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Can Afghanistan be saved?

An interview with NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen.

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Mina Al-Oraibi: What are the main challenges that face the Arab world and NATO?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: The countries within the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative share our interests in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, because if Afghanistan is left behind, there is the risk of it [instability] spreading to the region, not to speak of the risk of destabilizing neighboring Pakistan, a nuclear power.

Oraibi: Many people in the Arab world feel this is not their fight, not their war. What steps can you take to further convince people and make them buy in to the importance of Afghanistan?

Rasmussen: If it became visible that countries with a Muslim background also contributed to our mission in Afghanistan, then it would become even more clear, which is a fact, that this is not about religion but a fight against extremism and terrorism. Already now, a couple of countries with Muslim backgrounds contribute to our mission in Afghanistan. It is very important for me to stress that this is definitely not about religion; it is about protecting the Afghan people against terrorism and extremism.

Oraibi: How exactly can Muslim countries support the effort there?

Rasmussen: There is a wide range of possibilities, from military contributions to financial contributions. In particular, I would point to the importance of supporting our training mission in Afghanistan, because this is what I would call the headline of our mission in Afghanistan – the transition to an Afghan lead across the board from security to development.

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