Britain is to send an extra 1,400 troops to Afghanistan because other European countries have refused to help. Recent fighting has been the bloodiest in the five year war.
UK Defence Minister Des Brown says his government now has no choice: “It is increasingly clear, at present, that when it comes to the most demanding tasks in the more challenging parts of Afghanistan that only we, and a small number of key allies, are prepared to step forward.”
Most British troops are deployed along Afghanistan’s southern border, in Helmand province, fighting a resurgent Taliban. Hamid Karzai’s government is hosting nearly 35,000 foreign soldiers. The majority are Americans and British but other nations such as Poland, Germany, France, Denmark and Turkey, are also represented.
At the recent NATO meeting in Spain the call went out for more troops. It went largely unheeded. It is bad timing for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who has just announced the withdrawal of almost the same number of soldiers from Iraq.