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WASHINGTON – Army Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday that the United States had reached agreements to open “additional logistical routes into Afghanistan” through its Central Asian neighbors to the north, reducing dependence on Pakistan as the main transit route for supplies to U.S. and NATO troops. Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, spoke to reporters in Pakistan before heading to Afghanistan, his last stop on a six-nation tour of the region. He is due in Washington to attend a national security meeting today with President Obama.
It has been seven years since Afghan forces supported by the United States toppled the Taliban and denied al-Qaida the terrorist haven, training ground and launch pad that Afghanistan had become. Since then, there has been clear, substantial progress, including democratic elections, the liberation of growing numbers of Afghan women to take their place in public life, and clear improvements in health care and education. But an honest assessment of Afghanistan must conclude that we are not where we might have hoped to be by now. While the country’s north and west are largely at peace and improving, the south and east are riven by insurgency, drugs and ineffective government. Afghans are increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress in building up their country. And the populations in countries that have contributed troops to the NATO-led mission are wondering how long this operation must last – and how many young men and women we will lose carrying it out.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck a milder-than-usual tone toward the United States in remarks Thursday, saying he did not want to “judge ahead of time” the policies of President-elect Barack Obama. “We will wait and see what his administration will do,” Ahmadinejad said during a news conference in Tehran.
KABUL, Afghanistan – A single-file line of schoolchildren walked past a military checkpoint Sunday as a bomb-loaded truck veered toward them and exploded, killing 14 young Afghans in a heartbreaking flash captured by a U.S. military security camera. The video shows an SUV slowly weaving through sandbag barriers at a military checkpoint just as a line of schoolchildren, most wearing white caps, comes into view. They walk along a pathway between the street and a wall, several of them pausing for a few seconds in a group before moving forward again. The vehicle moves toward the security camera while the children walk in the opposite direction, nearly passing the SUV when the footage ends in a fiery blast.
Few things symbolize progress in the fight against poverty better than the face of an educated girl. And I was fortunate enough to see hundreds of them during a trip to Afghanistan in 2006. Those faces, eager and alert, lit up the courtyard of a new school built to educate 1,000 girls in central Afghanistan’s Bamian province. Gone were the days of Taliban rule, when girls were forbidden to study and women weren’t allowed to teach. Afghanistan’s future leaders could learn – out in the open.
In the three decades since the Vietnam War, Spokane's Gold Star Mothers had all but disappeared. Only a handful remained when the chapter was dissolved several years ago. "If we had known this Iraqi thing was coming along, we would have waited," said Myrtle Sherburn, 85, a past president of the Gold Star Mothers in Spokane.
It's often dubbed the other war. Sometimes the forgotten war. But the six-year battle in Afghanistan is coming off its deadliest year yet, and observers say 2008 could be a turning point in a region that's a strategic nexus for terrorist groups.