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Politicians, journalists on Obama-Afghanistan issue

Dec 11, 2009, 9:53 AM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

Following US President Barack Obama's announcement of sending additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in a thirty-five minutes speech delivered at the US Military Academy at West Point, the United States Embassy in Banjul invited local politicians and journalist to share their opinions on the issue. Those invited included Hamat Bah of the NRP, Landing Jallow Sonko, Yaya Jallow, Madi K. Ceesay of the Daily News and Ebrima Sawaneh of the Point Newspaper.

In her welcoming statement, Cindy Crigg, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Banjul said the purpose of inviting journalists and politicians was to express their feelings on America’s decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan.   

First to speak was an erstwhile politician during PPP regime, Yaya Jallow who welcomed US President’s intention of sending an additional 30, 000 US troops to Afghanistan.

According to him, US President’s intention of sending more troops to Afghanistan should be based on dialogue rather than military action. He said Afghanistan’s neighbours should not be isolated in the dialogue, if US President wants to bring a lasting peace in that area. He also stated that US fight against Taliba should not be seen as a terror against Islam but a fight against terrorists whose main intention is to destabilise the Middle East for no justifiable reason.

Madi Ceesay, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News, for his part, said US President’s intention should be based on peaceful negotiation instead of military might against the Taliban. Mr. Ceesay said US President should engage in peaceful negotiation instead of follow his predecessor’s footsteps.   

Hamat NK Bah, a politician stated that fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not geared towards fighting Islam but to eliminate Al-Qaeda extremists in the Middle East and the world at large. Hamat noted that sending additional troops to Afghanistan is a welcome news but emphasised that US mission in Afghanistan should be based on fighting terrorists and nothing else.

According to him, people should not interpret US President’s intention in Afghanistan as a religious sentiment, but a fight that would bring lasting peace and harmony to the Middle East. He said terrorism is one of the biggest threats of the whole world today, and condemned all those who disguised themselves in the name of Islam to inflict terror on innocent lives.

For his part, Ebrima Sawaneh of the Point Newspaper said the millions of dollars spent on such wars could be better utilised on developing countries, while urging for more dialogue in solving such conflicts rather than using military might.

Mr. Sawaneh cited Iraq where several lives were lost, and therefore expressed concern that similar situation may happen in Afghanistan. He also added that even if such troops succeeded in dismantling the Taliban, he is worried that they might find another safe heaven somewhere else.