12/02/2009, 00.00
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Obama has decided: 30 thousand more troops in Afghanistan

They will be deployed by summer 2010. Withdrawal also set for 2011. NATO requested for 5 thousand soldiers more. The budget for military spending rises to 30 billion dollars. Veiled accusations of corruption for Karzai. AsiaNews sources sceptical about the effectiveness of the increased military presence.

West Point (AsiaNews / Agencies) - U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the dispatch of another 30 thousand troops to Afghanistan by summer 2010 and says that the U.S. will begin withdrawal from the country by 2011. In his speech at the Military Academy at West Point, broadcast live on television, Obama said that the purpose of this new deployment of forces will be used to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan to secure the city and to prepare local security forces before the US withdrawal.

The decision was taken after three months of hesitation and revisions and will bring the U.S. forces in Afghanistan to about 100 thousand. Beyond the U.S., there are troops from a further 43 nations and a NATO force of 32 thousand soldiers. Obama said he hoped that NATO would increase the number of soldiers by at least another 5 thousand units.

Obama took time over the decision.  General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. commander in Afghanistan had been asking for some time to send 40 thousand troops. The increase in violence against U.S. troops, allegations of corruption in the Karzai government and the economic crisis pushed public opinion for a withdrawal of troops as soon as possible to avoid falling into "another Vietnam". This year, the Obama administration has already requested no less than 65 billion dollars for Afghanistan; sending new troops would cost an increase of 30 billion dollars.

The government of Karzai has welcomed the decision of U.S. president. In his speech Obama made a veiled reference to allegations of corruption to the Afghan president, saying "the era of the blank check is over" and that "we will explain clearly what we expect from those who help."

Afghan sources tell AsiaNews they have doubts about the effectiveness of a greater military presence. "You can’t resolve the problem with the army” the sources said. "The real problem is the widespread feeling of insecurity and corruption, which encompasses not only the face of government, but also the billions of dollars invested in rebuilding by the international community."

"The presence of the military – adds the sources - must have a value of rebuilding the country, while currently lacks bridges, schools, roads, medical facilities, 90% of the population is illiterate, and in recent months the situation has worsened."

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See also
Dialogue with Taliban endangers women's rights
Education, health care and social assistance to fight terrorism
Another suicide attack in Kabul, US calls for greater military commitment
NATO confirms withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014
The high cost of the Afghan war


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