Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian
September 8, 2010

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The threat posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban is exaggerated.

The threat posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban is exaggerated and the western-led counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan risks becoming a “long, drawn-out disaster”, one of the world’s leading security thinktanks warned today.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the west’s counter-insurgency strategy has “ballooned” out of proportion to the original aim of preventing al-Qaida from mounting terrorist attacks there, and must be replaced by a less ambitious but more sensible policy of “containment and deterrence”.

The critique of the US- and British-backed military policy is contained in the latest strategic survey from the IISS, a respected but usually uncontroversial body. IISS officers made clear today they have departed from their normal practice because of the serious threat to the west’s security interests in pursuing the current Afghan strategy.

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In an effort to ignite a fresh debate and bring about a new approach towards Afghanistan, they challenge claims, not least from David Cameron, that the presence of thousands of British troops in Afghanistan is necessary to prevent al-Qaida from returning and thus increasing the threat to the UK.

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