August 12th, 2010
09:00 PM ET

U.N. envoy: Security is big challenge ahead of vote

Security will be a key challenge to Afghanistan's parliamentary
elections next month, warns the top United Nations envoy in the country.

"We all know that security challenges will be a significant obstacle and we must ensure that poor security in parts of the country is not used to manipulate the votes of the people," said a statement from Staffan de Mistura, the secretary general's special representative for Afghanistan.


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Filed under: Afghanistan elections
August 12th, 2010
04:52 PM ET

WikiLeaks founder: More documents to come

The founder of WikiLeaks says the whistle-blower website is preparing to release another roughly 15,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan.

"We are about halfway through them," Julian Assange told reporters in London, England, on Thursday. "This is a very expensive process."


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Filed under: WikiLeaks
August 12th, 2010
03:53 PM ET

Questions on July 2011 date dog Petraeus

WASHINGTON — One of the key goals of the new commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, is to try to settle the debate on what the significance is of the July 2011 date, according to an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) official familiar with Petraeus' thinking.

After a month in the job where he stayed mostly out of public view, the general is preparing a round of interviews with media outlets.

The significance of July 2011 in the Afghanistan war continues to be a question that the administration is struggling to answer clearly.

U.S. military officials are stressing that any withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 could be fairly minor and will be based on conditions on the ground. When asked if the number of troops to be withdrawn in July could be relatively small, a senior U.S. military official told reporters "we still think that's the case." FULL POST

August 12th, 2010
09:26 AM ET

Opinion: Petraeus faces mission impossible

Many hope that Gen. David Petraeus will save the day in Afghanistan, following what they see as his great success in Iraq. His appointment has been met with nearly unqualified praise. ...

When you meet him, it is easy to see why he is so popular. He is well-educated, West Point and Princeton doctorates; politically savvy, no nasty quotes in Rolling Stone or anywhere else; and very personable.

So it distresses me, but I feel feel honor-bound to point out that the Iraq he left behind is in shambles; that he is not applying what worked in Iraq to Afghanistan; and that the challenges there are much more daunting than in Iraq.

Read the full Opinion from Amitai Etzioni, a professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including "Security First" and "New Common Ground."

Filed under: Petraeus • Voices • Your View
August 12th, 2010
09:24 AM ET

Group: Outside fighters killed aid workers

The deaths of 10 medical aid workers in northeastern Afghanistan last week appear to be the work of insurgents from outside that remote corner of the country, an international humanitarian aid organization said Thursday.

"Our own research suggests that the murders were not a robbery as initially reported in the press," said a statement from the International Assistance Mission. "We are now working on the assumption that the attack was an opportunistic ambush by a group of nonlocal fighters." FULL POST

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Filed under: Civilian deaths
August 12th, 2010
09:23 AM ET

Photo spotlight: Ramadan begins

Afghans pray on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday in Kabul, Afghanistan. Muslims all over the world are supposed to go without food, drink, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan in order to purify themselves and concentrate their mind on Islamic teachings.

More from CNN's Belief blog: Why Ramadan?

Filed under: Life and Culture
August 12th, 2010
09:21 AM ET

Firefight kills civilian woman in Helmand

An Afghan woman was shot and killed during a firefight between coalition forces and insurgents in the country's south, NATO's International Security Assistance Force reported Thursday.   Afghan and coalition forces came under small-arms fire Wednesday in the Musa Qal' ah district of Helmand province when they fired back at the insurgents, hitting the woman.

"We must continue our emphasis on reducing the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum," said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres. "We know that success will be determined by our ability to protect the people of Afghanistan."

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Filed under: Civilian deaths • Helmand
August 12th, 2010
09:20 AM ET

Taliban rejects U.N. report on Afghan casualties

The Taliban on Thursday rejected a United Nations report that blamed it and other insurgent groups for 76 percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the report, released Tuesday, was part of a Pentagon decision to create a propaganda campaign against the Taliban, accusing the group of attacks on civilians. He said the campaign is aimed at turning the people against the Taliban, and he said the Taliban reject that. FULL POST