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Embassy Row: Taliban Losing
by James Morrison

Washington Times

06.30.2007

The Afghan ambassador took advantage of the new media on the Internet to predict the defeat of resurgent Taliban terrorists, to insist that Islam and democracy are compatible, and to thank the United States and other nations for defending and rebuilding his country.

Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad also acknowledged in an interview with the conservative blog Captain's Quarters (www.captainsquartersblog.com) that his government has failed so far to meet targets for the national army and police.

He drew a distinction between U.S. involvement in Iraq and in Afghanistan, which the United States invaded in 2001 to attack al Qaeda base camps and the brutal Taliban regime that sheltered the terrorists who plotted the September 11 attacks. NATO forces are now battling a resurgence in the Taliban movement based in strongholds along parts of the Pakistan border.

"They are losing in large numbers," Mr. Jawad said of the Taliban, "but they are successful in doing suicide bombings, roadside bombings and others."

The ambassador dismissed critics of the Bush administration who doubt that Muslim countries like Afghanistan can embrace democracy. He noted that his country knows the difference between freedom and dictatorships.

"We all demand freedom. We all hate dictatorship," Mr. Jawad said. "I don't think that anywhere in the world, anybody is either trying or it is possible to impose democracy.

"What you are doing in Afghanistan is trying to prevent others from imposing dictatorship, despotism on the Afghan people."

The ambassador rejected charges that the United States has imperialistic designs on his region. He said the United States helped Afghan rebels to defeat the Soviet occupation in the 1980s but abandoned the Afghans too soon, leaving a weak government to fight off a new challenge from Islamic extremism imported by the same foreign forces that helped fight the Soviets.

"Our biggest complaint was that you left us when the Soviets were gone," Mr. Jawad said. "So we were asking for your engagement. We were demanding that. There was so much extremism introduced in the small nation of Afghanistan that we, as Afghans, could not save our country without your assistance. It took 9/11 for you to come back to assist us."

Through his travels in the United States and talks with U.S. officials, the ambassador said, he has learned that Americans draw a distinction between the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I'm really not concerned about the possible withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan," he said. "There is no shortage of commitment or courage in Afghanistan to defend Afghanistan."

However, the country is not yet ready to defend itself, he admitted, noting that the Afghan army and police are only halfway to their goals of training 35,000 troops and 55,000 police officers.

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