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 2nd, 2010
11:20 AM ET

Minority group emerges as a force in new Afghan parliament

An Afghan minority group apparently emerged as a stronger force in the country's legislature, a politically sensitive result in polls badly blemished by fraud and security problems.

The Hazaras, a minority Shiite community, gained 59 of 249 parliamentary seats in the recently-certified elections, a U.S. diplomat told CNN. That's a much larger percentage than their numbers - which the CIA World Factbook says is 9 percent of a 29 million-plus population.

The result raises concern among Western and Afghan officials that security problems could worsen over imbalances in the U.S.-backed government's tribal and ethnic presence. And the stakes are high for the Obama administration, which is seeking stability in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, regarded as the central front in the war on terror.

December 1st, 2010
10:43 AM ET

Court-martial hearing set for soldier accused of misconduct in Afghanistan

Wednesday's hearing will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

UPDATE: Attorneys for Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens Wednesday entered guilty pleas
for him on four of five counts at his court martial on charges of serious
misconduct in Afghanistan.

The first court-martial of one of the soldiers connected to a group of soldiers accused of killing Afghan citizens for sport, is scheduled to start Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Robert G. Stevens is one of seven soldiers "facing charges of serious misconduct while deployed in Afghanistan," the Army said in a statement.

Stevens' charges include conspiracy to commit assault and battery, dereliction of duty, aggravated assault and wrongfully and wantonly engaging in conduct likely to cause death or bodily harm to other soldiers, the Army said.

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Filed under: Soldier tapes • Troops • Understanding Afghanistan
November 19th, 2010
10:19 AM ET

Russia's new interest in Afghanistan

CNN's Matthew Chance reports on Russia's increased involvement in Afghanistan.

Filed under: NATO • Russia • Understanding Afghanistan
November 16th, 2010
02:39 PM ET

Canada plans for non-combat transition in Afghanistan

Canada, which is ending its combat mission in Afghanistan in
July, on Tuesday announced "a new role" to play in the war-torn nation, with a
focus on security, diplomacy, human rights and development.

"Building on strengths and accomplishments over the past years, Canada is
committed to helping build a more secure, stable and self-sufficient
Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists," said Foreign
Minister Lawrence Cannon.

November 16th, 2010
11:17 AM ET

Afghan blend of old and new justice

Jill Dougherty's exclusive look at how Afghans blend old traditions and modern day justice to establish rule of law.

November 5th, 2010
01:56 PM ET

Afghanistan withdrawal could imperil US-India relations, McCain warns

If the United States leaves Afghanistan prematurely,
the subsequent destabilization in the region will impose a "huge bearing" on relations between the United States and India, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the
top Republican on military matters, warned Friday.

"Afghanistan has become a major source of tension between the United States and India, for the primary reason that India does not believe we will stay until the job is done," McCain said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Police in Afghan region might have defected, officials say
November 2nd, 2010
11:37 AM ET

Police in Afghan region might have defected, officials say

Some policemen in a volatile Afghan province might have defected to the Taliban, the provincial governor told CNN on Tuesday.

Musa Khan Haidar Zada, governor of Ghazni province, said reports indicate that the defections occurred and that other police were poisoned.

October 21st, 2010
10:43 AM ET

U.S. military to experiment with unmanned helicopters

The U.S. military is hoping to use remote-controlled helicopters like these, shown in January 2010, for supply delivery.

Faced with increasing casualties from roadside bombs in Afghanistan, the U.S. military will experiment with remote-controlled, unmanned helicopters to deliver supplies to remote outposts, according to a report Thursday.

The U.S. Navy is seeking a contractor to operate the program, scheduled for 2011, the report in Stars and Stripes said.

“This is a rapid deployment effort being led by the Navy in response to an urgent needs requirement for a Cargo UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) capability in support of Marine Corps forces engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom,” Eric Pratson, leader of the Navy team behind the project, told Stripes.

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Filed under: Understanding Afghanistan
October 20th, 2010
04:50 PM ET

Bringing aid to the Afghans: A deadly occupation

On the morning of September 26, Linda Norgrove was in an unmarked Toyota Corolla traveling from Asadabad to Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, a spectacular route with towering mountains to the right and a broad river to the left. Spectacular but also very dangerous - ambush country in a part of Afghanistan where many different groups, including criminal gangs, the Taliban and al Qaeda - have a presence.

Norgrove, who was British, worked for Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a U.S. company that handles a number of substantial contracts for the USAID in Afghanistan. An experienced development worker who understood the risks of being in this volatile part of Afghanistan, she was wearing a burqa to better blend in and was traveling in a two-car convoy with local staff. But gunmen abducted her that day, on the very same stretch of road where two months earlier a U.S. military convoy had been ambushed.

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