April 8, 2013

US general: Taliban likely to be long-term threat

Robert Burns / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

In some parts of the country, Afghan villagers have shown their dissatisfaction with Taliban influence by taking up arms against the insurgents, even without being pushed by the U.S. or by Kabul. This has happened in recent weeks in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, a traditional stronghold of the Taliban. The Andar district of Ghazni province has seen a similar uprising.

"We should encourage it, but we shouldn't be seen as hijacking" these local movements, he said.

Dempsey said he discussed the uprisings with Karimi, the army chief, and the Afghan defense minister, Bismullah Khan Mohammadi. They told him they "appreciated that they should allow this to occur (and) they should probably nurture it. They don't necessarily feel at this point as if they should tangibly support it."

The Afghan government's concern, Dempsey said, is that influential warlords could embrace these local movements and eventually leverage them to threaten the armed forces of the central government.

In a separate interview Sunday with al-Hurra, the Arabic-language satellite TV channel funded by the U.S. government, Dempsey was asked whether he worries that Syria, in the midst of a civil war, could become another Afghanistan.

"I do. I have grave concerns that Syria could become an extended conflict" that drags on for many years, he said.

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