Editor's Note: Melissa Labonte is an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University. Peter Romaniuk is an associate professor of political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
By Melissa Labonte and Peter Romaniuk – Special to CNN
Recently, after militants undertook a 20-hour assault on the U.S. embassy and NATO compound in Kabul, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, downplayed the implications. “This really is not a very big deal,” he said, adding that, “If that’s the best they can do, I think it’s actually a statement of their weakness.” Following the recent assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan President and leader of the government’s efforts to negotiate peace with the Taliban, the ambassador should rethink his poorly chosen words.
The uptick in violence in Afghanistan includes multiple attacks in the capital (the British Council, the Inter-Continental Hotel, and the Afghan Defense Ministry), as well as the recent assassinations of four of President Hamid Karzai’s closest advisers: his half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai; Kandahar city mayor, Ghulam Haidar Hameedi; long-time mentor, Jan Mohammad Khan, and outspoken Taliban opponent, Mohammed Daud Daud. These events have occurred against the backdrop of a particularly deadly summer for U.S. forces – at 70, U.S. casualties in August set a record for any month in America’s near-decade long engagement. By any measure, the current situation in Afghanistan is a very big deal.
An Air Force combat controller describes how he saved lives while injured in Afghanistan and earned the Air Force Cross for valor.
By Tim Lister and Jennifer Rizzo, CNN
The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul – apparently by the very group he was trying to negotiate with – suggests a political solution in Afghanistan remains a distant prospect – and is another reminder of how fragile security is in the Afghan capital, according to analysts and diplomats.
Rabbani was also one of the most prominent Tajiks in Afghanistan, and his killing is likely to aggravate their fears of renewed ethnic conflict with the largely Pashtun Taliban. FULL POST
By CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Islamabad, Pakistan
Whatever peace process there was in Afghanistan, there is probably little left today.
The assassination Tuesday of Professor Burhanudin Rabbani in his home by at least one suicide bomber who hid a device in his turban hasn't just again reminded residents of Kabul that even the safest areas are vulnerable to insurgent attacks. It's surely made insurgents who have even the slightest whimsy to negotiate think again. FULL POST
An Afghan political figure considered vital to peace efforts in the country was assassinated Tuesday, officials said.
Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president who had been leading the Afghan peace council, died when a suicide bomber detonated inside his home in Kabul, said Mohammad Zahir, chief of investigations for Kabul police. The attacker wore a suicide vest, Zahir said. FULL POST
Afghan and coalition forces battled Taliban militants who launched a brazen assault against high-profile coalition targets in central Kabul Tuesday.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told CNN that they targeted "the U.S. Embassy, governmental organizations and other foreign organizations."
"Our insurgents attacked in Kabul city," Mujahid said as reports surfaced of violence in other parts of the city as well.
The strike occurred amid intelligence that insurgents might launch a high-profile attack in the capital around the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, a coalition officer and a senior ISAF official confirmed to CNN.
Militants opened fire near the U.S. Embassy and NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters after they stormed a nearby abandoned building, U.S., NATO and Afghan officials said.
Most Americans probably remember the moment they first saw images of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
In rural Afghanistan, where the United States struck the Taliban and al Qaeda the following month, you may be hard pressed to find someone who knows what the attacks were. FULL POST
Billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds are being spent to send diplomats and other civilians to Afghanistan without proper understanding of how the money is spent and how expenses may keep going up, a new report concludes.
"No agency has comprehensively assessed the cost of establishing and sustaining the civilian uplift or the mechanisms in place to ensure uplift funds are used appropriately," the report said, pointing out that most of the civilians and the expenses are part of the State Department. "Uplift" is a government term for bringing more civilians into the war zone.
"State had neither established formal mechanisms with other agencies regarding their use of civilian uplift funds nor monitored how agencies spent funds and instead relied on informal communications such as emails and meetings," the report said. "As a result, this increased the risk that funds would not be spent for their intended purpose."
The report was a joint effort by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR) and the State Department inspector general.
After Osama bin Laden was killed in May, the house where he was found was teeming with journalists and quite open. Now, the Pakistan Army surrounds the house with vegetation growing thick around it. Things have definitely changed.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh travels to Abbotabad, Pakistan, to visit one of the few reminders of the architect of the September 11, 2011, attacks as the world is still asking – how did bin Laden live here so long?