PULL TROOPS OUT CALL! – as army chief demands more

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‘We are opposed to more troops going into Afghanistan,’ a Stop the War Coalition spokesman told News Line yesterday.

He was responding to a call for more troops by the new head of the British Army, General Sir David Richards, who warned of the ‘terrifying prospect’ of a defeat in Afghanistan.

The Stop the War spokesman added: ‘We want all the troops withdrawn now.

‘The only thing General Richards is right about is that we are losing and the Afghan people want foreign troops out.’

Richards told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘If al-Qaeda and the Taleban believe they have defeated us – what next?

‘Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weaponed state and that is a terrifying prospect.

‘Even if only a few of those (nuclear) weapons fell into their hands, believe me they would use them.’

Richards stressed that ‘failure’ would signal ‘that al-Qaeda and the Taleban have defeated the US and the British and Nato, the most powerful alliance in the world.’

He added: ‘The geo-strategic implications would be immense.’

Richards supported NATO commander in Afghanistan, US General Stanley McChrystal’s call for more troops.

The British Army chief claimed that sending extra troops would allow NATO to begin winning the psychological battle against the Taleban who, he said, were ‘outstanding at psychological warfare’.

Richards expressed concern that a failure by the public to back the war would ultimately ‘delete’ troop morale, while warning that the ‘drumbeat’ of casualties in Helmand would continue for another three to five years, adding that the Army was ready to bear the sacrifice.

His warning came as the Ministry of Defence named the Royal Air Force Regiment gunner killed in a blast near Camp Bastion in Helmand on Thursday as Aircraftman Marcin Wojtak, while the US took its heaviest casualties in a day in Afghanistan.

Tribal militia launched attacks on Saturday from a local mosque and a village in Nuristan province near the border with Pakistan, the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

It said: ‘Coalition forces effectively repelled the attack and inflicted heavy enemy casualties, while eight ISAF and two ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) service members were killed.’

No exact details were given on the location of the firefight, which a Taleban spokesman claimed had killed 30 foreign and Afghan troops.

An ISAF spokesman confirmed that the foreign troops killed were all American.

The intelligence head of Nuristan province, Mohammad Farooq said that Saturday’s attack took place in the province’s Kamdesh region, near the border with Pakistan.

ISAF said the militants had fired on the coalition forces in outposts.

The attack was the deadliest single incident for foreign forces since ten French troops were killed in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan in August 2008.

Six Italian soldiers were killed in a massive suicide bomb in the capital Kabul last month.

This year has been the deadliest year for foreign troops since 2001, with 394 deaths, 236 of them American.

• Second News Story

VW MAY END MAGNA CONTRACT

German car maker Volkswagen is seeking to end or sharply reduce its ties with car parts maker Magna after the Canadian group’s takeover of VW rival Opel.

VW purchasing chief Francisco Garcia Sanz will be meeting Magna boss Siegfried Wolf in the next few days.

Volkswagen, which buys two billion euros ($2.8 billion) worth of parts from Magna every year, said it does not want its rival deducing from VW’s orders what might feature in future models.

The threat to halt orders from Magna would also apply to luxury sports car maker Porsche, which now belongs to the Volkswagen group.

Magna’s Wolf has pledged that his group would establish ‘a strict separation between the supplier Magna and activities tied to Opel.’

He also pledged to respect the ‘protection of confidentiality’ expected by Magna’s partners.

However, VW chairman Martin Winterkorn said: ‘We will examine our model of activity with Magna.’

Ferdinand Piech, head of the supervisory board at Volkswagen stressed: ‘From a business point of view, we don’t like it when a supplier becomes a competitor.’

The development follows Chrysler’s decision reported on Wednesday not to renew its contracts with Magna for the production of vehicles for the European market.

German car maker BMW also has expressed similar fears.

BMW finance director Friedrich Eichiner said last month that ‘until now, we have had a good cooperation with Magna, but the strategy has changed. We must consider which technologies are going to fall into the hands of a competitor.’