The Afghanistan Weekly Reader

Happy Friday! Here are the top stories about Afghanistan that we were reading this week.

King David’s War
Rolling Stone by Michael Hastings
On the morning of June 15th, 2010, Gen. David Petraeus skipped breakfast. He was jetlagged from a trip earlier in the week to the Middle East, and he was due at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill at 9:30 a.m. to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. A veteran at these things — he had testified at least half a dozen times over the past three years, most famously as commander of U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq War — he decided not to drink much water that morning. He knew, as others sitting in front of the senators had learned the hard way, that once the marathon session began, he wouldn’t have a chance for a bathroom break. “No one wants to be sitting there with a full bladder,” a senior military official close to Petraeus tells me.

Military Downplays Key U.S. Objective in Afghanistan
Huffington Post by
Amanda Terkel
WASHINGTON — A top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is contradicting comments by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on whether a military offensive by Pakistan is necessary to win the war, reflecting frustrations over pinning down metrics for success.
At the Pentagon on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 commander in Afghanistan, briefed reporters about U.S. progress in pushing Pakistan to go after militants in North Waziristan, a haven for Taliban and al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Afghan Police ‘Nearly as Unpopular as Taliban in South’
The Guardian by Reuters

Afghanistan‘s police force is only slightly more popular than the Taliban in the insurgent heartlands of the south, according to a survey commissioned by the UN.  The results of the poll, published today, portrayed a police force widely viewed by Afghans as corrupt and biased, underscoring doubts about a planned Nato handover. About half the 5,052 Afghans surveyed across all 34 provinces said they would report crime elsewhere.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan…
by Joe Klein
If the liberation of Egypt weren’t in progress, this story from Afghanistan would be huge front-page news. The losses at Kabul Bank, first reported to be several hundred million in the Times last summer, are actually in the neighborhood of $900 million. Apparently, the bank directors–perhaps including Hamid Karzai’s brother Mahmoud–took a substantial portion of the assets, leveraged them and invested in Dubai real estate, which promptly crashed. The Afghan government does most of its business through Kabul Bank; if it fails, the government won’t be able to pay its civil servants–and a fair amount of international aid, deposited in the bank, may be washed out as well.

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