Karzai welcomes new US strategy

Afghan president calls planned deployment "better than expected" amid fresh violence.

    Thousands more US troops have been ordered to Afghanistan by President Obama [GALLO/GETTY]

    Speaking about government peace initiatives, Karzai asked that the names of Taliban members without links to al-Qaeda be removed from a UN blacklist.

    He said the move would help create "the right environment" for a peace process between the Afghan government and so-called moderate Taliban elements.

    "In the right environment means ... looking at the list that is with the United Nations and removing the names that are not part of al-Qaeda, that are not part of [the] terrorist network ... and the help of the countries who have an important role in this regard must be asked for," Karzai said.

    More violence

    Afghanistan has seen rising violence in recent years as Taliban forces - ousted from power by a US-led invasion in 2001 - reorganise and launch attacks from the border region with Pakistan.

    In the latest round of violence, Afghan and US forces killed 12 suspected fighters during a raid on a compound in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, according to the US military.

    In video

    US boot camp for new Afghan security force

    The US military said in a statement on Saturday that the fighters tried to use women and children as shields during the battle, and that one child was injured.

    "Afghan and coalition forces killed 12 militants Friday night during a raid of a militant location to further degrade bomb-making and facilitation networks in northern Helmand province," the statement said.

    In a separate incident, two soldiers of the US-led multinational force in Afghanistan were shot dead by a member of the Afghan army in a separate incident, a US military statement said.

    The Afghan soldier reportedly killed himself following the incident.

    US strategy

    The US has about 38,000 troops in Afghanistan, in addition to the 17,000 US forces Obama ordered to be deployed in February and around 42,000 Nato troops.

    The Obama administration's new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan includes proposals to counter a persistent Taliban and al-Qaeda campaign that spans the two countries' shared border, and additional development aid for both nations.

    Obama said the strategy was essential because intelligence indicated al-Qaeda was "actively planning attacks" on the US from Pakistan.

    "This is not simply an American problem, it's an international security problem of the highest order"

    Barack Obama, the US president

    "This is not simply an American problem, it's an international security problem of the highest order," he said on Friday.

    "If the Afghanistan government falls to the Taliban or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for terrorists.''

    The Taliban compared the new US strategy to that of Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, in the lead-up to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    "Obama is repeating the mistakes of Gorbachev," the Taliban told Al Jazeera in a statement on Friday.

    "If more troops are going to win the war [in Afghanistan], the Russians would already have done so."

    The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan lasted from December 1979 to February 1989, during which the country's security forces lost more than 14,000 personnel but failed to prevent the defeat of its leftist allies at the hands of the US-backed mujahidin opposition.

    James Jones, the US national security adviser, was quick to dismiss the Talbian's comments, saying that the government was not committing to "a military strategy alone".

    "We are trying to bring a certain level of sufficiency in terms of security, But what will change is ... the economic impetus that will come in on top of that," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies.


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Curate an art exhibition and survive Thailand's censorship crackdown in this interactive game.