Round-up of AfPak news, Petraeus edition.
Petraeus may recommend Obama shelve July 2011 deadline. At his confirmation hearing, Gen. David Petraeus told senators that while he currently endorses Obama's strategy, he may, based on the situation he finds on the ground in Afghanistan, propose "tweaks, refinements, [and] perhaps some significant changes" to that strategy later in the year. When defending the rationale for the deadline, Petraeus said, "I'm convinced it was not just for domestic political purposes. It was for audiences in Kabul, who, again, needed to be reminded that we won't be there forever." [AP]
NYT: Petraeus honeymoon won't last. Gen. David Petraeus will assume command in Kabul with more support in Washington than any of his predecessors enjoyed, but he nonetheless faces challenges that will vex even a general of his talent, writes New York Times Kabul Bureau Chief Alyssa Rubin. These challenges, which include fighting a war where no-one is sure who is winning or losing, an unsteady Afghan president unwilling to take action against corruption, and an unreliable partner in Pakistan, could make Afghanistan a more difficult problem to solve for Petraeus than Iraq was three years ago. [NYT]
Petraeus: U.S. troops' rules of engagement to be reviewed. Front-line troops had criticized Petraeus's predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for restricting the use of airstrikes and artillery in their battles with insurgents. They believed these constraints, intended to minimize Afghan civilian casualties, endangered their safety. At his Senate confirmation hearing, Petraeus called the protection of U.S. troops a "moral imperative" and said he would ensure U.S. troops' rules of engagement would keep both them and Afghans out of harm's way. [NYT]
Afghan Attorney-General complains Eikenberry pressured him to prosecute corruption cases. Mohammed Ishaq Aloko claimed that the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan threatened to have him fired if he did not prosecute a former cabinet minister and a senior Afghan banker, both of whom have been linked to a multi-million dollar extortion scheme. He made the allegation a day after the Washington Post reported that, according to U.S. officials, the Afghan government is shielding those close to Afghan President Hamid Karzai from corruption charges. [NYT, WashPo]
McChrystal gets to keep fourth star. Because the former Afghan commander had only served at four-star rank for one year, President Obama had to intervene directly to ensure McChrystal retains the rank when he retires from the armed services later this month. Obama's intervention allows McChrystal to claim a more generous pension. [AFP]