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Entries in Hamid Karzai (45)


Afghanistan: Oops! "Taliban Leader" in Peace Talks is An Imposter (Filkins/Gall)

NOTE: Not an Actual Photo of the ImpostorFor an intriguing follow-up assignment, consider: How did this story come to the reporters' attention and why?

For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

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Afghanistan: Almost 1 in 10 Winning Parliamentary Candidates Disqualified (Boone)

Almost one in 10 of Afghanistan's victorious parliamentary candidates were disqualified for cheating today after an investigation into widespread fraud during September's election.

Twenty-one candidates were stripped of their win by the electoral complaints commission (ECC) for "irregularities, usage of fake votes and the influence of provincial officials". The disqualifications will heighten tensions in the country with the publication of the final election results only days away.

It is more than two months since Afghans went to the polls for only the second time to elect MPs. The results are likely to dramatically reduce the influence of Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group, who have traditionally dominated Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan Latest: US and NATO Move Towards Perpetual Commitment 

Success/withdrawal is dead. Long live the new date for success/non-withdrawal.

The amnesia in most of the reporting on this week's NATO summit on Afghanistan is quite remarkable. No one mentions that, only weeks ago, President Obama's policy was for a total pull-out of US combat forces by July 2011. Instead the assumption --- pushed by the US military --- was now established: troops would remain until 2014.

And now, even more remarkably, the media is pulled along with yet another narrative: "NATO and American officials also warned that if Afghanistan had not made sufficient progress in managing its own security, 2014 was not a hard and fast deadline for the end of combat operations."

It will be a perpetual transition.

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Afghanistan Analysis: Petraeus Hits Back at Karzai

So is the dispute between the Afghan Government and the US military serious or is it just a political show?

A day after President Hamid Karzai used The Washington Post to express his opposition to the current high-visibility US military presence, General David Petraeus, the commander of American forces, sent out his public-relations allies. According to "Afghan and US officials", Petraeus expressed "astonishment" and "disappointment" with the Post interview. He had warned Government advisors that the Karzai criticism threatened to undermine progress in the war and risked making the commander's position "untenable".

Specifically, Petraeus did not attend a scheduled meeting Sunday with Karzai. Instead he sought out Ashraf Ghani, who leads the Afghan government's planning on transition (and who has been a long-time favourite of Washington), to talk "hypothetical[ly]" of an inability to continue US operations.

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Afghanistan Latest: Karzai Criticises US Military --- Posture or Opposition? (Partlow)

It is far from unprecedented for Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to come out publicly against US military operations. He did so, for example, when American aerial bombing brought civilian casualties.

Still, this latest criticism comes as US commander David Petraeus is loudly spinning the success of the current American counter-insurgency strategy, which relies on the high-profile "offensive" of the American military in central and southern Afghanistan.

So does Karzai have a fundamental problem with the Petraeus strategy or is he just scoring a few political points with his domestic audience?

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Afghanistan Confirmation: US Withdrawing July 2011 Date for Withdrawal (Youssef)

The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama's pledge that he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, administration and military officials have told McClatchy.

The new policy will be on display next week during a conference of NATO countries in Lisbon, Portugal, where the administration hopes to introduce a timeline that calls for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014, the year when Afghan President Hamid Karzai once said Afghan troops could provide their own security.

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Afghanistan Special: Who is Trying to Undermine Possible US-Iran Co-operation?

UPDATE 0940 GMT: President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged that his office has received cash from Iran, but insists it is a "transparent" process. Karzai said he money was not for an individual but to help run the Presidential office.

Karzai added that many countries, including the US, had given similar assistance.


The Obama Administration has long been divided over whether to pursue a "grand settlement" with Tehran on regional issues as well as the nuclear question or to ostracise Iran (or even doing elements of both at the same time). On this occasion, it just so happens that this bureaucratic saga intersects with the mysteries of internal Afghan politics.

If the narrative of "peace talks" continues, this collision will be ongoing. That, rather than the anonymously-spun tale "Iran is Said to Give Top Karzai Aide Cash by The Bagful" in The New York Times, is the real story here.

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Afghanistan: NATO Assists "Taliban Leaders" in Talks with Government (Filkins)

Talks to end the war in Afghanistan involve extensive, face-to-face discussions with Taliban commanders from the highest levels of the group’s leadership, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO troops, officials here say.

The discussions, some of which have taken place in Kabul, are unfolding between the inner circle of President Hamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan. Afghan leaders have also held discussions with leaders of the Haqqani network, considered to be one of the most hard-line guerrilla factions fighting here; and members of the Peshawar shura, whose fighters are based in eastern Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan: Government Peace Council Asks Taliban to Present Conditions for Talks (Pajhwok)

Rahmatullah Afghan reports for Pajhwok Afghan News:

The Afghan government-backed High Peace Council has asked the Taliban to present their conditions that could help the peace process move forward, an official said on Friday.

The Taliban have been asked to provide reasonable conditions for entering a dialogue process with the 70-member peace council, Ataullah Ludin, a member of the council said on Friday.

In early June, as many as 1,200 elders and influential people attended the Peace Advisory Jirga in Kabul. The jirga had called for the creation of a council to ensure the reintegration of Taliban and other anti-government elements into society.

The jirga had asked the government and the international community to pave the ground for talks with all disgruntled individuals and groups. It demanded the formation of a peace council to arrange negotiations with militant groups.

The Taliban, who are waging a bloody insurgency, have rejected the peace council. They have said until foreign soldiers do not leave the country, the group led by Mullah Muhammad Omar, would not talk with the West-baked Afghan government.

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Afghanistan: Kunduz Governor Among 12 Killed in Mosque Bombing (Rubin)

In an audacious attack, insurgents assassinated the governor of Kunduz Province on Friday by bombing the mosque where he attended the weekly Friday Prayer, according to Afghan officials.

The bomb blast killed 12 people and wounded 33 at the main mosque in Taliqan, the capital of Takhar Province, which borders Kunduz.

[AFP puts the death toll at 20.]

The slain governor was Muhammad Omar, a Takhar native who returned there regularly for the Muslim weekend and Friday worship. Mr. Omar, who had survived one other assassination attempt, was believed to have been the target of the attack, said Faiz Muhammad Tawhidi, the spokesman for the Takhar governor.

The assassination underscored the growing capability of the insurgency in northern Afghanistan, which has become increasingly unstable over the past year. Mr. Omar was the third government official in the past two months to be assassinated in the region. In August and September, district governors were killed in Kunduz and Baghlan Provinces.

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