A key part of the coalition effort in Afghanistan is to peel away militants from the Taliban and integrate them into society through jobs and opportunities. The Washington Post’s Joshua Partlow has a story on whether that strategy has a chance to work.
“Taliban leaders scoff at that notion, saying their loyalists are waging a determined holy war against the infidel armies of the West and can't be bought off,” Partlow writes.
“Interviews with [militants] who recently left the Taliban as part of an Afghan government effort to lure them from the battlefield suggest that in many cases, U.S. policymakers may be on to something.
“Several ex-fighters said they joined the Taliban not out of religious zealotry but for far more mundane reasons: anger at the government in Kabul, revenge for losing a government job, pressure from family or tribe members - or simply because they were broke.”
There's nothing more unpleasant than being awoken by a bomb. At 6:35 a.m. on Friday morning, I jerked upright as a huge blast rattled the windows in my bedroom and sent chunks of plaster clattering to the floor. As I looked around in sleepy confusion, not-too-distant gunfire echoed in the street outside.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan near the Safi Landmark Hotel in the neighborhood of Shahr-E-Naw, where there are a number of government buildings and U.N. offices as well as supermarkets, banks, diplomatic facilities and villas for well-to-do Afghans. At least 17 people were killed. Full story
U.S. Gen. Stanley McChyrstal, in an interview with USA Today, says that the recent arrests and killings of Taliban leaders are taking a toll on the organization.
“You see a weakening of the organization's confidence,” McChrystal told USA Today.
“McChrystal, however, cautioned that it was too early to suggest the recent successes in targeting militant leaders is ‘decisive’ because it hasn't led to a reduction in violence or fighters in Afghanistan,” writes Jim Michaels of USA Today.
"We don't see [the Taliban] collapsing," McChrystal told the paper.
Authorities raised the Afghan flag over the battle-scarred enclave of Marjah on Thursday, a ceremony symbolizing the presence of the Afghan government in the Taliban stronghold. The red, black and green banner was hoisted over an area where U.S. and other troops have been fighting the Taliban in Operation Moshtarak - the biggest offensive of the war. Full Story
After the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, U.S. Col. Harry Summers remarked to his North Vietnamese counterpart, "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield." After a moment, the North Vietnamese officer replied: "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant." Although that blunt exchange took place nearly 35 years ago, it's still worthy of close consideration in light of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Full Story
An Afghan government official said a tentative agreement was reached Wednesday to transfer a detained Afghan Taliban military leader from Pakistan to Afghanistan, but Pakistan quickly denied the assertion, reports CNN’s Ben Wedeman.
An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashari told CNN that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is to be handed over to Afghanistan as part of a prisoner swap between the two countries.
The agreement, reached in Islamabad, still needs to be reviewed by legal authorities in both countries, and once they've signed off on it, the exchange will start, Bashari said.
Baradar's presence in Afghanistan would mean U.S. authorities would have direct access to the militant, whose recent arrest in the Pakistani city of Karachi earlier this month has been seen as a major stride in the war against the Taliban.
However, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik told CNN there is no agreement to hand over Baradar as part of a prisoner swap and Afghanistan has not made a formal request for Baradar to be extradited.
As the top NATO commander in Afghanistan publicly apologized for the latest civilian deaths in the war, one of his former advisers said Tuesday the Afghan people have "crystallized their frustration" on the issue of civilian casualties.
"It's crystallized a disappointment with the international intervention that's been growing since about 2003," said Sarah Chayes, who just completed one year of service as an adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff in Kabul.