The Pakistan Taliban

by Graham Usher | published February 13, 2007

The Problem with "Hearts and Minds" in Afghanistan

by B. D. Hopkins
published in MER255

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The New (and Old) Classics of Counterinsurgency

by Laleh Khalili
published in MER255

Two weapons today threaten freedom in our world. One -- the 100-megaton hydrogen bomb -- requires vast resources of technology, effort and money. It is an ultimate weapon of civilized and scientific man. The other -- a nail and a piece of wood buried in a rice paddy -- is deceptively simple, the weapon of a peasant.
—Lt. Col. T. N. Greene, The Guerrilla and How to Fight Him (1962)

Counterinsurgency is another word for brotherly love.
—attributed to Edward Lansdale

Afghanistan's Presidential Elections

Spreading Democracy or a Sham?

by M. Nazif Shahrani | published October 8, 2004

Less than a month before George W. Bush's second bid for the White House, his protégé and partner in post-Taliban Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, faces an election that both men hope will not only establish the legitimacy of Karzai's presidency but also prove the Bush administration's claim that the war-ravaged nation's transition to democracy has been a success. Over 10.5 million Afghans have reportedly registered to choose from among a slate of 16 candidates on October 9, 2004, less than three years after the removal of the infamous Taliban regime and their al-Qaeda allies from power in Kabul.

Descent into Disaster?

Afghan Refugees

by Margaret Emery , Hiram Ruiz
published in MER221

On October 19, 2001, Iran agreed to build camps to accommodate new refugees fleeing US bombing and internal chaos in Afghanistan. This was the first piece of good news for relief workers concerned that Operation Enduring Freedom is accelerating the descent of Afghanistan's decades-old refugee crisis into a humanitarian disaster of untold proportions.

Afghanistan in the Balance

by Patricia Gossman
published in MER221

In the first few days after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it became clear that the United States was going to seek out allies in the region to assist efforts to destroy al-Qaeda bases and networks of support in Afghanistan. Very quickly that objective was expanded to include dislodging or crushing the Taliban, who have ruled most of Afghanistan in recent years and who have provided Osama bin Laden safe haven since 1997.

From the Editors

by Chris Toensing , Elliott Colla
published in MER221

The hijackings and mass murders of September 11 were horrible and momentous, but the world did not suddenly change on that crystal-clear morning. Existing cracks in the US-led world order widened and deepened, and lurking insecurities strode forth from the shadows.

Pakistan Between Afghanistan and India

by Hamza Alavi
published in MER222

Radical Islam and the activities of jihadi groups have been central to Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan as well as India. But the Pakistani military was already turning against such groups for internal reasons, before the US assault on al-Qaeda and the Taliban and this winter’s confrontation with India.

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Afghan Women

Bombed to be Liberated?

by Saba Gul Khattak
published in MER222

When we are hungry, nobody listens, but when we are fighting, they send us loads of firearms and artillery. Why? -- Zubaida (April 1998)

The Shape of Afghanistan to Come

by Anthony Shadid
published in MER222

On a cold January morning, Uzbekistan opened its first mission in its battered neighbor to the south with as much ceremony as weary Afghanistan could muster: generals were in uniforms, bureaucrats in Western suits and delegates from the rugged hinterland wore their traditional pakul.