Afghanistan Copes with Resurgent Taliban

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KABUL, Afghanistan - The war in Afghanistan will be one of the biggest foreign policy challenges facing President-elect Barack Obama.

The country has witnessed some of the worst violence in years as the Taliban tries to stage a comeback. Many Afghans are struggling to cope with the resurgence in violence.

Violence on the Rise

Ahmad Massieh is struggling to keep his business afloat. This young 23-year-old runs two men's clothing stores in Afghanistan's first modern-style shopping mall.

"The business is getting worse everyday," Massieh said. "When there are suicide attacks or there's a bomb attack, obviously it reflects on the business."

Afghanistan has seen renewed levels of violence this year as the Taliban has stepped up its campaign to overthrow the Western-backed government of Hamid Karzai.

One Afghan citizen said, "We don't feel safe. Everyday people are getting kidnapped and killed. When we leave our homes, we're not sure if we'll come back dead or alive."

In August, Afghan forces took over responsibility for the security of the capital from NATO. Since then, there's been a wave of targeted killings against locals and foreigners, leaving many to wonder if the Afghan government can assert its authority even in its own capital.

"My fear is that it is going to get worse and start spreading to other cities," said one Afghan.

More and more Afghans think the only solution is for the United States and the Afghan government to negotiate with the Taliban to end the violence.

Mohammed Omar teaches law at a leading university in Kabul.

"The Taliban is part of our country, they are Afghans as well. I hope that George Bush and the next president, Barack Obama, can convince the Taliban to join the government in rebuilding this country and not to ruin it," Omar said.

Taliban: No Sharia, No Peace

So far the Taliban has shown no interest in talking peace. One of the group's highest-ranking commanders told Newsweek magazine recently, "We are waging jihad to bring Islamic law back to Afghanistan."

The Taliban have vowed to continue their attacks until they drive all foreign forces out of the country - a sentiment that appears to be gaining ground among some Afghans.

"If more U.S. troops come into Afghanistan, the longer this war goes on and violence will get worse. The foreign troops should leave Afghanistan and allows Afghans to run the country," another Afghan resident said.

Some 30,000 American forces are serving Afghanistan, with more scheduled to arrive in coming months.

In the meantime, like millions of people around the world, Massieh followed the U.S. election with special interest. Now he's hoping that as President-elect Obama takes over America's war on terror. Afghanistan's future stability will be on the top priorities for U.S. foreign policy.

Massieh said, "The one and only thing for Afghanistan is peace. And if we have peace, believe me, now one can ruin Afghanistan!"

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