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Weekly News Roundup: Conferring in Kabul, Team Canada, and a look back at the 2003 invasion of Iraq

written by Matt Elliott
on July 23, 2010

The headlines coming out of Afghanistan this week have focused on the international conference held in Kabul and the agreement reached to allow the Afghan army and police to assume control of the country's security by 2014. 



"I remain determined that our Afghan national security forces will be responsible for all military and law enforcement operations throughout our country by 2014," President Hamid Karzai told those in attendance, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.



Many obstacles remain, however, before NATO forces can begin to transfer control to the Afghans. The process was slated to begin by the end of the year, but it now appears those plans have been delayed. General Petraeus is believed to want to slow down the transfer of power until conditions improve. This article from the PakTribune clearly shows that the war is far from over as it describes the horrible losses a small American platoon belonging to the 101st Airborne Division has endured in its remote outpost in the Arghandab district.



Elsewhere, this Associated Press story illustrates the problems the United States faces in training Afghan security forces. An Afghan army sergeant shot and killed two American civilian trainers. The shooter was a group leader — an Afghan soldier selected to train other soldiers on the base. A similar incident earlier in the month claimed the lives of three British troops. Corruption, questionable allegiances, and the Taliban's influence all play a part in preventing the Afghan army and police from assuming control. And we haven't even mentioned tribal rivalries, which also complicate matters. Read this vivid entry from the Kandahar Diary, a blog penned by an independent security contractor. Through an interpreter, this contractor had a short conversation with an Afghan member of his guard forces that spoke volumes about feuds that will last well past 2014.



A Canadian-led aid group, the last international aid group operating in Kandahar, continues its work in the region. A reporter from the Toronto Star spent some time with the team. His story of the team's dedication, daring and effectiveness is incredible and not to be missed.



Another story, this one from The New York Times At War blog, shows you what the conditions are really like in Afghanistan's capital. It takes you to the neighborhoods and the back streets of Kabul that aren't stops on a visiting foreign dignitary's tour of the city. 



While talks of transferring power were taking place in Afghanistan, the United States began withdrawing troops from Iraq ahead of schedule. According to this People's World story, soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division began their journey home on July 13, after nine months in Iraq — short of the typical 12-month tour of duty. 



There was another great post in The New York Times At War blog this week. Based on excerpts from Anthony Shadid's 2005 book, Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War, it takes you back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the madness and violence in Baghdad in the early days of the war. Shadid shows you up close the brutality and the tragedy of war.

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