Why Aid Groups Are Working With The Taliban

08/18/2010 06:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Today's AfPak round-up:

WashPost: Why isn't Obama defending Afghan war? Gen. David Petraeus has been on a media blitz defending the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, noting that while the war has been going on for nearly nine years, Washington has only begun to invest the resources necessary to fight the Taliban in the past 18 months. "This is an appropriate message for the general to deliver," writes the Washington Post's editorial board, "but he shouldn't have to do it alone." President Obama, they say, should take the lead in publicly defending the strategy that he committed American troops to fight. [WashPo]

WikiLeaks: U.S. Army willing to discuss Afghan files. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he received a call from the U.S. Army General Counsel's office, saying they are open to discussing Assange's request for help in finding and removing information that could harm civilians from 15,000 classified Afghan war documents in its possession. Assange plans to release the documents within "two weeks to a month." [AP]

TIME: Karzai playing politics with contractor ban. The Afghan president's move against increasingly unpopular private security firms will likely boost his fortunes in next month's parliamentary elections, writes TIME magazine's Jason Montlagh. The ban, he adds, will also cripple some of his most powerful political rivals—regional warlords who hire out their private militias to provide security for NATO forces. But Karzai's political coup will likely make Afghans less safe, as Afghan army and police forces are nowhere near ready to take over security contractors' responsibilities. [TIME]

Why aid groups are working with the Taliban. Several major aid groups, including Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF, are providing assistance to Afghans in Taliban-controlled areas, and cooperation with insurgents is necessary to ensure their safety. The Taliban's increasing strength has made this process easier, says one aid worker, as the Taliban's "chain of command is [now] more coherent." The U.S. military recently tried to curb Taliban cooperation by requiring aid groups that receive government grants to work closely with NATO forces, thus making them less attractive partners for insurgents. [NPR]

Suggest a correction