Who’s In the News
The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Friday he is confident that the tough fight in Afghanistan is headed in the right direction and he backs the president’s peace moves. “No one should have any illusions about how difficult the fight will continue to be as we and our Afghan partners strive to bring peace to a nation that has suffered through more than 30 years of continuous war,” Petraeus said in a lecture at the Royal United Services Institute. “Still, I believe that we now have the right strategy in place.” He cited military efforts to improve security in the southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar and Helmand provinces and focused on the importance of increasing the size of the Afghan security forces. He said there has been progress in literacy, health care, the insfrastructure, and the economy.
More SecDef buzz (Laura Rozen – Politico)
Speculation on who might succeed Obama cabinet heavyweight Defense Secretary Bob Gates is increasingly returning two names: retired four-star Gen. Colin Powell and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Powell and Panetta are two of the names he’s hearing, a senior U.S. official said Thursday, stressing it’s uninformed gossip in circulation, not a hard lead. Panetta would be great at the Pentagon but is described as very happy where he is, one associate said. Moving Panetta of course would open up the can of worms of replacing a very successful Director of Central Intelligence — a tricky position to fill.
Water’s Ripple Effect (Helene Gayle – Change.org)
For women around the world, we all know juggling our careers, families and friends can be a struggle. But for Ellema Sorra, age 25 living in Ethipoia “There is no free space. Wherever I go, there’s a job to be done,” she says. Between raising four children and a host of other duties, it’s no wonder. In addition to cooking, she milks the cows twice a day and walks two to three hours every day to fetch water from a nearby town. Having access to clean drinking water and a toilet and practicing good hygiene can make all of the difference in a woman’s or a young girl’s life. At CARE, we focus our efforts on empowering women and girls in the poorest parts of the world and we know that impacting even a single one of them, can send a ripple effect through their entire community.
Head of Afghan peace council says Taliban is ready to talk (Joshua Partlow and Mary Beth Sheridan – The Washington Post)
The head of Afghanistan’s new peace council said Thursday that he believes that some members of the Taliban are ready to negotiate, while still describing contacts as in their early stages. “We are taking our first steps,” Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president, said in a news conference in Kabul. “I believe there are people among the Taliban that have a message that they want to talk,” he said. “They are ready.” Rabbani’s comments echoed those of other Afghan and U.S. officials in Kabul who have said that members of the Taliban, including senior leaders or those purporting to represent them, have met with the Afghan government to discuss potential negotiations, despite the insurgent group’s public denials of such meetings.