SOME OF America’s closest Nato allies have abandoned Washington on the key battleground of the War on Terror, the bloody struggle against Islamic militants for control of southern Afghanistan.
Five years after the world stood «shoulder to shoulder» with America in the aftermath of 9/11, The Times has learnt that many of the countries that pledged support then have now ignored an urgent request for more help in fighting a resurgent Taleban and its al-Qaeda allies.
Turkey, Germany, Spain and Italy have all effectively ruled out sending more troops. France has not committed itself either way, but the military sources in Kabul said that there were no expectations that the French would contribute to a new battlegroup, especially now that they were providing a substantial force in Lebanon.
They have rejected an appeal from General James Jones, the American Supreme Allied Commander Europe, for 2,500 more troops to fight alongside American, British, Canadian and Dutch soldiers. The 26-nation alliance has not volunteered a single extra combat soldier.
Nato sources told The Times yesterday that «no one has come forward» with any reinforcements for the war. One military source in Kabul said: «We’re not just looking for extra troops. We want a proper battle group of fighting soldiers who are prepared to confront the Taleban in southern Afghanistan. No one seems to want to commit combat troops.»
However, the military sources in Kabul said: «We need an alliance member with experience and the troops to match to lead a battle group that can be deployed in southern Afghanistan. We just don’t know who is going to do it.»