Monday, November 20, 2006

'War on terror' could last 30 years or more

Agence France Presse
Nov 20, 2006

The fight against terrorism could last 30 years or more, according to a report published by a British think tank that specialises in international security.

"There is every prospect of the 'war on terror' extending for 30 years or more," said the report by the Oxford Research Group.

"What is required is a complete re-assessment of current policies but that is highly unlikely, even with the recent political upheavals".

The US Democrats triumphed in legislative elections on November 7 in which they reclaimed the House and the Senate, at the expense of President George W. Bush's Republicans.

"Most people believe that the recent elections mark the beginning of the end of the Bush era but that does not apply to the war on terror," said Professor Paul Rogers, who wrote the report, in a statement.

"In reality there will be little change until the United States faces up to the need for a fundamental re-think of its policies".

The report showed that the United States is now faced with a dilemma: if it withdraws from Iraq, insurgent groups will be able to operate freely in the biggest oil reserve in the world.

"If it stays, though, then US soldiers become an increasing magnet for radical factions, with Iraq becoming a training ground for new generations of paramilitaries, just as Afghanistan was in the 1980s against the Soviet occupying forces," the report said.

It said that the "fundamental mistake" was to remove the regime of president Saddam Hussein by force, which was a "gift" for Al-Qaeda and extremist groups because the deployment of 150,000 US soldiers in the heart of the Arab world is considered by many to be "an occupation force".

At the same time, the war in Afghanistan, that has so far lasted six years, has seen "a marked increase in Taliban activity at a time of record revenues from opium production" and the insurgency there "shows no sign of ending".

The importance of oil in the region "means that it would be entirely unacceptable for the United States to consider withdrawal from Iraq, no matter how insecure the environment".

Professor Rogers has since May 2005 been studying the situation in Iraq and its impact on other countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East.

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