Daily brief: McChrystal to retire

Today: Join Afghanistan experts Martine van Bijlert and Steve Coll at 10:15am EST at the New America Foundation for a discussion about Karzai, reconciliation, and the west’s strategy in Afghanistan — details here (NAF). Bonus read: AfPak Behind the Lines with Van Bijlert on Karzai’s relationships with Petraeus, McChrystal, Afghanistan’s security forces, and parliament (FP). ...

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Today: Join Afghanistan experts Martine van Bijlert and Steve Coll at 10:15am EST at the New America Foundation for a discussion about Karzai, reconciliation, and the west's strategy in Afghanistan -- details here (NAF). Bonus read: AfPak Behind the Lines with Van Bijlert on Karzai's relationships with Petraeus, McChrystal, Afghanistan's security forces, and parliament (FP).

This is the end

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan who was fired last week after a controversial Rolling Stone profile, has told the Army he plans to retire (AP, AFP, Reuters, BBC, McClatchy). Senate confirmation hearings for his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, begin today at 9:30am EST (SASC, CSPAN). The Obama administration's "multiple signals to multiple audiences" about the meaning of the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan has left many "wondering what will happen next summer" (NYT).

Today: Join Afghanistan experts Martine van Bijlert and Steve Coll at 10:15am EST at the New America Foundation for a discussion about Karzai, reconciliation, and the west’s strategy in Afghanistan — details here (NAF). Bonus read: AfPak Behind the Lines with Van Bijlert on Karzai’s relationships with Petraeus, McChrystal, Afghanistan’s security forces, and parliament (FP).

This is the end

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan who was fired last week after a controversial Rolling Stone profile, has told the Army he plans to retire (AP, AFP, Reuters, BBC, McClatchy). Senate confirmation hearings for his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, begin today at 9:30am EST (SASC, CSPAN). The Obama administration’s "multiple signals to multiple audiences" about the meaning of the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan has left many "wondering what will happen next summer" (NYT).

The head of the House subcommittee on appropriations on foreign aid, Nita Lowey, has vowed not to spend "one more dime" on aid to Afghanistan, of the $3.9 billion requested by the Obama administration, because she is outraged at a story in the Journal reporting that billions of dollars in aid are flown out of the Kabul airport and a story in the Post describing how Karzai administration officials are allegedly impeding corruption investigations (WSJ, Reuters, AFP, Wash Post). Lowey said she would leave only "lifesaving humanitarian aid" in the bill, which is scheduled for markup this week (House statement).

A new report from the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction finds a host of problems with Afghanistan’s security forces, including a "systematic" overstatement or failure to measure the capabilities of the ANSF adequately, a shortage of U.S. trainers, and a "corrupt and inadequate" logistics system (Wash Post, BBC, AJE). The report is available here (Majlis).

In security incidents across Afghanistan, a U.N. vehicle was shot up in the diplomatic district of Kabul earlier today, and the driver, an Afghan, was reportedly killed (AP, Pajhwok). In southeastern Kabul, 15 police officers and five civilians were injured when an anti-NATO protest turned violent (AP). And the Taliban have reportedly threatened any foreign companies who attempt to extract Afghanistan’s recently publicized mineral wealth (AFP).

A security front

In a previously unannounced offensive, about 700 U.S. and Afghan troops launched a major assault on Sunday in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, killing as many as 150 insurgents in the "tough fight" (Wash Post). Pajhwok reports that a district intelligence chief in Kunar was killed when his vehicle drove over a Taliban-planted roadside bomb (Pajhwok).

Raids by special operations forces in Afghanistan have reportedly killed or captured 186 insurgent leaders and detained nearly 1,000 lower-level fighters in the last 110 days, which officials say has decreased roadside bomb attacks and weakened the Taliban, particularly in southern and eastern Afghanistan (LAT, NYT). And the LA Times profiles the use of medevac helicopters in Afghanistan, where crews fly rescue missions "unarmed but unafraid," though flanked by a Black Hawk with two machine guns (LAT).

Unusual destinations

As many as ten suspected militants were killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike earlier this morning on a compound near Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, reportedly used by a group of ‘Punjabi Taliban’ (AFP, AP, Reuters, BBC, ET, Geo, CNN). Several al-Qaeda fighters were also reportedly killed. The majority of this year’s 45 drone strikes have been in neighboring North Waziristan (NAF).

Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the leader of the Swat Valley militant group the TNSM, is due in an anti-terrorism court in Mingora today after his arrest last summer (The News). He faces charges of sedition, conspiracy, and encouraging terrorism. Clashes continue in Orakzai agency, as do targeted killings in Karachi (Daily Times, Daily Times). And the number of reported incidents of violence against women in Pakistan has gone up 13 percent, according to a womens rights nonprofit (ET). Of 2009’s some 8,500 incidents, about 5,700 were reported in Punjab, 1,800 in Sindh, 660 in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, and 240 in Baluchistan.

Patriotic prince

Britain’s Prince Harry, who spent 10 weeks serving in Helmand province in 2007 and 2008, said he would love to go back to Afghanistan to "serve [his] country" with his "brothers in arms" (BBC, ABC). Harry said, "As long as my military career allows it and politically it’s allowed, then I’ll serve my country as any other soldier."

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