Under Taliban Fire: GlobalPost Reports From Afghanistan

BY Larisa Epatko  February 2, 2011 at 3:49 PM EST

Our partners at GlobalPost have been covering political developments in Afghanistan, as well as military activities in the east and south, where troops regularly encounter Taliban fire.

Correspondent James Foley reports from Kandahar on the challenges the U.S. military faces fighting Taliban elements who are intermingled with civilians:

Editor’s note: This video contains graphic scenes and language.

Reporter Harry Sanna also was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division, where he was reporting on the transition from a U.S.-led to an Afghan-led security presence. His stories included the military debate over possible withdrawal from the Pech Valley region and the use of an iPhone application to track and fight Taliban in the field.

We caught up with Sanna between military embeds. He told us the eastern part of the country — where he was located from mid-December to mid-January — offers a glimpse into what lies ahead for Afghanistan as the 2014 withdrawal of foreign forces approaches:

“Many parts of the east are still highly unstable. In the Pech Valley, it’s not uncommon for firefights between the U.S. soldiers and insurgent groups to break out five or six times a day. If they go ahead with their planned withdrawal from area, there are obvious ramifications that must be addressed. Namely, are the Afghan forces ready to take over security and, if not, who will step into the power vacuum created?

“I suppose what struck me the most from my time in Kunar was the widespread lack of knowledge as to what outcomes the withdrawal would create. Many Afghan soldiers expressed skepticism in their own army’s ability to hold the ground without international assistance. Many locals, including the scores of contractors hired from nearby villages that work on U.S. bases, did not know what to expect after foreigners left the valley. Anxiety is running fairly high, that much is obvious,” he said.

Additionally, Jean MacKenzie reports on the “shaky cooperation” between the legislative and executive branches in Afghanistan:

President Hamid “Karzai had threatened to postpone the opening of the Parliament until the end of February, giving more time for a Special Tribunal looking into election fraud to issue its rulings. At stake is the fate of dozens of newly inaugurated members of Parliament who could be indicted if the Tribunal finds them guilty of criminal wrongdoing during the Parliamentary poll,” she writes.

And Charles Sennott, executive editor and co-founder of GlobalPost, observes from his current location in Kabul that many Afghans are watching the events in Egypt while their own country’s political machinations are causing concern.

On Wednesday’s NewsHour, Charles Sennott reports on his interview with Gen. David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan. View more GlobalPost stories on Afghanistan and follow us on Twitter.