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NATO: Iran can help stem Afghan violence

Source: Press TV

NATO Chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says Iran can help stabilize Afghanistan, amid a major stalemate in US military efforts in the country.

Only a day after Washington offered a grim view on its military operations in southern Afghanistan, Scheffer said Iran should be involved in efforts to secure, stabilize and rebuild the war-torn country.

According to Scheffer, a broader regional approach is needed to eradicate insurgency in Afghanistan.

Army Gen. David McKiernan, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said the US military has suffered logistical setbacks in its effort to restore security in Afghanistan and is now "stalemated" by the rampant Taliban insurgency.

"I'm not here to tell you that there's not an increased level of violence, because there is," he said, adding that an additional 17,000 troops are slated to join an estimated 38,000-strong US force already in Afghanistan

A leaked draft of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), revealed in October that US military operations in Afghanistan have failed to block the 'downward spiral' of corruption, drugs and insurgent violence in the war-ridden country.

The Washington Post recently quoted a senior US military official as saying that the Obama administration should seek Iran's help in a bid to stem the increasing violence in Afghanistan.

"The Bush administration has kept Tehran at arm's length, but as we look to the future, it would be helpful to have an interlocutor to explore shared objectives," said the senior US military official on condition of anonymity.

Washington's former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbin, has also acknowledged Tehran's major contributions to Washington's war against the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the US soil.

According to Dobbin, Few countries were as helpful to the United States - in its early involvement in Afghanistan - as Iran.

"Now coalition and Afghan troops are losing ground against the same insurgents they confronted in 2001, in a war that the United States is unlikely to win unless it rethinks its relationship with Iran," he added.

The Islamic Republic has emerged as a leading opponent of the Taliban during its five-year reign over Afghanistan. The radical regime nearly sparked a war with Iran in 1998, after its forces killed nine Iranian diplomats in the central Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

... Payvand News - 02/21/09 ... --

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