Related News

Home » World

Afghans welcome more US troops

AFGHAN officials have welcomed Barack Obama's decision to send 17,000 more soldiers to fight a Taliban-led insurgency in Kabul but ordinary people feared more troops would mean more attacks.

In his first major military decision since taking office in January, the United States president on Tuesday agreed to the deployment "to stabilise a deteriorating situation" in Afghanistan.

"It's a positive move," Afghan defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Is'haq Payman said.

"But we have our own conditions. We want these troops to be deployed in areas where they could play a positive role in suppressing terrorists," he said. "We want them to be deployed along the border, in eastern, southeastern and southern parts of the country."

Many of the attacks in Afghanistan are carried out by militants holed up in tribal zones, infiltrating the porous 2,400-kilometer, largely mountainous border.

Payman said that the US reinforcements would also allow growing Afghan security forces to concentrate on vital training instead of fighting the insurgency, which started after the Taliban was ousted from power in late 2001.

There are already about 70,000 NATO and US-led soldiers in Afghanistan helping to fight insurgents, and train and equip the Afghan security forces, destroyed by the civil war of the 1990s.

About 38,000 are US troops.

The top US military commander in Kabul, General David McKiernan, had asked for 30,000 more soldiers for the fight against an insurgency that has mounted in the seven years since the extremist regime was toppled. His requests were still being considered as were the details of the deployment of the US reinforcements, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

The White House has said that the extra soldiers would be deployed ahead of presidential and provincial council elections scheduled for August 20.

Their presence was vital for the vote, said foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen.

Weak security in the south, where the insurgency is most intense, has sparked fears that the election could be jeopardized.

"These additional troops can help improve security in the country so our people vote freely," Baheen said.

Prominent politician Shukria Barakzai also said that the reinforcements should be sent to the border with Pakistan to stop militant infiltrations.

But security depends on more than just military efforts, she said, citing the need to improve development in impoverished Afghanistan and diplomatic efforts to persuade the Taliban to lay down their arms.

"Military force alone is not enough," Barakzai said.

"If these troops come without coordinating their efforts with development and diplomacy, the situation would not change." On the streets of Kabul, residents were wary of the planned new US arrivals, fearing that they would only worsen security.

Foreign forces are the target of regular insurgent suicide bombings which kill more civilians than troops, while a spike in attacks has led to major security measures that have sealed off entire blocks of the city.

"The explosions in Kabul are because of the NATO presence here," said university student Khalid Sherzai.

"More troops will mean more roads will be closed. They should leave it for the Afghans and see what happens."

"Security will deteriorate even further," said another resident, Najibullah Hotak.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend