Afghanistan Eclipsing Iraq as Focus of War on Terror, Analysts Say

Analysts say Afghanistan is overtaking Iraq as the focus of the war on terror, the AFP reported.

Violence in Afghanistan has increased since 2001, when the Taliban were ousted from the country. The recent spike in violence has caused international concern over the country's situation.

Earlier this month the Taliban staged a major jailbreak in southern Afghanistan, freeing around 900 inmates, including 400 Taliban rebels. Taliban militants then took control of several villages outside the city of Kandahar. Afghan and international forces have launched a major offensive to drive them out.

Last year saw the greatest number of violence-related civilian deaths, with thousands of villages and government employees targeted. Troop casualties for the international coalition forces have also grown, AFP reported.

As a sign of growing international concern, donors from around the world earlier this month pledged to give more than $20 billion in aid to help Afghanistan rebuild and improve its security.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged extra troops for Afghanistan during a recent visit with President Bush during his tour of Europe.

NATO members present in Afghanistan are stepping up their efforts. Earlier this year, France sent extra troops to Afghanistan to bolster the NATO-backed International Security Assistance Force, ISAF.

Afghanistan has been given substantial attention in the recent months in the U.S. during the presidential primary campaigns. Both Republican and Democratic candidates have expressed that more needs to be done there.

Democratic candidate Barack Obama said that Afghanistan, rather than Iraq, would be his priority in the war on terror. In an interview with Iowa Public Television, he said the United States would also have to “ramp up its nonmilitary efforts.”

Republican candidate John McCain has expressed the need for more U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.

The Afghans also feel that the international community should step up its efforts in their country.

"At the end of the day they have to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and win against it here, not in Iraq," Ahmad Behzad, a member of Afghanistan's parliament and a former journalist, told AFP.

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