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UK 'not up to task' in Afghanistan, say leaked US cable

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Dec 3, IRNA -- Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan have been harshly criticised by the country’s president Hamid Karzai, local officials and the American commander of Nato troops, according to leaked US cables.

Secret US embassy cables, obtained by whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks, report conversations in which Karzai said that Britain was “not up to the task” of securing the southern province of Helmand and suggested the job would be better given to the US.

US General Dan McNeill, who led Nato forces in Afghanistan in 2007/08, is said to have been “dismayed” by a British effort which “made a mess of things” in Helmand.

The latest disclosure, from over quarter a million leaked cables, comes amid reports of US attempts to kill-off WikiLeaks website, while British police were seeing to arrest its owner, Australian journalist, Julian Assange, on an Interpol red notice for alleged ‘sex crimes.’

Other disclosures in the biggest leak of secret diplomatic missives in the history of international relations contain a series of stringent US criticism of the UK, including of Prime Minister David Cameron and instructions to spy on British MPs.

But according to former British Ambassador in Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles, the diplomatic cable traffic on Afghanistan contains few surprises.

“I knew, and reported to ministers in London, that President Hamid Karzai was suspicious of British efforts and motives in Helmand,” CowperpColes said.

“We knew too that the Americans in general, and the US marines in particular, believed they could do a better job in Helmand than British forces,” he said in an article for the Guardian newspaper on Friday.

'The real tragedy about these telegrams is that they miss the point: that the entire western military effort in Afghanistan will in the end be for nothing unless it is part of a wider political strategy,” the former ambassador said.

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