News Summary - September 15, 2010

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In today’s news: Staffan de Mistura acknowledges elections “are not going to be perfect” but suggests they will be “much better than the previous ones”. IEC reports discovery of forged voter cards in Ghazni but says it will not be possible to use them on election day. New anti-corruption prosecutions have “ground to a halt”, NYT reports. Afghan Central Bank will retain control over Kabul Bank leadership “for the forseeable future”.

Afghanistan — Elections

  • Election Security and Preparations: Three campaign workers for candidate Abbas Ibrahimzada in Balkh province were reportedly wounded in attacks by Taliban forces yesterday. Pres. Karzai chaired a meeting of the NATO, UN, and US military and civilian leadership to discuss final preparations for the vote, which takes place this Saturday. UN special representative Staffan de Mistura told a news conference that “These elections, we can say already in advance, are not going to be perfect... but based on the preparations by Afghan authorities, we are feeling that they are going to be much better than the previous ones." Amid reports of fake voter cards being printed in neighboring Pakistan, the head of the IEC said that it had confiscated 3,000 forged voting cards in Ghazni province but vowed that “it will not be possible to use them” in the elections. [TOLO] [Office of the President] [Reuters] [BBC] [TOLO] [Di Mistura and IEC Transcript]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Southern Operations: NATO said that it had killed up to 30 insurgent fighters in separate operations in  Helmand, Wardak and Zabul provinces on Tuesday. The LA Times reports on a push by several hundred U.S. and Afghan forces into the Zhari district west of Kandahar on Wednesday in one of the biggest troop actions there to date. Gen. Petraeus tells NPR that operations in Kandahar will be “more nuanced”. [AP] [LAT] [NPR]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karzai and Anti-Corruption Efforts: New corruption investigations have “ground to a halt” since the arrest and subsequent presidential intervention and release of Mohammad Zia Salehi. The Afghan Attorney General says he has cancelled American-sponsored raises for Afghan prosecutors in the Major Crimes Task Force and Sensitive Investigation Unit. A decree by Karzai to clarify the legal basis for the units has yet to be published. “The discussion on corruption, in essence, is really a discussion about our relationship with Karzai,” an Obama administration official tells the Times, which reports the White House is considering assenting to direct control for Karzai over anti-corruption efforts. In an interview with ABC News on Tuesday, General Petraeus praised Mr. Karzai’s efforts to fight corruption and said an American anticorruption campaign should not “be seen to threaten the sovereignty of the Afghan government.”  [NYT] [ABC]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Kabul Bank: The Afghan Central Bank has started investigations into the former CEO and director of Kabul Bank, the BBC reports; the Central Bank director, Abdul Qadir Fitrat, said that it would continue to hold control over Kabul Bank “for the foreseeable future." The NYT reports a slow in the rate of withdrawals to normal levels for the first time since the crisis began. [BBC] [Guardian] [NYT]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Taliban Spokesman: Mullah Omar is in Afghanistan [PakTribune]
  • Interview: Ex-NDS Chief Saleh on the Taliban [NPR]
  • Report: Militancy and Conflict in Helmand [Jean MacKenzie, New America Foundation]
  • Report: Militancy and Conflict in Zabul and Uruzgan [Martine van Bijlert, New America Foundation]
  • Commentary: Literacy As a Matter of Life and Death - “The #1 challenge to building a self-sustaining Afghan National Security Force that can serve and protect its people, and thereby transition into the lead for security, is developing professionalism within its ranks.” [Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, HuffPo]
  • Commentary: A Strategy for Afghanistan - “The best way forward is to adopt a containment and deterrence policy that addresses the international terrorist threat from the Afghanistan/Pakistan border regions.” [Jon Chipman, NYT]