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Desperate bid by Bush to rally support for Afghan war

Issue No. 2123

George Bush is planning a “surge” of 10,000 US troops to Afghanistan in a desperate effort to turn the tide of defeat there.

The change in strategy comes after warnings from commanders on the ground that the resistance is gaining in strength.

One US source in the defence department told the Times newspaper that Bush wants to “secure his legacy” before he leaves office.

According to Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, “It’s the full spectrum – the political piece, the diplomatic piece, the economic piece in addition to the security piece – that has got to improve dramatically.”

The US is hoping to draw the Taliban away from Al Qaida to pacify the resistance. They are to make local deals with sections of the resistance and rebrand them as “tribal militias”.

They hope this will buy time for Nato to strengthen the Afghan army.

This shift comes as Nato troops are reported to have abandoned areas in north east Afghanistan last week following an offensive by insurgents.

This retreat coincides with a bloody offensive by Pakistani troops to “pacify” the tribal areas along its border with Afghanistan. Hundreds of people there are reported to have been killed with many thousands displaced.

The US and its allies hope that the offensive in Pakistan will split the insurgency and allow the war to be declared as a victorious fight against Al Qaida.

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Tue 14 Oct 2008, 18:24 BST
Issue No. 2123
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