Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistanti journalist and author of books about Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
Sunni and Shia groups battle for leadership in Iraq
Decision by the American commander in Afghanistan to expand security- and reconstruction-related missions beyond Kabul.
At one level there is a kind of donor fatigue, at another there are concerns about security in the country.
The United States has treated the region primarily as a convenient staging base for its Afghan campaign, and all regimes have felt confident enough to use the threat of Islamic fundamentalism and al Qaeda to continue in their old ways.
As small Central Asian countries have struck military alliances with the United States, their leaders have asserted their own power more aggressively.
In a reversal of the oppressive Taliban era, educated Afghan women are using the elections to the upcoming Loya Jirga, or grand tribal council, to press for their civil rights.
Unless the U.S. is willing to use its power to strengthen the political and economic processes that will help rebuild and modernize the country, there is the danger that ethnic divisions could again split the country.
Clarifying ISAF’s role in Kabul and elsewhere would strengthen the interim government’s ability to respond to security issues.