Streams

 

Taliban

The Takeaway

Senator Russ Feingold on Afghanistan

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, states that the situation in Afghanistan is "deteriorating" ... and signs of this decline have been showing up more and more clearly. Despite the massive military operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province and a heavy military presence throughout the nation, violence continues to increase.  Just yesterday, a suicide bomber east of Kabul, in Laghman province, killed a top intelligence officer and 23 others.

While U.S., Afghan and NATO coalition forces continue fighting Taliban members, the difficulties have led American military commanders in Afghanistan to make a case for more troops. But Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) sits on the Senate's Foreign Services and Intelligence Committees and has been calling for the opposite – and he's not alone. There are calls from both the left and the right to start making plans to reduce the boots on the ground.

"I am making sure I get inoculated from all illnesses by going to town meetings."
—Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc) on how he is preparing for a resurgence of H1N1

Click through for a transcript of our conversation with Sen. Feingold.

Comments [3]

The Takeaway

Taliban Attacks, Pakistan Responds

Monday, August 31, 2009

In Pakistan, local and state authorities were challenged by a spate of attacks over the weekend. NATO oil tankers were set ablaze along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a suicide bomber struck a group of volunteer policemen in the Swat valley, leaving 17 dead, according to reports from Associated Press.  Pakistan's law enforcement say they've responded with a new offensive that has killed at least 30 members of the Taliban.

The border region is considered the main arterial route between Afghanistan and Pakistan. What can be discerned from these events about the ongoing fight against the Pakistani Taliban? Here to lay it out for us is Marvin Weinbaum, a scholar at the Middle East Institute and former State Department analyst on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Comment

The Takeaway

Afghan Elections Still a Work in Progress

Friday, August 21, 2009

Candace Rondeaux is a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group; she specializes in Afghanistan and joins us from Kabul where she has been closely observing the recent presidential election. There have only been two such elections since the overthrow of the Taliban and the country is still working the kinks out of its brand-new electoral process. While the votes are still being counted, both leading contenders – incumbent President Hamid Karzai and leading challenger Abdullah Abdullah – are claiming they've won an outright majority and saying there is no need for a run off election.

Comment

The Takeaway

Both Leading Afghan Candidates Assert Victory

Friday, August 21, 2009

Despite threats of violence from the Taliban, Afghans headed to the polls yesterday to vote in the country's second-ever presidential election. The votes are still being counted, but both of the leading candidates, incumbent Hamid Karzai and ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, are claiming victory. Brian Katulis, an election monitor with Democracy International, joins us from Kabul to discuss observers' efforts to ensure a fair election.

Comment

The Takeaway

Afghan Polls to Delay Close

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Afghan authorities have decided to keep the polls open for an extra hour to allow more people to vote during the nation's second presidential election since the fall of the Taliban. Militants have launched minor attacks across the country in an attempt to disrupt the election. For an update from the scene in Kandahar, we talk to Sarah Chayes, special advisor to Gen. Stanley McChrystal.  (McChrystal is currently running the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan.) We are also joined by long-time journalist Charlie Sennott who is the executive editor of GlobalPost. Charlie's extensive reporting on the Taliban has just been released in a special report: Life, Death, and the Taliban.

Comment

The Takeaway

Kabul Braces for Potential Violence

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet speaks with us from Kabul, Afghanistan, where the city is preparing for only the second presidential election since the overthrow of the Taliban. Afghans are bracing for violence, as the Taliban has threatened to harm anyone who votes. The Taliban has already rocked the capital city this week with suicide bombings and a rocket attack on the presidential palace.

Comment

The Takeaway

The Taliban's Web Presence

Monday, August 10, 2009

Maybe the best place to see how the Taliban are responding to the reported death of their leader in Pakistan, and the August 20 elections in Afghanistan is the Internet. Joining The Takeaway for a close reading of the Taliban's website is Shir Aqa Karimi, senior reporter for the BBC Pashtu Service.

Comment

The Takeaway

Taliban Leader: Dead or Alive?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was reportedly killed by a U.S. missile strike on Wednesday, but some members of the Pakistani Taliban are insisting that their leader is still alive. Nicholas Schmidle, of New America Foundation, and Christine Fair with the RAND Corporation sift through the conflicting information.

Comment

The Takeaway

Pakistan's Enemy No. 1, Dead?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Unconfirmed reports have trickled in that Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud may have been killed in a U.S. drone attack. Now, two Taliban fighters are saying that Mehsud is in fact dead and that the Taliban leaders are trying to determine which of his top deputies will replace him. The U.S. government made killing or capturing Mr. Mehsud one of its top priorities this year. He ranked as Pakistan’s enemy No. 1. For more of the story, The Takeaway turns to Jeremy Binnie, senior analyst on terrorism and insurgency at Jane's Intelligence Group.

Comment

The Takeaway

Afghanistan: How to Measure the Mission's Success

Friday, August 07, 2009

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has been killed in a U.S. drone attack. While it's not the first time reports of his death have surfaced, the Taliban has confirmed his death. Mehsud is known as Pakistan's most wanted man and has been suspected in the killing of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Does his death mean that the U.S. is closer to success in its mission to rout the Taliban out of Afghanistan and Pakistan? As the American military comes to full strength in the Afghan surge, the Obama administration’s national security team is struggling to come up with specific measurements of progress. David Sanger is the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, and he's writing about the administration attempt to set benchmarks for success in Afghanistan.

Also joining the conversation is Andrew Exum, a fellow with the Center for a New American Security. He served two tours as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He is just back from Afghanistan where he was part of a team of independent analysts whose report is expected to help define the U.S. mission in Afghanistan going forward.

We also speak with retired Colonel Paul Hughes, who is senior program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace. In 2003 he served as the director of the Strategic Policy Office for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He believes that the fates of the missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are completely intertwined and must be closely coordinated.

Comments [1]

The Takeaway

A New Anti-Drug Strategy in Afghanistan

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The U.S. government is deploying dozens of Drug Enforcement Administration agents to Afghanistan in a new kind of anti-drug surge. It's the biggest expansion in DEA history, but will it help? Joining The Takeaway is Gretchen Peters, former Afghanistan and Pakistan correspondent for ABC and author of Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda.

"I have seen video of parents exhaling opium smoke into the mouths of their infants because they don't have any other medicine to give them."
—Gretchen Peters on drug use in Afghanistan

Comment

The Takeaway

The Marines, Battling in Afghanistan

Friday, July 03, 2009

Yesterday almost 4,000 Marines and hundreds of Afghan troops began a major operation into the Helmand province in Southern Afghanistan, the epicenter of the opium producing that is a major source of funding for the Taliban. Joining The Takeaway to talk about the mission in Helmand is Gretchen Peters, former Afghanistan and Pakistan correspondent for ABC and author of Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda. Also joining us after three tours in Afghanistan with British forces is Gordon Mackenzie, a military analyst.

Comment

The Takeaway

Live From Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan

Thursday, July 02, 2009

This morning the U.S. military launched one of the largest offensives in recent U.S. military history in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. The operation against Taliban fighters involves 4,000 Marines and hundreds of Afghani fighters. Joining The Takeaway now is Captain William Pelletier, U.S. military spokesman for the Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, who is joining us from Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.

"It's 110 degrees down here, we are in the Helmand desert, so we had some injuries with Marines that basically needed to be taken back, cooled down and hydrated. But no reports that I've heard.. of 'friendly' casualties. Nobody KIA, fortunately."
— Captain William Pelletier, from Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province

Click through for transcript

Comments [2]

The Takeaway

Operation Khanjar Kicks Off in Afghanistan

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In continuing analysis of the new U.S. military offensive against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, The Takeaway is joined by Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He was also the Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1981 through 1985.

Comment

The Takeaway

In Pakistan, a Secret Hostage Makes His Escape

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Pakistan on Friday, a hostage made an extraordinary escape from his Taliban captors. The hostage was a reporter for our partner The New York Times. David Rohde, a Pulitzer Prize winner, had been held by the Taliban since last November, when he was captured outside Kabul while working on a book about the region. On Friday, Mr. Rohde and an Afghan journalist being held with him climbed over a wall on the second floor of a compound in North Waziristan; their driver, also a prisoner, did not escape. If you didn't know that David Rohde was being held hostage, you aren't alone: The New York Times decided to keep it secret in an effort to protect Mr. Rohde. Bill Keller is the executive editor of The New York Times, and he joins us.

Comment

The Takeaway

Taking on the Taliban

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yesterday a suicide bombing at a luxury hotel in northwestern Pakistan killed 11 people in what the U.N. condemned as a "heinous terrorist attack." In response to such acts, Pakistani villagers are taking up arms against the Taliban in what's being described as a grassroots rebellion. Yesterday the Pakistani army launched a major offensive to support the grassroots rebellion. Joining us now from Pakistan is Chris Morris, the BBC's South Asia correspondent Islamabad who has been covering this ongoing fight.

Comment

The Takeaway

Afghanistan: A Woman Parliamentarian Looks Ahead

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Dr. Roshanak Wardak has a lot of ideas for repairing Afghanistan. She was a practicing physician for thirty years, then traded her stethoscope for a role as a member of Afghanistan's parliament. As one of 68 women in the lower house, she works for women's rights and to rebuild the beleaguered nation's infrastructure, especially schools and hospitals. She just testified before the U.S. Congress about her vision for her country and her work with RethinkAfghanistan.org.

Here is Dr. Wardak and others involved in RethinkAfghanistan

Comment

The Takeaway

Violence in Pakistan

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A huge explosion outside a police building in the Pakistani city of Lahore has killed at least 23 people and injured about 250. Officials said gunmen opened fire from a car which drove up to the building, near the provincial headquarters of Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI. After police returned fire, the car exploded, damaging buildings over a wide radius. Rescue workers are digging through the rubble for survivors. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Taliban militants have threatened retaliation for the government's current offensive in the northwest of the country. For more, we turn to Rob Watson, defense correspondent for the BBC World Service, who is following the story.

Comment

The Takeaway

Pakistan: Life in the Refugee Camps

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday announced more than $100 million in aid to help with the refugee situation in Pakistan. Some two million people have been displaced by anti-Taliban fighting in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, according to the BBC. The government has encouraged refugees to return to their homes and lifted curfews in order to help them, but continuing artillery fire has kept the refugees pinned down. The Takeaway talks with the BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones in Pakistan, who has interviewed some of the displaced people in the camps.

Comment

The Takeaway

Trying to Help Pakistani Refugees

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thousands of people are fleeing the SWAT valley in northwest Pakistan today. The government temporarily lifted a curfew to allow the civilians to flee the intense fighting between government troops and Taliban militants. Thousands of internally displaced civilians — as many as 800,000, says the U.N.— have been living in makeshift refugee camps, where reports say that conditions are harsh. To get the latest on this ongoing crisis, we're joined by Nazes Afroz, South Asia Editor at our partners the BBC.

Our partners at the BBC have a revealing map of the Pakistan conflict. Research by the BBC into the growing strength of Taliban militants in north-western Pakistan shows that only around one-third of the area remains under full government control.

Comment