The Daily Telegraph, August 8, 2007

British will be in Afghanistan 'for 38 years'

Afghanistan was assessed by the World Bank as the fourth most corrupt country on earth in a survey.

By Tom Coghlan

The commander of British forces in Helmand Province has predicted that the British army deployment to Afghanistan will last at least as long as the 38 years that it took British forces to pull out of Northern Ireland.

Brigadier John Lorimer said: "If you look at the insurgency then it could take maybe 10 years. Counter-narcotics, it's 30 years. If you’re looking at governance and so on, it looks a little longer. If you look at other counter-insurgency operations over the last 100 years then it has taken time."

"The security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated," Karzai said on the CNN.
As for catching bin Laden, Karzai said: "We are not closer; we are not further away from it. We are where we were a few years ago."
The Herald Tribune, , Aug.6, 2007

His bleak assessment comes a year into a deployment which, when he announced it to parliament, the then Defence Secretary John Reid hoped would be completed in three years "without a shot being fired."

Instead British forces have found themselves fighting a bloody and protracted war against determined Taliban insurgents, producing the hardest fighting that British forces have seen in a half a century.

Sixty-six British soldiers have been killed since 2001 in Afghanistan and hundreds injured, the vast majority in Helmand since July of last year. Brigadier Lorimer's remarks to The Observer follow recent comments by the new British Ambassador to Kabul, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who told the BBC in an interview in June that the British public must be prepared for "a marathon not a sprint" in Afghanistan.

Sir Sherard denied reports suggesting that he believed British forces would remain in Afghanistan for thirty years but said: "I've said the task of standing up a government of Afghanistan that is sustainable is going to take a very long time. It's a marathon rather than a sprint. We should be thinking in terms of decades."

He added: "We're not [talking] about a long-term military presence but we are serious about a long-term development presence, because this country does matter to us and to the region in so many ways."

Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries on earth. About a third of its $10billion gross domestic product comes from the opium trade.

It was assessed by the World Bank as the fourth most corrupt country on earth in a survey released last month. Afghans have a life expectancy of 47.

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