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Taliban: U.S. will suffer same fate as Soviets

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- In a stern warning to the U.S, the supreme leader of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban has said that any intervention in Afghanistan will suffer the same fate as the Soviet Union did in the 1980s.

In a statement carried by the Afghan Islamic Press, Mullah Mohammad Omar said that any Afghans that support the U.S. in overthrowing the Taliban would be treated as enemies.

"Those Afghans who want to take over power in Afghanistan with the help of the American troops are the same as those Afghans who came into Afghanistan with the help of the Russian troops," AIP quoted him as saying, referring to the Soviet invasion on Christmas Day, 1979.

"In case of intervention into Afghanistan, no difference will be made between America and Russia and those Afghans who are brought in by the Americans will be treated like those who were brought in by the communists," he said.

The Taliban came to power in Kabul around five years ago and remain locked in a bitter civil war against the forces of the Northern Alliance which controls about 5 percent of Afghanistan.

Soviet forces occupied Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, during which they became bogged down in a conflict that many observers labeled Moscow’s Vietnam.

Their eventual defeat and withdrawal from Afghanistan presaged the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Strategy for change

Mullah Omar’s comments come as the Bush administration continues work on what officials call a broad strategy for fundamental change in Afghanistan.

With a dire humanitarian and security situation in the country, U.S. officials say the Taliban has not delivered on the promises of stability, and the Bush administration sees "fertile ground" for a "homegrown" regime change in Afghanistan.

Stressing that they could not "impose" a new government on the Afghan people, the officials say they are working with a variety of "Afghan nationalists" -- ethnic, religious and political Afghan groups in the country and within the Afghan diaspora -- in the hope they will band together and form a new coalition government.

"The question is, have the conditions changed enough so that Afghans themselves can effect a realignment," one official said. "Maybe it is time for the Afghan people to rise up."

"To have a successful regime in Afghanistan, it has to be home grown. You have to come up with a formula that is balanced with all ethnic groups and sects."


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