Strained relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. and NATO may only get worse this week. The Afghan government is releasing 65 prisoners, many of whom have been accused by the West of plotting and participating in terrorist activities. Robert Siegel speaks with Nathan Hodge of The Wall Street Journal to learn more about the rationale behind this release and what it might mean for Afghan security and diplomacy.
The men were released over the strong objections of U.S. military commanders, who say the 65 include some who have attacked soldiers and civilians. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai says there isn't enough evidence to justify holding the prisoners.
Eleven candidates are trying to replace Hamid Karzai in the April 5 election. Ten are Pashtuns, the dominant ethnic group. Candidates are already holding rallies, debating and wooing the support of tribal leaders. Here's a rundown of the top contenders.
The housing bubble in Afghanistan was created by the influx of international organizations and their thousands of workers over the last 12 years. As countries pull out of Afghanistan, rent prices are tumbling, vacancies are soaring and sales have flatlined.
This coming week, the U.S. Agency for International Development plans to announce a new monitoring program that is designed to keep track of the aid dollars being spent in Afghanistan. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Larry Sampler, head of USAID programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The United Nations has just released a grim report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan over the last year. Casualties rose 14 percent in 2013, with nearly 3,000 people killed and more than 5,500 injured.
President Hamid Karzai has balked at signing a security agreement with the U.S. According to The New York Times, representatives of the Taliban and Karzai have been in contact about a peace deal. It's thought Karzai may not want to sign the deal with the U.S. while he's talking to the Taliban.
One of the most dramatic changes in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban is the increase in life expectancy from 45 to 62 years. That gain is almost entirely a function of reductions in child mortality due to the spread of basic health services.
With the presidential campaigns underway, one of the questions commonly asked around Kabul is whether the election will be held at all this year. If it is, there are a handful of candidates who are likely to come out ahead.
Steve Inskeep talks to former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad about the ongoing stalemate between Afghan president Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration over the signing of a security agreement for U.S. troops.
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