US fighting a losing war in Afghanistan: Mullah Omar

The Taliban leader said the West is losing the war in Afghanistan and called on Afghans to repel the ‘invading infidels’ as experts urged the US to scale back troops and goals.

The United States and Nato have 150,000 troops in Afghanistan aiming to quell the insurgency that began soon after the Taliban regime was overthrown in a US-led invasion in late 2001.

The strategy pivots on a surge of 30,000 extra troops ordered up by US President Barack Obama in December in an attempt to bring a cohesiveness to the battle which military commanders and politicians had said was missing.

Most of the new deployments have headed south to Helmand and Kandahar, heart of the insurgency which has intensified and spread across the country, notably during the past six months.

As the war becomes more unpopular with the public of the United States and its Nato partners, President Hamid Karzai has moved to open a dialogue with Taliban leaders, setting up a High Peace Council to spearhead the task.

The Taliban have said they will not enter into peace talks until all foreign troops have left the country, and have deftly used Obama’s announcement that US forces will begin drawing down next year in their anti-Western propaganda.

Omar’s message, emailed to international news organisations, came as the Islamic world prepared to mark Eid al-Fitr, the feast ending Islam’s Ramazan fasting month.

“The victory of our Islamic nation over the invading infidels is now imminent and the driving force behind this is the belief in the help of Allah and unity among ourselves,” he said.

“Put all your strength and planning behind the task of driving away the invaders and regaining independence of the country,” he told Afghan mujahedeen (fighters).

He said that “those military experts who have framed strategies of the invasion of Afghanistan or are now engaged in hammering out new strategies, admit themselves that all their strategies are nothing but a complete failure”.

His message came as almost 50 scholars and policymakers issued a report saying the United States should scale back troops and goals in Afghanistan as its military campaign had backfired.

The study, billed as a Plan B for Obama, said the United States did not need to defeat the Taliban, describing it as a movement with local goals unlikely to regain control of Afghanistan.

The report was offered by participants as “a much-needed rethink on the war in Afghanistan” said Representative Mike Honda, a liberal Democrat from California, whose policy advisor Michael Shank participated in the study.