KABUL:A former Afghan intelligence chief who opposed plans to talk to insurgents has said, The United States had succeeded in establishing a government in Afghanistan but failed in crushing the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Amrullah Saleh quit as President Hamid Karzai’s intelligence chief in June after disagreeing with Karzai over negotiating with the Taliban, a plan that this year has involved preliminary contacts with the insurgents but which Saleh labelled a disgrace.
US and NATO commanders have been talking up military successes since the last of an extra 30,000 US troops, ordered last December by President Barack Obama, arrived over the summer and operations against insurgents were increased.
But violence is at its worst across Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, with military and civilian casualties at record levels despite the presence of 150,000 foreign troops.
“Americans had come to Afghanistan for three specific aims — defeating al Qaeda and annihilating the Taliban … and thirdly to help Afghans to create a powerful government,” Saleh told Afghanistan’s Tolo television in an interview aired on Tuesday.
“Al Qaeda is not crushed and the Taliban have turned again into a strategic threat,” he told the private station.
Western attention has focused on the process of withdrawing foreign forces after NATO leaders agreed in Lisbon last month that combat operations by NATO-led troops should end by 2014.
Obama is determined that U.S. troops will begin leaving by July 2011. Many analysts and observers say the increasingly unpopular war has gone badly for Washington, while European leaders are also under growing pressure to bring troops home.
With pressure growing for foreign forces to leave, attention has turned to the readiness of Afghan security forces to take over. Training, equipment and retention rates are major problems, leading some commanders to warn that Afghan forces are unlikely to be ready in time.
Western officials have long complained of endemic corruption in Karzai’s government, which they say weakens the state and stunts the growth of institutions like the armed forces, and it has long been a source of friction between Karzai and his Western allies.
Saleh, however, defended Karzai, saying sidelining him would be a mistake and would serve the interests of neither Afghans nor Americans. He should instead be strengthened, Saleh said.
Karzai has more recently come under fire in leaked US embassy cables, obtained by WikiLeaks, in which he was described as weak.