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General Petraeus takes command of the Afghanistan war

General Petraeus arrived in Kabul today to take over the Afghanistan war effort. Afghans say he faces a limited window to rein in corruption, make the Karzai government more accountable, and create momentum toward peace.

Newly appointed U.S. and NATO forces commander, U.S. General David Petraeus, speaks with Commander of ISAF Joint Command Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez during their arrival in Kabul Friday.

DEU Army Michal Miszta, IJC Public Affairs/Handout/Reuters

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With the US-led Afghanistan war in its most precarious position since it began nearly nine years ago, Gen. David Petraeus arrived in Kabul today to implement a strategy similar to the one he successfully pioneered in Iraq.

It includes not only removing the Taliban from the villages they have occupied for years, but also overseeing reconstruction, helping create a more accountable government, and building up the Afghan military and police.

The capital of Kabul is an oasis of relative security. But the situation in the south of the country – the Pashtun heartland that gave birth to the Taliban in the early 1990s – is deteriorating, say average Afghans, aid workers, and some diplomats. June was the deadliest month ever for foreign troops here.

“Compared to eight years back, or even three years back, we are really much, much worse off than at any point,” says Danish Karokhel, who runs Pajhwok Afghan News, which has reporters in every city. “The Taliban are on most of the important roads leading to Kabul. The government just looks so weak to people.”

Poppy farmer Dal Mohammed is not a Taliban supporter – far from it, he says. After all, it was partly the Taliban’s fault that he recently had to flee his village in southern Afghanistan with his two wives and seven children for this refugee camp on Kabul’s outskirts.


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