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Afghanistan's future must include the Taliban, says top former UK General

October 28th, 2014
12:08 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Afghanistan’s political future needs to include the Taliban, a top former British General told CNN's Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

“It's not for a soldier or even a retired soldier, I think, to get into what needs to be done politically. But if I can offer an opinion as Citizen Jackson rather than General Jackson, it would seem to me, in the long term, the politics of Afghanistan need to include those who call themselves the Taliban,” General Sir Mike Jackson, Former Chief of General Staff of the British Army, said.

Jackson’s comments come a day after Britain closed its last military base in Afghanistan, bringing an end to the 13-year-campaign that has claimed the lives of 445 British soldiers.

Assessing the possible future role of the Taliban is “beyond my experience,” the General added, but “it seems to me, only in that way will you encompass the big tent of Afghanistan as a whole and move on to that stable and secure Afghanistan, which we would all want for the Afghanis themselves and then in the wider world, in that very turbulent region. A stable Afghanistan, to me, is a must.”

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

ISIS fight needs boots on the ground, says former British military chief

October 8th, 2014
02:43 PM ET

WEB EXTRA: Richards says the world cannot take its foot off the pedal in Afghanistan.

By Mick Krever, CNN

The former head of the British military, General David Richards, said on Wednesday that the international fight against ISIS needed boots on the ground.

"I think you’ve got to make sure that your aerial campaign is accurately delivered, and that probably means some special forces up front," he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Experienced Western armies must play some role in the war, he said, if there is hope for victory.

“I’m not saying they have to be on the frontline, but they have to be deeply involved in the logistics, which is what often discriminates proper armies from amateur armies.”

An air campaign alone, he said, "cannot possibly" succeed.

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria • Turkey

Amid chaos in Iraq, U.S. paints optimistic picture for new Afghan government

October 2nd, 2014
09:43 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As chaos reigns supreme in Iraq, the United States is painting an optimistic picture for the country where it waged its longest war in history, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has just inaugurated a new president, ending months of political deadlock, and signed a security deal with the United States to keep foreign troops in the country beyond 2014.

But the country has also been rocked by an uptick in violence; this summer the Taliban advanced on Helmand Province, and Thursday saw the third suicide attack targeting the Afghan National Army in the space of just 24 hours.

“This is a very, very different circumstance from Iraq in a number of ways,” Daniel Feldman, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

EXCLUSIVE: Abdullah hails new Afghan unity government, says ‘failure will turn into a failure for everybody’

September 22nd, 2014
03:47 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Afghanistan’s new unity government was based on “the need of the country” and is “in the best interest of the country,” Abdullah Abdullah, who will now take on the new role of chief executive, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Monday.

It was Abdullah’s first interview since signing a landmark power-sharing deal on Sunday with his rival in the presidential election, Ashraf Ghani. The deal ends months of deadlock.

Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank executive, will become president and Abdullah, a former foreign minister, will have a role like that of an “executive prime minister,” he told Amanpour.

“It is a national unity government by all … sense of it,” he said. “It is a partnership between two teams.”

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Afghanistan ‘on the right track’ for unity government, says ambassador

September 18th, 2014
03:24 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

After months of deadlock over its presidential election, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Kingdom told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that the country is “on the right track” to forming a unity government.

“Today the president” – Hamid Karzai – “met with leaders figures of the country, and tomorrow these figures, these leading personalities are slated to talk to both candidates to encourage them to reach a final agreement as soon as possible,” Mohammad Daud Yaar said.

Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah is in a stalemate with former Finance Minister and World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani. Both claim they won April’s presidential election.

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

West must include Syria stronghold in ISIS fight, says NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

September 5th, 2014
03:00 PM ET

Click here to watch Amanpour's full interview with Rasmussen.

By Mick Krever, CNN

The West must include ISIS’s Syria stronghold in its effort to defeat it, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Friday.

There is “no doubt that Syria and Iraq should be looked upon as a whole. Many of the problems originate from the internal conflict in Syria. There is a clear spill over to the region.”

“And that’s why I think the international community will have to address these problems as a whole.”

The United States said at the conclusion of a NATO summit on Friday that it would seek to assemble a coalition to confront ISIS. President Barack Obama has said that the goal is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.

But the White House has not said yet whether Syria, a country President Obama has long been wary of becoming involved in military, would be included its efforts.

“It has been very hard to see a military solution to the conflict in Syria,” Rasmussen said. “And still I think a long-term, sustainable solution will take a strong political and diplomatic effort.”

“But the bottom line is that we have seen the rise of this terrorist organization, the Islamic State, that has committed horrific atrocities, and now I see it as an obligation for the international community to stop it, to defeat it, and take the necessary steps to that end.”

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

'There was fraud committed on both sides' says U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan

August 26th, 2014
12:10 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

Afghanistan is in a state of paralysis.

On the day of this interview the new Afghan President was supposed to be inaugurated, instead the country remains in a political deadlock.

Is the nation going to be able to take significant steps forward any time soon?

The United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, James B. Cunningham, seems to think so.

"There's actually been quite a bit of progress," he told Christiane Amanpour.

"What they've agreed is that there will be a president; there will be what's called a chief executive officer, not a prime minister, because that position doesn't exist under the Afghan constitution. It may later, but it doesn't now."

"All the details of how to do that are what they're sorting out right now."

Amanpour asked about the probability of a candidate being inaugurated by the new designated date of September 2nd.

"I think it's possible," said the diplomat. "It's an important opportunity for a president to be declared and to get him on to the international stage at the NATO summit a few days later."

"We'll keep trying to help them reach that goal"

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Envoy ‘reasonably confident’ about Afghan political future

July 15th, 2014
07:09 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As the U.S. brokers a deal to try to stave off political calamity in Afghanistan, the American special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan said he was hopeful and “reasonably confident” that the country can hold together politically.

“I think it will depend first of all on the leadership exercised by the two candidates” – Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani – “in forming a national unity government and then working together over the next several years.

“It will also depend on their ability to hold their supporters to this agreement as well. I think they have the capacity to do that. I think they are committed to working together.”

Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise trip to Kabul this weekend to broker a deal between the rival presidential candidates, who have both claimed victory in their country’s election and alleged massive fraud.

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Abdullah: Half of Afghan ballots are ‘suspicious’

July 8th, 2014
02:48 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah alleged massive fraud in his country’s election in an interview with CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

“Half of the ballot papers used are considered to be suspicious based on standard critereas [sic], universal critereas of free and fair elections,” Abdullah, the country’s former foreign minister, said from Kabul.

Preliminary results from last month’s election were announced yesterday, and showed Abdullah’s opponent, former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani, with the lead.

Ghani on Tuesday said the preliminary results were “legitimate and credible.”

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Latest Episode

Could Afghanistan be the next Iraq?

June 25th, 2014
03:32 PM ET

By Claire Calzonetti, CNN

Could Afghanistan be the next Iraq?

“If you think about what the lessons of Iraq are, I hope that every Afghan is sitting in the evening thinking clearly about the lessons of Iraq,” Marc Grossman – the former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan – told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

The violence rocking Kabul and other parts of the country – with another four killed today, and 27 dead since summer offensive began – raises the harsh specter of an Iraq-like disaster once U.S. and NATO forces pull out at the end of the year.

No one knows the pitfalls and the possibilities better than former ambassador Marc Grossman, who was the Obama Administration's point man in some of the toughest yet vital peace negotiations

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode
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