US Afghan surge is working: UN envoy
Washington: The US-led surge of troops in
Afghanistan is proving successful with the Taliban on the defensive despite persistent bloodshed, the United Nations envoy to the country has said.
The assessment by Staffan de Mistura, the UN special representative in Kabul, contrasts with weariness among the
public in the United States about the country`s longest war
which will reach the 10-year mark later this year.
General David Petraeus leads about 100,000 US troops in
Afghanistan, part of a strategy laid out in December 2009 by
President Barack Obama to scale up the war launched after the
September 11, 2001 attacks.
"The fact is that the surge by General Petraeus... is
working," de Mistura said at the Middle East Institute, a
De Mistura, a friend of Petraeus since they served
together in Iraq, acknowledged that violence in Afghanistan
"looks very bad." But he said the Taliban were attacking away
from areas where they were under pressure -- and alienating
Afghans through indiscriminate killings.
"These are mistakes produced by the feeling that there is
a need to produce a counter-narrative to the reversal of the
momentum" of the Taliban, de Mistura said.
De Mistura said it would be critical to see if the
Taliban are able to regroup with the arrival of spring and
launch an offensive.
But it is even more important to make progress this year
on negotiating a political solution, he said.
"The military aspect alone cannot be an indicator of any
sustainable success because we have all agreed -- everyone,
and in my opinion, even the Talibans have agreed with
themselves -- that there is no military victory in
Afghanistan," he said.
Obama hopes to start reducing troop numbers in July and
to withdraw most US forces by the end of 2014.
In a boost for the plan, President Hamid Karzai said
yesterday that Afghan forces would take over security this
summer from NATO in areas including Helmand, a southern
province where violence has dropped sharply.
Polls have shown that most Americans believe that the
Afghan campaign is going badly, although the pessimism has
waned slightly in the past year.
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