The South Asia Channel

Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan submits post-2014 options

Editor's note: Announcing a new book, Talibanistan: Negotiating the Border Between Terror, Politics, and Religion, edited by Peter Bergen with Katherine Tiedemann, and including chapters by several contributors to the AfPak Channel.

Not really leaving

The United States is likely to keep between 6,000 and 20,000 troops in Afghanistan following the end of combat operations in 2014, according to officials familiar with the recommendations submitted to the White House and Pentagon on Thursday by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen (NYT, CNN). A key decision on post-withdrawal troop levels may be made next week during a visit to Washington by Afghan President Hamid Karzai (AFP).

As NATO prepares to end its war in Afghanistan, anger at the West over the ongoing conflict is one likely motivation behind the soaring number of insider attacks over the past year (NYT). Though NATO has found that many of these insider attacks can be attributed to personal grievances, one senior coalition officer says, "A great percentage of the insider attacks have the enemy narrative - the narrative that the infidels have to be driven out - somewhere inside of them, but they aren't directed by the enemy."

A full recovery

15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by Taliban militants in October, was discharged by Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England on Thursday to spend time recovering with her family, who have a temporary home nearby (Reuters, Guardian, AFP). She is due to be readmitted later this month or next month for reconstructive surgery to her skull.

Hundreds of Afghans were turned away from the Torkham border crossing in to Pakistan on Wednesday for failing to have legal travel documents, a policy implemented after the alleged torture of 29 Pakistani laborers and three transport workers by Afghan police in late December (Dawn). Pakistani security forces on Friday killed 21 militants during operations on insurgent hideouts in Khyber tribal agency (Dawn).

A great discovery

A massive trove of ancient Hebrew manuscripts has been discovered in the caves of northeastern Afghanistan, confirming other historical references to the large Jewish community that once inhabited that region (CBS/AP). The cache of documents was discovered in a cave similar to those often used by the Taliban as hideouts in the now conflict-ridden area.

-- Jennifer Rowland



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