US advisers ‘doubt Obama’s Afghan strategy’

US President Barack Obama’s top advisers spent much of the past 20 months arguing about policy and turf, according to a new book, with some top members of his national security team doubting the president’s strategy in Afghanistan will work.

The book, “Obama’s Wars,” by journalist Bob Woodward, says Obama aides were deeply divided over the war in Afghanistan, even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there.

Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.

According to the book, Obama said: “I have two years with the public on this,” and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation in the Afghanistan war. “I want an exit strategy,” he said at one meeting. Privately, he told vice-president Joe Biden to push his alternative strategy, opposing a big troop build-up in meetings.

While Obama ultimately rejected the alternative plan, the book says, he set a withdrawal timetable because “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party”.

Meanwhile, a US official in Washington confirmed Woodward’s report that the CIA is running an all-Afghan paramilitary group in Afghanistan that has been hunting Taliban and al-Qaida targets.

A security professional in Kabul says the 3,000-strong force was set up in 2002 to capture targets for CIA interrogation.


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