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Local Muslims See Little Benefit in Afghanistan ‘Surge’

Members of Cambodia’s Muslim community say an increase of US troops in Afghanistan will not end the war but could instead worsen the conflict and even spread terrorist acts.

“The war between the US and Afghanistan has lasted eight years already, but no result can be seen,” Mat Islamiyas, a university student in Phnom Penh, said at her dormitory Monday. “That is to say no terrorist leaders can be found. So the results of the war have been only losses. Those who will be killed are civilians.”

US President Barack Obama announced earlier this month an increase of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, the latest US attempt to defeat a Taliban insurgency that has proven its resilience in an eight-year war.

The increase would put the number of US soldiers at more than 100,000, in a war that began following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US by al Qaeda, which had sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

“Although Mr. Obama chose to send more troops in a bid to eliminate al Qaeda or the Taliban considered as terrorists, America will not win the war,” said Mot Harifin, a staff member of Muslim Aid Cambodia. “The addition would only make the Taliban in Afghanistan more active in their terrorist acts; thus this will affect the world as a whole.”

Sos Musin, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Religion, agreed.

“The sending of more American and NATO troops to Afghanistan will only cause more deaths and damage to people’s property,” he said. “So, in my opinion, it would be better if America could take on negotiations or seek other peaceful solutions.”

He added that the decision of more troops in Afghanistan should be left to Afghan people.

“I see it as nonsense, sending more troops,” said Asmat Yasya, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The US may be able to kill insurgents, he said, but that does not mean they will prevent terror attacks.

“It is better that America spends the money reserved for a military surge on building schools and hospitals for the Afghan people, so that they stop supporting the Taliban,” he said.