More than 1,522 American service members have died as U.S. plans to end combat operations in 2014
Violence in Afghanistan continues following Obama speech (MSNBC TV, June 26, 2011) – A suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday comes on the heels of President Obama’s announcement of an American military drawdown in that country. Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey discusses the situation. (03:54)
By Patrick Quinn
June 26, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — For 10 years, ever since the towers fell, the United States has fought a war in a distant land — in hopes, it says, of protecting American interests and making the world safer from terrorism. Now, as President Barack Obama plans to end U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan by 2014, the question remains as muddy as ever:
What happened here?
There have been victories — and setbacks. More than 1,522 American service members have died [link added]. There has been talk of a more stable, safer Afghanistan and frequent, obvious evidence to the contrary [link added]. The country’s president and the United States share an uneasy relationship [link added], and it’s difficult to tell the story of the past decade in a single, concise statement. …
America’s chapter in Afghanistan’s struggle is drawing to a close. President Barack Obama has said he will withdraw a third of nearly 100,000 U.S. troops by next summer and end combat operations in 2014 — with or without even a semblance of a lasting success.
Much work remains unfinished even after almost a decade of war and billions of dollars in aid [link added]. Although battered, the insurgents still control large swaths of the country, and it is nearly impossible to travel safety from the capital to the southern city of Kandahar. …
In announcing the timetable, Obama spoke of building a “partnership with the Afghan people that endures” long after the last American service member has gone home. His words were aimed at reassuring the Afghans that America would not abandon them.
That pledge was reminiscent of the Soviet assurances to their Afghan clients when they, like the British a century before, concluded that fighting in Afghanistan wasn’t worth the cost in blood and treasure and withdrew in 1989.
Moscow left behind a friendly government and a well-equipped Afghan army. Three years later, that government collapsed, the army fell apart and the country was again engulfed in war. …
Even with troop reductions, the United States is facing huge expenses if it sticks by Obama’s plan. Building and funding a 300,000-member Afghan army and police will cost an estimated $6 billion to $8 billion a year even after 2014. The U.S. already paid $22 billion in 2010 and 2011 to train and equip the Afghans.
The dilemma is that without such an investment, Afghanistan could again slip into civil war as it did when the Soviets left 22 years ago. Preventing that will require not only a strong security force but a power-sharing agreement among the numerous ethnic groups, including the Pashtuns from whom the Taliban draw their strength. …
With such a complex ethnic and political landscape, few believe Afghanistan will enjoy peace anytime soon.
Optimists hope the level of violence can be reduced and the fighting limited to small areas around the country. …
Pessimists, including many Afghans, fear that once the foreign troops leave, the country will descend into a new civil war. …
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A U.S. armored military vehicle is parked near a building that was attacked by Taliban fighters in Kandahar on May 8, 2011. Afghan security forces clashed with militants in Kandahar for a second day after the Taliban unleashed a major assault on government buildings in the southern city. (Photo credit: Allauddin Khan / AP)
Obama Hell-Bent on Afghanistan Pull-Out (June 25, 2011)
Civilian Carnage in Afghanistan (June 14, 2011)
Soldiers Pose with Afghan Corpse (March 21, 2011)
Afghanistan ‘Tom and Jerry’ War (Jan. 4, 2011)
One American Dies Every 18 Hours in Afghanistan (Jan. 1, 2011)
‘Limited Chance of Success’ in Afghanistan (Dec. 15, 2010)
Afghanistan Worn-Out Welcome (Nov. 21, 2010)
Afghan War Set to Drag On (Nov. 17, 2010)
Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010)
10th Year of War in Afghanistan (Oct. 7, 2010)
Afghan War Deadlier Than Ever (July 31, 2010)
At least three suicide bombers enter Inter-Continental, NBC News reports
Suicide bombers strike Kabul hotel (MSNBC TV, June 28, 2011) – At least three suicide bombers strike in a coordinated attack inside the Inter-Continental hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. (00:43)
The Associated Press and MSNBC.com
June 28, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — At least three suicide bombers blew themselves up late Tuesday inside a Western-style hotel in Afghanistan’s capital, police told NBC News. A guest said he heard gunfire echoing throughout the building.
Reporters at the scene heard bursts of gunfire and saw shooting from the roof of the five-story Inter-Continental hotel that sits on a hill overlooking the city. Police ordered bystanders to lie on the ground for safety. There was no immediate word on casualties in the rare, nighttime attack in the city.
The attack began when a suicide vehicle blew up the front gate of the hotel, NBC News reported. Then, six suicide bombers entered the restaurant and three exploded their bombs.
A firefight was ongoing, Afghan police told NBC News. Three of the suicide bombers reportedly have not been found. Other reports indicate more suicide bombers may be alive.
Police told NBC News that no known Westerners were in the hotel at the time; the occupants were mainly Afghan governors from various provinces in town for a government meeting on Wednesday.There was also wedding party in the hotel at the time. …
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press.
The Inter-Continental — known widely as the “Inter-Con” — was once part of an international chain. But when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the hotel, was left to fend for itself.
The hotel, used by Western journalists during the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has been targeted before. On Nov. 23, 2003, a rocket exploded nearby, shattering windows but causing no casualties. …
Other hotels in the capital have also been targeted. In January 2008, militants stormed the capital’s most popular luxury hotel, the Serena, hunting down Westerners who cowered in a gym during a coordinated assault that killed eight people. An American, a Norwegian journalist and a Philippine woman were among the dead.
Attacks in the Afghan capital have been relatively rare, although violence has increased since the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid in Pakistan [link added] and the start of the Taliban’s annual spring offensive [link added].
On June 18, insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms stormed a police station near the presidential palace and opened fire on officers, killing nine.
Late last month, a suicide bomber wearing an Afghan police uniform infiltrated the main Afghan military hospital, killing six medical students. A month before that, a suicide attacker in an army uniform sneaked past security at the Afghan Defense Ministry, killing three people. …
Real-time updates on the attack from breakingnews.com
Attack at Kabul hotel deflates security hopes in Afghanistan (New York Times, June 29, 2011) – Women and children screamed. Chairs tipped backward. Food slid onto the lawn as people started to run. Mr. Amini said he saw police officers running, too, tightly gripping their own AK-47s as they raced away from the gunmen. “I said, ‘Why don’t you shoot? Shoot!’ ” he recalled. “But they just said, ‘Get away from them.’ And we all ran together.” … [For] the hotel guests, many of whom jumped over the perimeter walls, plunged into irrigation ditches or cowered in closets to escape the attackers, the police response was not only slow, but also cowardly. Several witnesses said police officers ran away or refused to shoot. … “Forty-five countries have troops here, but security is still fragile — you cannot serve dinner in one of the largest and most secure restaurants in Kabul,” [Nazir Amini] said. “Now we are hearing about a security transition to Afghan forces,” he added. “If they give the security responsibility to the current government at 10:00 a.m., the government will collapse around 12 noon. … Full story
Related reports on this site
Taliban Strikes in Heart of Kabul (Feb. 26, 2010)
Taliban Siege Rattles Kabul (Jan. 19, 2010)
Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009)
Afghan War Closes in on Kabul (Oct. 28, 2009)
Mumbai-Like Strike in Kabul (Feb. 12, 2009)
In Afghanistan, a growing number of insider attacks (NBC Nightly News, Oct. 3, 2012) – Joint US-Afghan operations are becoming more common, and so are the risks. NBC’s Lester Holt reports. (03:06)
October 4, 2012
KABUL — Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday that the U.S.-led war on militancy would “not be successful,” and accused Western media of waging “psychological warfare” on his country [by suggesting it would fall apart after the NATO withdrawal and that the Taliban would likely return to power].
The outgoing leader said U.S. efforts to defeat the Taliban would fail “from Afghanistan’s view” because it was being fought in Afghan villages, rather than against insurgents based in neighboring countries – an apparent allusion to Pakistan. …
Afghan president orders U.S. forces out of Wardak province (NBC Nightly News, Feb. 24, 2013) – NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski joins Lester Holt to discuss the latest on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s order that U.S. forces be removed from Wardak province over allegations of torture and disappearances. (01:26)
By Hasani Gittens
February 24, 2013
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has ordered that all U.S. special forces must leave Wardak province, just west of Kabul, within two weeks — citing allegations of disappearances and torture.
In a statement Sunday, a spokesman for Karzai said, “after a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special forces stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.”
Karzai’s office cited a “recent example” in which nine people allegedly “disappeared” and a separate incident where a student was taken from his home in the middle of the night and whose tortured body was found two days later under a bridge with his throat cut.
U.S. defense officials strongly deny that military personnel condoned, or were involved in, any kidnappings, torture or murders of Afghan civilians or suspects. …
Military officials told NBC News that Karzai’s order came as a total surprise. The province is one of the hottest combat zones in Afghanistan and is a strategically important area because it is seen as the gateway the Taliban uses to carry out attacks in Kabul, the war-torn nation’s capital. …
In their statement, the Afghan government noted that “Americans reject having conducted any such operation,” but also noted “that such actions have caused local public resentment and hatred.”
President Barack Obama announced during his State of the Union address earlier this month that 34,000 American troops — about half of the total U.S. force in Afghanistan — will leave the country by the end of this year.
Traffic moves through the old city in November, 2012, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images)
By Mike Taibbi
March 4, 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan — I wondered, approaching Kabul over the snow-shrouded Hindu Kush mountains, what the story of the moment would be in the teeming city below.
It had been six years since I’d last visited Afghanistan’s capital, a short visit then that included an interview with President Hamid Karzai as part of the last of six long reporting assignments since 9/11 — that one stretching from Paktika and Gardez in the southeast to Herat in the west.
More than 11 years had passed since my first Afghan assignment, over the Kyber Pass from Pakistan and then into Jalalabad days after the Taliban had fled; the arc of America’s longest war.
“Not much different,” offered my seatmate, a senior NATO official from one of the 40 countries remaining in the coalition that has alternately steered or suffered through Afghanistan’s bloody march toward stand-alone status as a reconstituted nation.
“You’ll see some new construction under way in the city, but on the surface it’ll be little changed from what you saw before.”
Driving to our quarters, I found myself playing an old game: peering at the cars huffing and puffing along the city’s crowded streets, I counted the number of women drivers. And got the same answer I’d counted on most days, 11 years ago.
Over 50 killed in Afghan compound attack (NBCNews.com, April 3, 2013) – More than 50 people were killed in a militant attack on a government compound in western Afghanistan. NBCNews.com’s Ron Allen reports. (00:44)
By John Newland
April 3, 2013
At least 54 people were killed and 90 others wounded Wednesday in an insurgent attack on a government compound in western Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters were facing trial, local officials said.
Nine insurgents with explosives strapped to their bodies stormed the compound in Farah province, bordering Iran, Reuters reported. Explosions were followed by protracted gun battles.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Among the dead were 35 civilians, 10 members of the Afghan Security Forces and the nine suicide attackers, Mohammad Akram Khpalwalk, governor of Farah province, said.
Most of the 90 to 95 people wounded were civilians, said Dr. Abdul Jabaar, the head of the hospital where victims were taken.
The attack was the deadliest single assault in the country since 2011. …
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