Parliamentary elections in Afghanistan are scheduled for May 22, the country's Independent Election Commission announced this weekend.
Critics say the date does not give the country enough time to implement reform and put checks in place, after the August 2009 presidential elections were marred by violence and allegations of corruption before Hamid Karzai was declared president.
The date announcement comes the same weekend that the Parliament rejected 17 cabinet members proposed by Karzai. The rejection of 17 proposed cabinet members will not stop international community donations or the U.N. mission to Afghanistan, said U.N. spokesman Aleem Siddique at a news conference Monday. He said the United Nations is prepared to help with Afghanistan's upcoming parliamentary elections if asked, he said, adding there had not yet been a request.
What do you think? Do you think Afghanistan should delay the parliamentary elections over fears of possible fraud and violence or should the nation go ahead with the vote?
Yesterday's post on Rep. Ike Skelton's letter raising concerns about jamming M4s and restricting plastic straps on soldiers' rucksacks kicked up some pretty interesting comments on the way purchasing is handled for U.S. troops. We heard from several soldiers, Marines, and civilians on the issue. Mike says "Don't totally blame the military on this one, most of the blame is on the congress and how they fund the military." And commenter Adam wonders if the Pentagon's focus on larger weapons such as "$2 billion each for a B-2, $300 million for an F-22" has distracted from funding troops on the ground. Meanwhile, David states that "the M4 is a fine combat weapon. Soldiers begged to have M4s in lieu of M16A2s in 2003-2004, Soldiers will always complain about something. "
What do you think? Are U.S. troops on the ground getting what they need? Is Congress doing enough to ensure they have the right equipment? And is the American public willing to foot the tax bill to pay for it all?
Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, face Congressional hearings on Tuesday about Obama's Afghanistan strategy. McChrystal told the House Armed Services Committee early in the hearing that the next 18 months will be "critical" in the war in that country. "I believe the next 18 months are critical, especially in the eyes of the Afghan people and the insurgency. I believe for these 18 months we're going to make tremendous progress ... while we simultaneously grow the Afghan capacity to provide for long-term security," McChrystal said.
What do you think? What will be the most critical part of the plan in the next 18 months? Can the strategy succeed?
Since Tuesday night, the strategy debate's been on - Reader Stanley Scott writes, "I do not agree with the President on this one because he has been misinformed. This war does not require more troops to achieve stability in Afghanistan." While Carol writes, "Yes, it will work if we ever give this President a chance. He is smart and honest and has the best interest of this country at heart."
Even before President Obama formally announced his plan for Afghanistan, the debate over whether it was the correct strategy was well under way. Obama said the plan has three objectives: Denying al Qaeda a safe haven; reversing the Taliban's momentum; and strengthening the Afghan government.
What do you think? Will the plan work? Does the strategy have the correct objectives?
President Obama announced his U.S. troop strategy for Afghanistan in a speech at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the speech, Obama explained why the United States is in Afghanistan, its interests there and his decision-making process, in addition to his strategy for a "successful conclusion."
All day, CNN has asked its readers and viewers, how would you define success in Afghanistan?
Reader Paul Marshall writes: "Success in Afghanistan, for the previous administration meant staying as long as possible and giving their cronies no bid contracts and robing the treasury. For Obama success would be getting the hell out." Meanwhile reader Phyllis Sanders says, "Please give our President the support he needs, I know that I will."
What do you think? How do you think the government should define success? How would you define success in Afghanistan?
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Editor’s Note: Nasim Fekrat started blogging in 2004 in Afghanistan, where he grew up. On the Afghan Lord blog, he aims to show a complete picture of Afghanistan – not only its problems but also the culture, art, music and life of the country. He is now a student at Dickinson College in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Nasim Fekrat.
After a long debate over increasing troops in Afghanistan, finally, President Obama said that he has decided to send around 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. Now, deploying 30,000 troops to Afghanistan is a good idea but I’m doubtful that this will work as a long-term strategy to “finish the job.” A long-term strategy to mitigate the violence and end the war in Afghanistan is to train and equip the Afghan National Army. FULL POST
As President Obama's decision on Afghanistan troop levels approaches, iReporters have been sharing passionate views, starting an ongoing conversation on what the U.S. strategy should be going forward.
Some like Katy Brown of Kent, Ohio, have said that more troops should be sent there because that is what the generals have requested. Others, like Jose Colon of San Juan, Puerto Rico, believe that the U.S. has other priorities to deal with at home and the troops should be brought home. Hao Li of Los Angeles says that there should be less of a military focus in Afghanistan, and a shift towards winning the hearts and minds of the populace.
Is it time for a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan or send in more troops? What do you think the U.S. should do next? How is President Obama handling the decision?
iReporters Katy Brown and Egberto Willies square off on Obama's looming decision over the military and political course the nation should take. Watch the iReporters debate
What about you? What do you think? Send in your iReport and share your thoughts on video.