Karzai, brothers do not own security firms, official says
December 21st, 2010
11:05 AM ET

Karzai, brothers do not own security firms, official says

Following allegations earlier in the year that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his brothers owned private security companies, Interior Ministry adviser Abdul Manan Farahi said an investigation by the ministry concluded they did not.

"During the investigation we found out that President Karzai and his brothers do not have any private security companies and no private security companies have any links to them," Farahi said.
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Filed under: Karzai
December 20th, 2010
04:04 PM ET

Drone activity in Pakistan moves northward, official says

Intense drone activity in Pakistan's tribal region has moved northward, mirroring the movement of suspected militants as they try to flee the targeted strikes, according to a senior Pakistani military official.

Officials have seen an increased militant presence in Khyber Agency, one of the seven districts of Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan, said the official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the operation.

Specifically, he says "they are moving into the Tirah Valley."

Three suspected U.S. drone strikes Friday were all concentrated in the Tirah Valley, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The strikes, which targeted suspected militant hideouts and a training camp, killed 57 people - a record for a single day. Officials say all three hit within 4 square kilometers of each other

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Filed under: Drone strikes • Pakistan
December 20th, 2010
10:43 AM ET

Militants attack two fuel tankers in Pakistan

NATO trucks driven by Pakistani drivers prepare to cross into Afghanistan in 2009.

Suspected militants set fire to oil tankers carrying fuel for NATO forces, a government official in the northwestern tribal region said Monday.

Arshad Khan, a senior government official of Khyber Agency, said militants fired rockets on a convoy of four oil tankers, carrying fuel for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Two trucks caught fire, injuring the driver and his assistant in a truck, Khan said.

The incident took place in the Katha Kashta of Khyber Agency, one of the seven districts that make up Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

This is the latest strike on Afghan-bound supply convoys in Pakistan. The tankers are operated by contracted Pakistani firms hired by NATO, using Pakistani equipment and drivers.

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Filed under: Pakistan
December 20th, 2010
10:40 AM ET

Home for the holidays, then back to war

CNN's Catherine Callaway talks with an Army sergeant headed back to Afghanistan after two weeks with his family.

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Filed under: Troops
December 20th, 2010
10:33 AM ET

Afghanistan war review

CNN's Candy Crowley discusses the gains and setbacks in the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

December 17th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

New guidelines for night raids in Afghanistan

Coalition troops in Afghanistan have been issued revised guidelines for conducting night raids, an official from NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Friday.

The raids are considered effective tools to rout insurgents, but they have angered Afghan civilians and government officials.

The new directive is meant to underscore the need to coordinate raids with the Afghan government and inform civilians about the reasons for the operation, the ISAF official said.
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Mullen says AfPak review shows U.S. on 'right track'
December 17th, 2010
11:12 AM ET

Mullen says AfPak review shows U.S. on 'right track'

America's top military official said the U.S. review of strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan "shows us that we are on the right track," but more progress needs to be made, particularly in the area of government and the rule of law.

"I remain convinced that we have the right strategy, we have the right leadership and we now have the right resources in place to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, to reverse the momentum of the Taliban and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven," said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We can take nothing for granted at this point. In fact, our review tells us that in order to fully cement the progress we've made, we must work harder with local government on the delivery of basic services and on accountability."

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Filed under: Mullen • Obama's Afghan review
December 17th, 2010
11:04 AM ET

U.S. must draw the line at pedophilia in Afghanistan


Editor's note: Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including "Security First" and "New Common Ground." He was a senior adviser to the Carter administration and has taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and the University of California, Berkeley.

President Obama is reviewing, again, what we are doing in Afghanistan. He should order our diplomats and generals to stop turning a blind eye to the widespread sexual abuse of children.

At the time our troops helped liberate Afghanistan in 2001, pedophilia had been largely curbed by the Taliban. However, since then, some Pashtun men have have been abusing the new freedoms for which our young men and women are dying - to molest young boys.

This vile practice has been recently documented by an Afghan journalist who returned to his native country for public television's "Frontline."

The program starts with a flat statement: "In an Afghanistan ravaged by war and poverty, an ancient tradition has been secretly revived: Young boys sold by their families to wealthy merchants and warlords, taught to dance and entertain, and used for sex."

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Filed under: Obama • Opinion • Understanding Afghanistan
December 16th, 2010
03:46 PM ET

Obama trumpets U.S. gains in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama asserted Thursday that the United States is making significant progress in the nine-year war in Afghanistan, but warned that the conflict "continues to be a very difficult endeavor."

We are "on track to achieve our goals" of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and eroding "its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future," he said. The gains, however, are fragile.

The president noted, among other things, that there has been a "successful increase" in the recruitment and training of Afghan forces due partly to the July 2011 deadline set by the administration to start withdrawing the U.S. military.

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Filed under: Obama • Obama's Afghan review
December 16th, 2010
03:42 PM ET

Opinion: Rethink 'fight then talk' in Afghanistan

Editor's note: Patrick Doherty is the director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Despite tangible military progress in Afghanistan in recent months, the success of the Obama administration's strategy for Afghanistan will be determined by the measure of political and economic progress it brings.

For the last two years, American strategy in Afghanistan has followed the framework of "fight then talk." Under this thinking, the Taliban needed to be weakened before negotiations would begin.

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Opinion