by UNA MOORE
Afghanistan is at a critical juncture. That sentence has become cliché, but it is no less true for being so.
Eight years after the overthrow of the Taliban government, measurable and meaningful progress has been achieved in a broad range of areas. Access to basic medical care has been expanded. Women and ethnic and religious minorities serve at all levels of government. The number of children in school has shot up from less than a million in 2001 to six million today. Local NGOs, once operated clandestinely, are registered with the government and receive assistance from international donors. An overwhelmingly amateur class of journalists has revived Afghanistan’s press.
Yet, despite undeniable gains, Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most combustible crisis zones, and the gravest challenges on all fronts still lie ahead. Violence against civilians is increasing, corruption is deepening and humanitarian space is shrinking. The future teeters precariously on decisions that will be made in Kabul, Washington, European capitals and far-flung cities and villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions this year.
Thanks to the generosity of Oxfam, I will be among a small pool of bloggers covering the U.K. Government’s big Afghanistan conference and related non-governmental events in London next week. Civil society events will begin on Tuesday and the security-focused intergovernmental conference will take place two days later.
As much as possible, I will live blog events on aid and development, security, civil-military relations, protecting women’s human rights, and promoting the rule of law. With some luck, I may get to interview a few top diplomats and policy-makers, but I also intend to interview some of Afghanistan’s less internationally-known stakeholders — Afghan human rights activists, aid workers, lawmakers, and civil servants.
So, check back regularly as the London conference gets underway and I bring you updates from the people and events discussing, debating and shaping the way forward in Afghanistan.
New Zealand Commandos’ Kabul Exploits
New Zealand Commandos in Kabul Battle
U.N. Dispatch: Attack on Kabul
Axe-SPAN: Air Force Operations at Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan
Change.org: Enlisting the Taliban in the Fight against Polio
Admiral James Stavridis: “Terrific News” in Afghanistan
Axe-SPAN: Security Efforts in Logar Province, Afghanistan
Change.org: Afghan Watchdog Report Highlights War’s Toll on Children
Change.org: Ballots or Bullets — the War and Peace Elections of 2010
The Hague Online: Brothers in Arms
Axe-SPAN: U.S. Army Troops in Logar Province, Afghanistan
Change.org: Civilian Casualty Investigations Take Time
Change.org: We Don’t Really Know What Happened in Kunar
Interview with Dutch Major General Mart de Kruif, Former Commander, Regional Command South — Part Two
Interview with Dutch Major General Mart de Kruif, Former Commander, Regional Command South — Part One
Axe on Alyono: Pot-head Afghan Soldiers
Axe-SPAN: Videojournalist David Axe Vignette on Predator & Reaper Drones
Worrying over Afghanistan’s Pot-head Soldiers
Marco Kroon: Knighted Commando, Part Two
Marco Kroon: Knighted Commando, Part One
Axe-SPAN: U.S. Training of Afghan Air Force
World Politics Review: Dutch Government Mulls Departure from Afghan War
Columbia City Paper: The Impossible War — Obama Commits More Troops to Afghanistan, with the Wrong Strategy
VoA News: Training Afghan Forces Poses Challenge for U.S. Military
Axe-SPAN: On U.S. Training of Afghan Army and Police
VoA News: Logistics Play Key Role in U.S. War Effort in Afghanistan
Offiziere.ch: In Afghanistan, Helicopters Represent NATO’s Greatest Strength, Biggest Weakness
Wired.co.uk: A Man and His Drones — on the Front Line of Robotic Warfare
VoA News: U.S. Troops Experiment with New Strategy for Afghanistan
World Politics Review: After Setbacks, Human Terrain System Rebuilds
Taliban Propaganda Drools over Killed Vehicles
World Politics Review: U.S. Air Force Advisers Struggle with Afghan Cultural Gap
French Origins of the “Ink Spot”
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