The Joint Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces has declared that the military operation in Afghanistan may last at least until the Summer of 2002.
Admiral Sir Michael Boyce declared in London yesterday that the mission in Afghanistan could continue “during the Winter and even until the Summer, at least”.
If the Taleban do not take advantage of the offer presented to them by President Bush, namely if Osama Bin Laden is delivered, the USA and United Kingdom will reconsider their action, the field is set for a long drawn-out fight.
Sir Michael Boyce stated that “good progress” is being made in the “first phase” of the campaign. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has confirmed that there is no evidence linking Iraq in any way with Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organisation.
A document released by the British government last Wednesday reveals the possibility that a second phase in the fight against terrorism will be launched against cells of Al-Qaeda lodged in other states. Phase two could thus include the extremist bases in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Philippine authorities have confirmed that a “considerable number” of “military advisors” are soon to be sent to Manila to aid the government of Gloria Arroyo to combat the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.
The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia are also waging wars against separatist Moslem guerrillas in Aceh and Borneo, respectively.
John ASHTEAD PRAVDA.Ru LONDON UNITED KINGDOM