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New US Afghanistan Strategy to Target Al-Qaeda

Posted October. 10, 2009 07:50,   


U.S. President Barack Obama’s new strategy on Afghanistan will target al-Qaeda, not the Taliban.

The decision reportedly came after he held discussions with top U.S. military commanders, Democratic and Republican leaders, and members of his diplomatic and national security team in the wake of a troop request by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Obama is expected to focus on keeping al-Qaeda at bay and reduce the emphasis on the Taliban, while approving limited troop reinforcement.

The Associated Press yesterday quoted a senior U.S. official as saying Obama’s diplomatic team is planning a strategy focusing on fighting al-Qaeda above all other goals.

According to the official, however, the strategy will not tolerate the Taliban’s return to power while preventing Afghanistan from becoming a renewed sanctuary for al-Qaeda.

The Obama administration has reportedly recognized that the Taliban is too ingrained in Afghan culture to be entirely defeated, and is prepared to accept a Taliban role in parts of Afghanistan.

The precondition is that the Taliban must renounce violence to participate in the central government.

The strategy is seen as the president’s will to avoid a long-term war of attrition in Afghanistan, where both the British Empire and the Soviet Union failed in the past.

Over the past eight years, the U.S. has suffered more than 870 casualties in Afghanistan. If Washington excludes a full-fledged war on the Taliban from its Afghanistan strategy, it can focus on attacking al-Qaeda’s hideouts in Pakistan by using U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

American conservatives including Senator John McCain of the Republican Party oppose the plan, however. They say tolerating the Taliban will be the same as letting al-Qaeda expand its influence.

President Obama is expected to announce his strategy on Afghanistan in mid-October.