News Summary - September 12, 2010

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In today’s news: Pres. Karzai marks nine-year anniversary of 9/11 with warning against civilian casualties and a call for a focus on “the sources and the orgins of terrorism”. Taliban say U.S. must withdraw their forces from Afghanistan “without any preconditions”. Protests against now-cancelled Quran-burning continue across the country. Afghanistan NGO Safety Office warns of a shrinking space for humanitarian operations in the country.

Afghanistan — Security

  • 9/11 Anniversary: Pres. Karzai issued a statement marking the nine-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks saying that "The villages of Afghanistan are not the origins and the sanctuaries of terrorists... [operations should] focus on the sources and the origins of terrorism." In his Eid address, Karzai called on the Taliban leadership to “join the peace process, give up fratricide, give up bombings and blasts, [and] stop causing casualties to Afghanistan's children, women and men". The Taliban issued their own statement that “despite using all possible military solutions in Afghanistan, [the U.S.] have lost any possible chance for peace" and are ”left with only one option and that is to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan without any preconditions.” [AP] [WAPO] [AJE] [AFP] [Taliban Statement]
  • Quran-Burning Protests: Protests continued for a third day in Afghanistan against the planned burning of the Quran by a Florida church, the pastor of which now says will not take place. Four demonstrators were reportedly seriously wounded when Afghan security forces opened fire in the Logar provincial capital. Reuters continues to report that one protester was shot and killed in the Badakshan capital of Faizabad; the AP had yesterday discounted that report. [Reuters] [AP] [AP] [WSJ]
  • NGO Security: “Humanitarian space is shrinking day by day” in Afghanistan, aid groups tell the NYT; the Afghan NGO Safety Office, one of the few organizations still publicly releasing data on Taliban attacks estimates they initiated at least 1,353 in August alone, up from 630 last August. The insurgency is now active in 33 of 34 provinces; despite military officials’ claims that the violence is a result of stepped-up operations in 80 “key terrain districts” in the south and east, “We do not support the perspective that this constitutes ‘things getting worse before they get better,’ ” said Nic Lee, director of the ANSO, “but rather see it as being consistent with the five-year trend of things just getting worse.” [NYT]

Afghanistan — Elections

  • Candidate Profiles: The Post profiles Robina Jalili, a 25-year old female candidate for parliament in Kabul who competed on Afghanistan’s Olympic track team in 2004 and 2008. [WAPO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • 20 Militants Killed on Afghanistan-Tajikistan Border [AFP]
  • Report: Who Controls the Vote? Afghanistan’s Evolving Elections - “The findings of the report [on the 2009 provincial council elections] suggest that this year candidates and local IEC staff will revert to the same tactics again, especially in insecure areas and where the contest is fierce.” [Martine van Bijlert, AAN]
  • Commentary: The Afghanistan Study Group Report: An Exercise in Determined Ignorance - “If we choose to leave a war for bad reasons, for reasons that don’t reflect the reality on the ground and that deliberately underestimate the consequences of our policies—which the ASG report certainly does—then we are only dooming ourselves to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.” [Joshua Foust, Registan]