Wednesday, January 27, 2010
A conference on Afghanistan scheduled for this coming Thursday is expected to address ways that the U.S. and NATO allies might move forward on talks with the Taliban. The ideas run the gamut from striking certain Taliban leaders from a list of terror suspects to allowing the Taliban to form an above-board political party. Fotini Christia, professor of political science at MIT, joins us with her thoughts.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Earlier this week we made a comparison between the Vietnam War and the current U.S. war in Afghanistan. One of our listeners responded with a rebuttal. Jonaid Sharif said we were
"comparing the Taliban — vicious and medieval — to the Viet Cong, who were fighting for progress and national liberation ... The Viet Cong were supported by half of the world ... I have yet to come across anyone who openly endorses the Taliban."
Today we look at Afghanistan from an Afghan perspective. Jonaid Sharif is a professor at Paine College in Augusta, Ga., where he teaches Pashto language. He is himself Afghan-American. We're also joined by Christine Fair, a professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University; and Lyse Doucet, BBC Correspondent in Kabul.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Fresh from a presidential election marred by accusations of fraud, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he’ll work to eradicate the corruption which has “tainted” his country and government. In his first comments since being declared the winner, Karzai also said his new government would ask those he called his “Taliban brothers” to take part in peace talks. The Taliban responded, calling Karzai a puppet and saying they would continue their fight. We talk with the BBC’s Ian Pannell, who is watching developments unfold in Kabul.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Details are still coming in from a suicide bombing against U.N. forces that left nine dead in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday. To find out what life is like in the city right now, we talk to two civilians: American ex-pat Sarah Chayes, who works with NATO, and Fareedoone, a 25-year old Afghan university student in Kabul. We also speak with Afghanistan expert Michael Semple to find out if yesterday's attack signals a shift in tactics — is the Taliban now deliberately targeting civilians?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Six staff members of the United Nations were killed and another nine wounded in an armed attack on a central Kabul guesthouse this morning. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was the first step in a campaign to prevent the upcoming runoff in the nation's presidential election. This attack comes hard on the heels of yesterday's attacks that killed eight American troops in multiple bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan. The deaths make October the deadliest month for American troops there since the war began in 2001. We speak to BBC correspondent David Loyn, the author of "In Afghanistan: Two Hundred Years of British, Russian and American Occupation," about the state of the international effort in Afghanistan. We're also joined by New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, with an update on the president's decision on whether or not to send additional troops to the embattled nation.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday was one of the deadliest for American forces since the war in Afghanistan began. Two separate helicopter crashes killed 14 Americans. One collision killed three U.S. drug enforcement agents in addition to seven troops. The Taliban were quick to say they shot down the U.S. helicopter, but a spokesman for the NATO-led forces denied any insurgent involvement.
We look at how Afghans make sense of these competing versions of events with Saad Mohseni, director of TOLO TV, a popular private TV channel in Afghanistan, and Lt. Col. Shawn Stroud, former director of strategic communication at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center.
"The new strategy....was to take the focus off the farmers and to put it on the drug traffickers. There are thousands and thousands of people growing poppy and they're actually at the low-end of the totem pole in the drugs trade. They are actually the victims of it: in many cases forced to grow it or they have no alternatives. The drug traffickers are really the bad guys."
—Gretchen Peters, author of "Seeds of Terror," on shifting the focus to the drug traffickers supporting the Afghan drug trade
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Hakimullah Mehsud is the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban. He's an enemy of Pakistan and, by extension, the United States. However, to some in his own ranks he is a hero: a young Pashtun willing to stake everything on upholding the Taliban's cause. BBC Urdu correspondent Haroon Rashid has met Hakimullah Mehsud many times and offers us a profile of the apparently charismatic young leader.
The following clip is in Pashto, but the images of Hakimullah Mehsud are fascinating in any language:
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
After weeks of international pressure, Afghanistan announced that it will now hold a run-off presidential election. But the November 7 date gives the country less than three weeks to organize the nationwide vote. We look at the challenges the country will face to hold another election in such a short time, and what it will mean for incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, with Christine Fair, professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University. Fair is also a former election monitor in Afghanistan. We also talk to Emal Pasarly, deputy head of the Pashtu Service at the BBC; and from Afghanistan, Daoud Sultanzoy, an Independent Member of Parliament for Ghazni Province, in Eastern Afghanistan.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Violence is on the rise in Pakistan. Twelve days of attacks across the country have left well over 150 people dead, and there are no signs yet that security forces are going to be able to beat back the militants. A suicide car bombing targeted a police station in the city of Peshawar this morning. The BBC's Aleem Maqbool joins us from Islamabad, Pakistan.
And directly next door, in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has denied allegations of fraud in the recent presidential election and claimed he won a simple majority of votes. Now, according to Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, the election results may turn out to show no single victor, meaning a run-off election could be announced shortly. She joins us with a look at the potential run-off and the political problem this would pose for the Obama Administration.
For more, read Elisabeth Bumiller's article, "Karzai Aide Says Afghan Runoff Vote Is Likely," in today's New York Times.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
BBC correspondent Adam Mynott joins us with a report on increasing violence in Pakistan. Earlier today, eleven people were killed when a car bomb exploded near a police station in the northwestern town of Kohat. Pakistan's second-largest city, Lahore, was recently the site of clashes between police and suspected militants who attacked a federal security building and other police training centers, killing at least 21 people. The latest attacks came days after a militant raid on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Continuing our conversation about whether or not the Obama Adminstration is looking to focus war efforts in Afghanistan on al-Qaida, rather than the Taliban, we talk with Loretta Napoleoni in London. She is an expert on international terrorist financing and author of the book "Rogue Economics."
“Fighting this war in Afghanistan may not be the best option. Maybe we have to fight the war somewhere else, where the Taliban are raising money — which is, of course, in the streets of our city, where they are selling heroin that is supporting this new army of Taliban.”
—Loretta Napoleoni, expert on international terrorist financing and author of the book "Rogue Economics"
Thursday, October 08, 2009
The United Nations Security Council will vote today to reauthorize the mandate for international forces in Afghanistan. Forty-two countries have troops in Afghanistan in numbers small and large, ranging from Singapore's two soldiers to Britain's 9,000. We're spending the week on the now eight-year-old war in Afghanistan; today we look at the role international forces are playing and how well U.S. forces and international allies are working together. Evelyn Farkas is a senior fellow with the American Security Project, a public policy organization. She was part of a NATO delegation with the International Security Assistance Force that just returned from Afghanistan this week. We also speak to BBC defense and security correspondent Nick Childs in London, and BBC correspondent Tristana Moore in Berlin.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
A message from the Taliban is being heard almost everywhere across Afghanistan. It's from a militant denouncing the evils of the Afghan government and its corrupt officials. The message says that if the Afghan people want justice, only the Taliban can deliver it. For more we go live to Afghanistan, to Martin Patience, Kabul correspondent for our partner, the BBC. We also speak to Christine Fair, from the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University; and Spc. Marco Reininger, spokesperson for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Today marks the eighth anniversary of the U.S. sending troops to Afghanistan. To help mark the occasion we get the personal stories of three veterans of that war: Joe Sturm, Marco Reininger and Genevieve Chase.
On Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the U.S. military would be making strikes against al-Qaida targets and Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan. By November 2001, the U.S.-backed military alliance had taken Kabul. By December 7, the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar had fallen. Eight years later we are still there. There are currently 68,000 troops in Afghanistan, and 869 American lives have been lost since the beginning.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The BBC's Kate Clark joins us with a look at one aspect of the Taliban that you don't see that often: their day jobs. So-called "weekend Jihadists" are members of Afghan society — civil servants, office workers, even police officers — who spend their days at the office and join the Taliban on the weekends. These weekend warriors are blurring the lines between civilians and Taliban militants and complicating the fight for American troops under orders not to fire on civilians.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Preliminary tallies in the second-ever Afghan presidential election show incumbent President Hamid Karzai leading in the polls with 55% of the votes. But the cloud of suspicions about the election is not going away; yesterday, European Union monitors estimated that one third of the votes for Hamid Karzai are suspect. The Karzai campaign dismissed the EU findings, and the latest official results show that he has enough votes to win without a run-off — if the disputed votes are included. Rand Corporation's Christine Fair was an election monitor in Afghanistan and she joins us with a look at how the United States will respond to the mounting evidence of electoral fraud.
Friday, September 11, 2009
On September 20th, 2001, President George Bush told the American public to expect a lengthy campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In the eight years since, however, the war in Afghanistan has turned into a campaign longer and stranger than even those predictions. President Bush's initial resolve has given way to skepticism among many and has created a huge headache for President Obama. Charlie Sennott, executive editor of GlobalPost, joins us with a look back at Afghanistan over the past eight years, as well as current election news there. He has covered Afghanistan and the Taliban since the mid-nineties.