International

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Rafiq Maqbool/AP
Afghan police patrol near the wreckage of a car used by suicide bomber outside the main
U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Pakistani Taliban Factions Join Fight Against US Troops in Afghanistan

March 05, 2009 10:30 AM
by Kate Davey
Three rival Pakistani warlords have agreed to work together to fight the U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan planned for this spring.

Taliban Unites Against the United States

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According to The Guardian, three rival Pakistani Taliban groups have agreed to fight together against international troops in Afghanistan. The pact occurred after Mullah Omar, the cleric who leads the Afghan Taliban, called for all militants fighting in Pakistan to stop and come to Afghanistan to “liberate Afghanistan from the occupation forces.” The united group is calling itself Shura Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen, or Council of United Holy Warriors.

However, it seems unlikely that all factions of the Pakistani Taliban will heed the call. Earlier this week, Muslim cleric Sufi Muhammad, the head of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi group, gave the Pakistani government a March 15 deadline to fulfill its promise to establish sharia courts in the Swat Valley, a chaotic northwestern region of the country.

Background: President Obama agrees to send more troops to Afghanistan

The agreement among Taliban rivals comes two weeks after President Obama approved a request from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to deploy more forces in Afghanistan, stating that “the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action.”

According to the Department of Defense, “two additional combat units, totaling more than 12,000 troops” will begin deploying to Afghanistan in the spring, with an additional 5,000 troops expected to receive deployment orders at a later date.

Opinion: American reactions to troop surges in Afghanistan, Iraq

According to a recent national poll conducted by CNN and the Opinion Research Corp, 63 percent of Americans polled support President Obama’s plan to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

A year after the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq, the American media has been divided on its success. David Ignatius of The Washington Post took a favorable view to the condition in which Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of coalition forces, left Iraq: “He restored confidence and purpose for a military that had begun to think, deep down, that this war was unwinnable and unsustainable.” Iraq now has a “chance,” according to Ignatius; he and President Bush “didn’t win in Iraq, but they created the possibility of an honorable exit.”

The Financial Times asserted the surge cannot be given sole credit for gains in Iraq, because during Petraeus’ stint, “[e]thnosectarian cleaning was largely completed,” Moqtada al-Sadr’s Shia militia halted its violent activities, Sunni tribes went on the offensive against al-Qaida and Iran has helped the peace effort, including organizing a ceasefire earlier in the year.  Furthermore, the newspaper claims that much instability remains: “the surge was meant to create the space for political reconciliation, a new national compact and the rebuilding of Iraq. That, quite simply, has not happened.”

Reference: Conflict in Afghanistan

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