Round-up of today's AfPak news (not involving McChrystal).
\Holbrooke, Eikenberry shot at by Taliban on visit to Marjah. Gunmen fired on a V22 Osprey carrying U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry as it prepared to land, and three suicide bombers attacked a U.S. base seconds after they left. Holbrooke and Eikenberry were visiting to assess U.S. forces' progress in securing the area. Holbrooke laughed off the attacks, telling reporters "I've been shot at in other countries, a lot of other countries." [ABC News]
U.S. tax money flowing to warlords, possibly Taliban. The House Subcommittee for National Security has found Afghan warlords are receiving millions of dollars in protection payments to ensure insurgents do not attack NATO convoys traveling throughout Afghanistan. These warlords are hired by Afghan shipping companies, which are in turn hired by the Defense Department to transport goods across the country. According to the Subcommittee, many of these payments to warlords are likely being used to bribe the Taliban not to attack specific convoys. [NYT]
Afghan war "pointless," says author, ex-Taliban prisoner. CBS News consultant Jere Van Dyk, who was held captive by the Taliban for 45 days in 2008, says NATO efforts to defeat the Taliban will fall flat as long as Afghan militants enjoy Pakistan's covert backing. He says Pakistani military sources have told him they are using U.S. aid money to support the Afghan Taliban, both to increase Pakistan's influence in the country and to distract the Taliban from fighting in Pakistan's border region. [Reuters]
Prisoner releases could backfire. Delegates at Afghan President Hamid Karzai's peace jirga overwhelmingly agreed it was time to begin freeing droves of prisoners held in U.S. and Afghan jails.Such a move, they believe, will advance the Afghan peace process. But observers worry that freed detainees may rejoin the Taliban; two prisoners, who had been held at Guantanamo Bay before being transferred to Afghanistan, were freed in 2008, and subsequently became senior Taliban commanders. [TIME]
Karzai: UN agrees to take Taliban off terror blacklist. The Afghan president said the UN Security Council, while visiting Kabul, agreed to gradually remove from the list Taliban commanders who are not linked to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. People whose names appear on the list are banned from overseas travel and cannot access any assets they hold abroad. [Reuters]