A new report released by the U.S. Department of Defense on Monday finds that just one of the Afghan National Army's 23 brigades is capable of operating on its own without NATO support (NYT, Bloomberg, WSJ). The report's dismal findings continue with an assessment that violence is higher than it was before the 2009 surge, the Taliban have proved resilient, corruption continues to plague the central government, and Pakistan continue to provide support to the insurgency.
The Taliban have said that two of their members will attend a meeting organized by a think tank on the outskirts of Paris to discuss Afghanistan's future, but they will not engage in talks about peace and reconciliation (AP). Representatives from Afghanistan's High Peace Council, anti-Taliban political parties, and the militant group Hezb-e-Islami have also agreed to attend.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Tuesday in Turkey, where Karzai will present evidence to Zardari that a recent suicide attack on the Afghan spy chief was planned in Pakistan and carried out by a Pakistani attacker (Reuters). A Turkish official said Monday that the three nations had set up a "hotline" to facilitate communication and expedite their responses to a crisis situation (AFP).
The McClatchy news agency has reportedly obtained the blueprint of a peace deal under discussion by Afghanistan and Pakistan that has Pakistan taking over the reconciliation efforts currently spearheaded by the United States, and predicts that by 2015 the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami "will have given up armed opposition, transformed from military entities into political parties, and are actively participating in the country's political and constitutional processes, including national elections" (Tel).
And a new CNN opinion piece by Peter Bergen argues that Zero Dark Thirty, the as-yet unreleased film directed by Kathryn Bigelow about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, portrays the torture of al-Qaeda detainees as key to finding bin Laden, when in reality torture played very little - if any - role in the decade-long hunt (CNN).
Social media shutdown
Over the weekend, Facebook shut down a Facebook page that was recruiting for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (Post). The page had recently advertised a job opening for a writer for the group's quarterly magazine Ahyah-e-Khilafat, and was also looking for a video editor, translator, and writer of "jihadi current affairs."
-- Jennifer Rowland
Jacquelyn Martin, Pool