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US Afghan Strategy 'Not Working'
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A report by the top US general in Afghanistan is expected to say that the the current military strategy is not working, the BBC understands. General Stanley McChrystal will liken the US military to a bull charging at a matador [the Taliban] - slightly weakened with each "cut" it receives.

His review is also expected to say that protecting the Afghan people against the Taliban must be the top priority. But the report will not carry a direct call for increasing troop numbers. Word of Gen McChrystal's report came as further results from last week's presidential election were expected to be released, at 1230 GMT. President Hamid Karzai is leading so far.

The independent Electoral Complaints Commission says that of more than 2,100 allegations of wrongdoing during voting and vote-counting, 618 have been deemed serious enough to affect the election's outcome, if proven.BBC North America editor Mark Mardell says General McChrystal's bullfighting metaphor is striking because it is not the usual way that US commanders talk about the country's armed forces.

The general's blunt assessment will also say that the Afghan people are undergoing a crisis of confidence because the war against the Taliban has not made their lives better, our correspondent says. General McChrystal says the aim should be for Afghan forces to take the lead but their army will not be ready to do that for three years and it will take much longer for the police.

And he will warn that villages have to be taken from the Taliban and held, not merely taken. General McChrystal also wants more engagement with the Taliban fighters and he believes that 60% of the problem would go away if they could be found jobs.More than 30,000 extra US troops have been sent to Afghanistan since President Barack Obama ordered reinforcements in May - almost doubling his country's contingent and increasing the Western total to about 100,000.

This report does not mention increasing troop numbers - that is for another report later in the year - but the hints are all there, our correspondent says. But when General McChrystal's report lands on President Obama's desk he will have to ponder the implications of increasing a commitment to a conflict which opinion polls suggest is losing support among the American people.

The latest Washington Post-ABC news poll suggests that only 49% of Americans now think the fight in Afghanistan is worth it. In a recent BBC interview, General McChrystal said that he was changing the whole approach to the conflict in Afghanistan - from what he described as a focus on "body count", to enabling the Afghans to get rid of the Taliban themselves.

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised more support for UK troops in Afghanistan, during a surprise visit to the country. During the visit he met General McChrystal. Correspondents say the pair discussed the need to speed up the pace of training of Afghan troops.

Source: BBC

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