and have their dignity and sovereignty. It is not Taliban alone who resist, against the American troops and Nato. All Afghan factions and more over relatives of civilian victims killed by US and Nato will fight till foreign troops withdraw . UN peace forces will be accepted alone.
USA Today 5/9/2006
Deadline to break Taliban: 6 months
By Paul Wiseman, USA TODAY
KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO's commander here has set a six-month deadline to reverse a Taliban insurgency terrorizing southern Afghanistan or risk alienating Afghans undecided about whom to support.
British army Lt. Gen. David Richards said his troops must prove to Afghans in the south that the fundamentalist Islamic militia won't be able to undermine the democratically elected Afghan government or stop efforts to rebuild the shattered country.
Only 10% of the south's population supports the Taliban, Richards said, citing Afghan government surveys. In an interview, he said 70% won't declare their loyalty until they "see which side will win. They can't wait forever. We've got to show them we will win."
Nearly five years after a U.S.-led campaign ousted the Taliban government that had sheltered al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Richards' troops have launched "Operation Medusa" in Panjwayi district in Kandahar province. The campaign aims to quell the Taliban's aggressive new offensive. NATO reported that more than 200 Taliban fighters were killed in the first two days of Medusa, which began Saturday.
The fighting also has brought NATO casualties. Monday, two U.S. warplanes mistakenly strafed NATO troops in Panjwayi district. A Canadian soldier was killed, NATO spokesman Maj. Scott Lundy said. A British soldier was killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, the British Defense Ministry said. More than 130 NATO and coalition troops have died this year, the Associated Press reported, more than in all of 2005.
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NATO took over responsibility for southern Afghanistan from the United States on July 31. As early as this month, NATO will take over for the U.S.-led multinational coalition in eastern Afghanistan.
Richards said NATO troops have proved they are willing to fight the Taliban and have dispelled doubts about their resolve: "We've killed hundreds and hundreds of Taliban since we took over, rather sadly."
Arsala Jamal, governor of Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, said he worries that NATO "will not be as effective as the Americans."
Barnett Rubin, senior fellow at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, said NATO is "walking up to a situation where they might fail" because the United States didn't invest enough troops and money to create stability and a non-opium-based economy. But he also said Richards' plan to target Taliban strongholds, counter Taliban propaganda and try to win over rural Afghans with jobs is more comprehensive than past efforts and might work.
Richards said his goal is to reduce insurgent attacks in the south from about 10 a day to the one or two a week in the more stable northern and central regions. He says bringing violence throughout Afghanistan down to "tolerable levels" will take three to five years.