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Taliban Resistance to Divide Western Alliance in Afghanistan
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Taliban's regrouping and stiff resistance against the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are likely to divide the Western alliance as public opinion in some of the Western countries is against fighting in Afghanistan.

The number of Westerners opposing the war in Afghanistan is much higher than five years ago when the US-led military alliance invaded the war-ravaged Central Asian country to topple the Taliban regime on Oct. 7, 2001.

A majority of the people of Canada, a major ally of the United States in the war on terror, are against the military presence of Canada in Afghanistan, according to a survey conducted last month.

Fifty-nine percent of 2,038 Canadians interviewed in September were against Canada's military mission in Afghanistan, saying Canadian soldiers "are dying for a cause we cannot win".

Only 20 percent of Canadian adults between 18 to 34 years old, according to the survey, were willing to fight.

Canada has lost 39 soldiers since the beginning of its mission in Afghanistan nearly five years ago and the number is on the rise as Taliban militants are pointing their guns on Canadian troops in Taliban's former stronghold Kandahar where some 2,300 Canadian forces have been stationed to stabilize security.

Taliban-led militancy has claimed the lives of more than 2,400 people including more than 110 foreign soldiers since the beginning of this year, a figure almost double the casualties last year.

Out of the foreign troops killed in Afghanistan this year, 69 are Americans, according to the Western media reports. And the United States has lost 280 soldiers ever since it launched the campaign against Taliban regime in late 2001.

The rising casualties have caused concern among the NATO member states and allies as none of the military alliance member was willing to commit more troops to Afghanistan when their defense ministers met in Belgium last month despite appeal by NATO-led ISAF Commander in Afghanistan General David Richards.

Taliban's rapid resurgence and increasing attacks on the US- dominated forces in Afghanistan have also shocked Britain, another stanch ally of Washington in the war on terror as Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that the battle with Afghan insurgents has been more difficult than anticipated.

"I think the particular mission was tougher than any one expected but I am not surprised it was tough," Blair told BBC in an interview last month.

British Defense Secretary Des Browne in an address to the Royal United Services Institute in September also admitted that the battle in southern Afghanistan "had been harder than expected."

Another key ally of the United States in the war on terror in Afghanistan is Italy, which has been torn by bitter controversies over its military presence in the post-Taliban nation after one of its soldiers was killed and five others were wounded in a roadside bomb attack late last month outside Kabul.

The casualties, according to media reports, have prompted several political forces including the Communist and Green parties to urge Rome for a quick disengagement from Afghanistan.

Some 33,000 NATO-led ISAF forces and 8,000 US troops have been stationed in Afghanistan to stabilize security, track down Taliban militants and al-Qaida operatives and bolster the reconstruction process of the war-battered country.

Nevertheless, the well equipped Western military alliance and the US well disciplined army with its hi-tech military hardware have failed to root out Taliban militants in mountainous southern provinces, where the militias rose in mid last decade and impose strict law in most part of the country.

The Western military alliance's inability to eliminate a militant group and Taliban's firm resolve to fight back the world's powerful alliance speak of the alliance daunting challenges facing in Afghanistan that could undermine its credibility in the future.

(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2006)

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