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Afghanistan War Weekly, June 13, 2011

As the fighting season continues in Afghanistan, the level of violence remained very high this past week. Meanwhile, debates continue worldwide about reducing the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan, concerning both the time frame and the specifics of withdrawing troops. These debates have increased the urgency of the Obama administration’s upcoming decisions about troop level reduction. Antiwar sentiment continues to rise in the US due to the cost of the war and the continuing economic crisis.

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--Sharon Miller


Afghan Taliban Cede Ground in the South, but Fears Linger
The Taliban’s presence in southern Afghanistan has decreased, but many in the region are concerned that this situation is temporary and might change if foreign troops leave the region.

Beheading of Afghanistan politician seen as message from insurgents
Afghan provincial council leader Jawad Zehak was beheaded in Bamian province. The beheading is being blamed on insurgents. Bamian is one of the provinces where Afghan police and security forces are supposed to take over next month.

Blasts Across Afghanistan Kill 20
At least 20 people, including 8 children, were killed in a series of bombings in Afghanistan June 11. A roadside bomb in Kandahar province killed 15 people. A second bomb killed 2 police officers in Laghman province. In Khost province, a suicide bomber killed 3 people.

Young suicide bomber pushing ice cream cart adds to record Afghanistan death toll
A suicide bomber with an ice cream cart detonated a bomb which killed one child and injured at least 3 more. 16 more people were killed in a Taliban attack in Kandahar. Violence in Afghanistan has reached record levels during the current fighting season,


Making inroads in Afghanistan
The US military is trying to establish a working relationship between troops and Afghan farmers in Kandahar province, a Taliban stronghold.

Eye doctors salvage sight in war zone
A profile of medical professionals who treat eye injuries resulting from the war in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan tackles sexual abuse of children within the police
Afghanistan’s police force has to deal with the presence of minors in its ranks. There have also been allegations of sexual abuse by police forces. These problems are especially serious in more remote areas.

Flooding in northern Afghanistan kills at least 6
Floods in Aibak, Afghanistan, have killed at least 6 people and damaged 25 houses and a mosque.

In Kabul, air pollution a bigger killer than war
Experts are saying that air pollution in Kabul is deadlier than war. Health problems resulting from pollution are rampant.

Hopes are low as Afghanistan's Karzai visits Pakistan
Hamid Karzai visited Pakistan to discuss the conflict with the Taliban.


Secret US and Afghanistan talks could see troops stay for decades
For over a month, the US and Afghanistan have been negotiating troop withdrawal for 2014. There is a possibility that US and other foreign troops could remain in Afghanistan after 2014.

In The Senate, Some Signs of Fatigue With Afghanistan
Many in the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, are calling for significant reductions in the number of US troops in Afghanistan. The Obama administration has stated that the situation in Afghanistan is intertwined with the US intervention in Libya.

Afghanistan: Postponing the inevitable in hopes of achieving the impossible
In the face of increasing opposition to the war in Afghanistan, the question is not whether or even when to withdraw US troops, but how to do it. Column by Jay Bookman.

Obama weighs scale of Afghanistan pullout
The Obama administration debates the size of a troop withdrawal in the context of increasing opposition to the war.

As troop drawdown nears, is NATO surge working in Afghanistan?
While more NATO troops were killed in Afghanistan in April and May than during any other two-month period of the war, US officials maintain that the surge has been effective, at least in some areas.


U.S. wants ‘joint bases’ in Afghanistan, Gates says
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates believes that the US should maintain its presence in Afghanistan as a tenant on Afghan military bases instead of establishing US bases in Afghanistan.

Poll: Rising number of Americans want U.S. out of Afghanistan
A CNN poll released Thursday revealed that 39% of those polled want all US forces out of Afghanistan and 35% want at least some forces pulled from Afghanistan. These numbers reflect an increase in antiwar sentiment since the killing of Osama bin Laden.

DANA MILBANK: Success in Afghanistan — the ever-lowering bar
The Senate prepares to confirm Ryan Crocker as the US ambassador to Afghanistan. This column also discusses how US standards of success in Afghanistan have changed since the beginning of the war.

U.S. nation-building in the wrong place?
Democratic Senator Jim Webb links the war in Afghanistan with the economic crisis in the US. This blog post examines the topic in depth.

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