Taliban to step up resistance
The Taliban vowed yesterday to step up resistance and fight against the extra 30,000 American troops US President Barack Obama has ordered to Afghanistan, a spokesman said.
"Obama will witness lots of coffins heading to America from Afghanistan," spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahamdi told AFP by telephone from an unknown location.
"Their hope to control Afghanistan by military means will not become reality. The extra 30,000 troops that will come to Afghanistan will provoke stronger resistance and fighting," he added.
"They will withdraw shamefully. They cannot achieve their hopes and goals," the spokesman said.
The statement said the Americans would face the same fate as Russian and British soldiers previously -- during the 19th century British invasion of Afghanistan and that by Soviet troops in the 1980s.
The Taliban were in power between 1996 and 2001 before they were ousted in a US-led attack that was backed by most members of the Nato alliance. Remnants of the Taliban have been leading an insurgency to regain power since then.
In Brussels, US allies are ready to send at least 5,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan after President Barack Obama's decision to begin a troop surge, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday.
Other Nato members and their partners "will send at least 5,000 soldiers to this operation, and possibly a few more thousand on top of it," Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels.
"I think you will see some pledges right now, and some at a later stage" once an international conference on Afghanistan is held in London in January, he said. "Then you will see a build-up of troops during 2010."
Obama said earlier Tuesday that he is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as he vowed to "seize the initiative" to end an unpopular war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda and start a pullout in July 2011.
Unveiling a fast-track strategy, he pledged for the first time that US forces would start coming home in 19 months, noting in a major speech that Nato's credibility was on the line.
With that in mind, Rasmussen urged Nato and its partners, more than 40 nations with over 70,000 troops in the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), to follow the US lead.
"This is not just America's war," he said. "What is happening in Afghanistan poses a clear and present danger to the citizens in all our countries."
"We must all do more," he said. "We must now demonstrate that multilateralism produces results."
Rasmussen also said he would recommend that Isaf begin handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces as soon as next year, as the international coalition labours to build the national army and police.
"I find it realistic to start the transition" in some areas, he said, adding it could concern "10 to 15 districts already next year" if conditions allow.
However he insisted that this transition, accompanied by Obama's commitment to start withdrawing troops in 2011, was not the beginning of the end.
"We are not speaking about an exit strategy, but a transition strategy," he said.
"Transition means that foreign troops will gradually be replaced by Afghan security forces, so it will not be a weakening of security," he said.
"It is not a run for the exit."