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Entries in Burhanuddin Rabbani (7)

Thursday
Oct202011

Hillary Clinton in Afghanistan to Revive Peace Talks

U.S. Department of State(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Following her unannounced visit to Libya to offer the new government there U.S. support, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed up in Afghanistan Wednesday in an effort to jump start a peaceful ending to the 10-year-long war.

During her stay, Clinton will hold talks with President Hamid Karzai and other officials about ways of including the Taliban in peace talks.  The task was made more difficult by the murder last month of Afghanistan's top negotiator, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Karzi, who viewed Rabbani as the best person for the job, has been reluctant to resume the peace process, insisting that Pakistan must also be involved.  Kabul has suggested that Pakistan's rogue spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, may have ordered the assassination.

Nonetheless, Clinton and the White House are pushing for a resumption of negotiations, which might also include the Haqqani network, another militant group with possible ties to the Pakistani government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep302011

Karzai Ends Peace Talks with Taliban After Rabbani's Death

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani on Sept. 20 ended further peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Rabbani was the head of the country's peace council; his death by a suicide bomber was the latest in a spate of high profile killings of Afghan officials.

According to BBC News, President Hamid Karzai said he will no longer hold peace talks with the Taliban because he does not know who his administration is negotiating with since they are unable to locate the Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the Taliban Council. Karzai was speaking to religious leaders and government officials concerning the talks. He said he will instead focus on talks with Pakistan.

Karzai is in a tenuous position with the U.S. and Pakistan's relationship souring after the White House accused Pakistan of harboring and supporting the Haqqani network, a military group believed to be reponsible for a recent attack on Kabul.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

Afghan Assassination Dims Peace Prospects

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The man who assassinated Afghanistan’s former-president-turned-peacemaker used an audio recording of a Taliban representative and the promise of a letter from Taliban leaders to set up the meeting in which he killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, according to Afghan officials.

The new details on how the bomber managed to convince Afghan officials to let him see Rabbani suggest he had direct access to the Taliban leadership council before he carried out the assassination. Thursday Afghanistan’s intelligence service used that information to suggest a political end to the war may not be possible -- a suggestion echoed by the U.S.’ ambassador in Kabul. Rabbani’s death “raises very serious questions as to whether the Taliban and those who support them have any real interest in reconciliation,” Ambassador Ryan Crocker said.

It’s not clear if that means the Afghan government or the United States will stop pursuing negotiations with the Taliban. U.S. officials have met a handful of times with a man they hoped was an emissary from the Taliban leadership council, but those talks have stalled, the officials say.

Before the fatal meeting, the bomber had met with Afghan officials at least half a dozen times, earning their trust and piquing their interest enough for them to call Rabbani to Kabul from a trip to Iran for an urgent meeting, Afghan officials say. President Hamid Karzai Thursday said he too had heard the audio recording that the bomber provided, which included “a couple of questions and suggestions mentioned regarding peace,” Karzai said.

Afghan and U.S. officials working on reconciliation have been hoping the Taliban would provide a list of demands that could jumpstart negotiations, and it seems they believed this man could be the one to provide that list. In addition to the audio recording -- from a brother of a former deputy Taliban minister -- the bomber also said he had a letter that he needed to personally hand over to Rabbani. Afghan officials recovered the blood-stained “letter” from the bomber’s pocket and say it was clearly a fake, including grammatical mistakes that a native speaker of Pashto -- the language spoken by Taliban’s leaders -- would not make.

Kabul’s diplomatic area is under heavy security Thursday. Rabbani will be buried Friday, on top of a hill where the Soviet army built an Olympic-size swimming pool (though never filled it with water) and where the Taliban used to execute their political enemies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

New Details: How Bomber Killed Former Afghan President

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The man who assassinated Afghanistan’s former president turned peacemaker used an audio recording of a Taliban representative and the promise of a letter from Taliban leaders to set up the meeting in which he killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, according to Afghan officials.

The new details on how the bomber managed to convince Afghan officials to let him see Rabbani suggest he had direct access to the Taliban leadership council before he carried out the assassination.  On Thursday, Afghanistan’s intelligence service used that information to suggest a political end to the war may not be possible -- a suggestion echoed by the United States’ ambassador in Kabul.

Rabbani’s death "raises very serious questions as to whether the Taliban and those who support them have any real interest in reconciliation," Ambassador Ryan Crocker said.

It’s not clear if that means the Afghan government or the United States will stop pursuing negotiations with the Taliban.  U.S. officials have met a handful of times with a man they hoped was an emissary from the Taliban leadership council, but those talks have stalled, the officials said.

Before the fatal meeting, the bomber had met with Afghan officials at least half a dozen times, earning their trust and piquing their interest enough for them to call Rabbani to Kabul from a trip to Iran for an urgent meeting, Afghan officials said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday said he too had heard the audio recording that the bomber provided, which included "a couple of questions and suggestions mentioned regarding peace."

Afghan and U.S. officials working on reconciliation have been hoping the Taliban would provide a list of demands that could jumpstart negotiations, and it seems they believed this man could be the one to provide that list.

In addition to the audio recording -- from a brother of a former deputy Taliban minister -- the bomber also said he had a letter that he needed to personally hand over to Rabbani.  Afghan officials recovered the blood-stained “letter” from the bomber’s pocket and say it was clearly a fake, including grammatical mistakes that a native speaker of Pashto -- the language spoken by Taliban’s leaders -- would not make.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

Karzai Returns to Afghanistan Amid Mourning over Murdered Ex-Leader

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghanistan, already a nation in turmoil, was in even worse shape when President Hamid Karzai returned there Wednesday after cutting short his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Karzai had to hurry back following the assassination earlier this week of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who led the High Peace Council that is supposed to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the 10-year-long war with the Taliban.

Rabbani, who was driven from power by the Taliban in 1996, was killed at his home when a bomb blew up in the turban of a purported emissary from the Taliban.  No one yet has claimed responsibility for the attack, although most suspect it was a suicide bomber sent by the Taliban.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

Obama: US Won’t Be Deterred By Assassination of Afghan Ex-President

President Obama arrives for the Open Government Partnership Event on September 20, 2011 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(UNITED NATIONS) -- President Obama said Tuesday that the assassination of the leader of the Afghan High Peace Council would not deter the United States from “creating a path whereby Afghans can live in freedom and safety and security and prosperity.”

Speaking alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the United Nations, Obama offered his “heartfelt condolences” for the death of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who had been working to negotiate a political solution to the ongoing war with the Taliban. Rabbani was killed Tuesday by a suicide bomber in Kabul.

“He was a man who cared deeply about Afghanistan and had been a valued advisor to President Karzai, and was an enormous contribution to rebuilding the country,” Obama said. “It is a tragic loss.”

Karzai described Rabbani as a “Afghan patriot” who “sacrificed his life for the sake of Afghanistan and for the peace of our country” and agreed with Obama that “this will not deter us from continuing on the path that we have, and we’ll definitely succeed.”

Tuesday marked the first time that Obama and Karzai have met since the U.S. announced plans to draw down troops from Afghanistan and transition security to Afghan forces. “It is going to be important to continue the efforts to bring all elements of Afghan society together to end what has been a senseless cycle of violence,” Obama concluded.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

Suicide Bomber Assassinates Afghan Peace Council Leader

In this photo from August 26, 2011, Head of the Afghanistan Peace Council and former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, speaks at a ceremony with local officials as more than 100 members of the Taliban surrender themselves to the Afghan Government. Majid Saeedi/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghanistan's struggle to make peace with the Taliban received a serious blow Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb hidden in his turban during a meeting with the Afghan officials most critical to reconciliation efforts.

The blast killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, a towering figure who led Afghanistan's High Peace Council and has played a key role in nearly every step of Afghan history for the last 30 years, and severely wounded Masoom Stanakzai, the backbone of President Hamid Karzai's strategy in speaking with the Taliban.

The attack seemed designed to decapitate Afghanistan's peace efforts and deliver the message that at least some insurgent groups have no interest in peace. Rabbani's death removes one of the Taliban's oldest enemies and will reinforce the fears of Rabbani's followers that the Taliban can't be trusted.

The suicide bomber blew up explosives concealed in his turban, the third time in the last three months that insurgents have employed that tactic, according to police officials and an aide to Rabbani. The aide, Karim Aimaq, said the meeting was deemed so important, Stanakzai asked Rabbani to fly back from Iran to attend. The bomber had convinced Stanakzai that he was interested in talking peace, so he escorted into the meeting without being searched, Aimaq said.

No group immediately took responsibility for the attack, although the Taliban said in April that they would target members of the High Peace Council. Last month, Rabbani criticized the Taliban for refusing to embrace talks and for killing innocent Afghans.

The government has struggled to bring insurgents to the negotiating table in the last few years, mostly through backchannel negotiations. It was those negotiations that Stanakzai largely led, helping choose which Taliban interlocutors to reach out to.

The U.S. has followed suit, holding a handful of meetings with a man believed to be close to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. But U.S. officials told ABC News their own negotiations are largely dead in the water, and Afghan officials complained they were kept out of the loop.

Tuesday’s attack mirrors the one that killed several CIA officers in Khost, Afghanistan, along the Pakistani border, last December.

In that attack, an informant who the CIA officers believed could lead them to senior al Qaeda commanders turned out to be a double agent and blew himself up at the beginning of a meeting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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