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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 09:56 GMT
Analysis: Has the US succeeded in Afghanistan?
Afghan child crying
There is still widespread hunger in Afghanistan
Kate Clark

US President George W Bush has spoken of the success of America's war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

We have freed the country from brutal oppression and saved a people from starvation" Mr Bush said.

Several members of the new administration in Kabul could probably stand trial for war crimes

But just how successful has the American campaign been from an Afghan perspective?

Five months ago the Taleban seemed to be firmly in power in Kabul and al-Qaeda were an integral, and the most brutal, part of their military machine.

The Islamic militants have now been rooted out, al-Qaeda's secure refuge gone and their ability to plot from Afghan soil fatally compromised.

The US has also gained valuable intelligence.

Still at large

But this was a campaign which was strongly personalised and America's number one enemy Osama Bin Laden has never been found.

He may be dead or he may have fled elsewhere to fight another day.

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (left) and President George Bush
Most Afghans support the interim government
Al-Qaeda's main backers, the Taleban, have disintegrated. Their swift collapse shows what shallow roots they really had here.

But the Americans have failed to capture most of the senior leadership, including Mullah Omar.

Mr Bush' claim to have saved Afghanistan from starvation is far fetched - this is still a very hungry country, but it now has an interim government and a peace process, albeit still a very fragile one.

Future hope

In most areas the removal of the Taleban left a power vacuum for war lords to move into.

Several members of the new administration in Kabul could probably stand trial for war crimes in The Hague.

Afghans are still frightened to criticise the new authorities, but as one activist who worked clandestinely under the Taleban told me, it is still a thousand times better now.

The dreary totalitarian rule of the Taleban is over. Afghans finally have some hope.

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