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Monday, December 17, 2007

Allies losing Afghanistan war, Australian minister warns: report

December 16, 2007SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia's new government has warned NATO and its allies they will lose the war against hardline Taliban forces in Afghanistan unless they urgently change tactics, a report said Monday.The country's new Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon issued the stark warning at a meeting in Edinburgh last week of eight nations engaged in the conflict, including the United States, The Australian newspaper said.The coalition of NATO and allied forces engaged in the conflict since 2001 must overhaul military and civil programmes aimed at fostering stability in the troubled country if they are to win the conflict, he cautioned.The minister's comments to the closed-door gathering were based on classified intelligence assessments prepared for the previous Australian government of John Howard which painted a bleak picture of the Afghan conflict."The previous government would have us believe that good progress is being made in Afghanistan. The reality is quite a different one," Fitzgibbon told The Australian after returning from the meeting in Britain."We are winning the battles and not the war, in my view. We have been very successful in clearing areas of the Taliban but it's having no real strategic effect," he said.Fitzgibbon also told the meeting in Edinburgh, attended by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, that while NATO and its allies had been successfully "stomping on lots of ants, we have not been dealing with the ants' nest".


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