NATO efforts in Afghanistan, Taliban militants are present across 80 per cent of the country.
Head of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev believes that increasing the US presence in Afghanistan won’t make fighting international terrorism more effective.
He added that it is necessary to develop a really effective means of fighting terrorism, and first of all getting credible information about the international terrorism network – which is the work of intelligence – and the elimination of international terrorism structures, which is the work of special units.
“The work of both intelligence and special units doesn’t depend on increasing the numbers but on using the professionalism of these people,” Patrushev said according to the Ria Novosti news agency.
And according to NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen, who was speaking at a news conference in Brussels, Russia could increase its involvement in the US-led campaign in Afghanistan.
“Russia has already provided transit through Russia. I think, this transit agreement could be expanded – that’s one thing. Next, Russia could provide equipment for the Afghan security forces, and thirdly, Russia could provide training,” Rasmussen said.
He added that Moscow has given the impression that it’s interested in becoming more involved in the war.
Rasmussen admitted there are still a number of areas in which NATO and Russia disagree, but the two sides should expand their co-operation on issues they do agree on, including Afghanistan.
Rasmussen also vowed NATO would not withdraw from Afghanistan until its troops are no longer needed there.