Tensions in NATO undermining Afghan operations, says think tank

January 27th, 2009 - 6:56 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanLondon, Jan 27 (DPA) Tensions within the NATO alliance and lack of progress in the fight against Taliban forces are undermining the international mission in Afghanistan, a leading British think tank warned Tuesday.The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said that the Taliban were stepping up the use of suicide bombings and expanding their operations into areas that were previously calm.

At the same time, NATO members were struggling to agree among themselves what constituted “success” in Afghanistan while the global economic crisis meant that military budgets throughout the alliance were coming under pressure.

The warning, in the IISS’s annual Military Balance survey of armed forces around the world, comes as new US President Barack Obama is expected to ask European NATO members to send more troops to the country.

The report said that the Taliban insurgency had continued “unabated” for the past 12 months - even moving into previously quiet provinces - adding to pressures on the alliance.

“Counter-insurgency efforts were forced to adapt to changes in Taliban tactics and seemed to make little overall headway,” it said.

The report said that tensions within NATO over mission objectives had undermined the mission’s effectiveness and a broader debate was now under way over how the international community should define “success” in Afghanistan.

“There is a growing need for Allies to improve their efforts to define a common understanding of their objectives in Afghanistan, given that the absence of any clear strategic success threatens the long-term sustainability of the NATO mission.”

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