Sep 17, 2019

Taliban attacks kill at least 48 in Afghanistan after U.S. peace talks fail

Relatives of victims arrive outside a hospital after a suicide attack that targeted a campaign rally for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Abdul Shahmim Tanha/AFP/Getty Images

The Taliban claimed responsibility for 2 attacks on Tuesday that killed at least 48 people and targeted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani — who was unharmed — at a campaign event, AP reports.

Why it matters: These are the deadliest attacks by the group since peace negotiations with the U.S. were abruptly called off by President Trump earlier this month. The Taliban has used attacks against the Afghan government and foreign forces to scare people from voting in the presidential elections at the end of the month, per Al-Jazeera.

  • The Taliban said they plan to target polling stations and campaign rallies, prompting some candidates to suspend their campaigns, per AP.

Details:

  • The first attack targeted Ghani's campaign rally in Chaikar, which is north of Kabul. At least 26 people died during this attack, with more than 40 wounded after a suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted the entrance of the rally, according to Al-Jazeera.
  • The second attack occurred in Kabul near the U.S. embassy. The Taliban claims they were targeting an Afghan army base and killed 22 people in the bombing, per AP.

Go deeper: Trump says he called off secret meeting with Taliban in U.S. over Kabul blast

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Afghanistan elections: Turnout strikingly low despite few Taliban attacks

An Afghan soldier casts his ballot in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sept. 28, 2019. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Afghanistan's presidential election didn't see as much violence from the Taliban as some anticipated, but voter turnout was still shockingly low with fewer than 2.5 million showing up at the polls, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The low turnout suggests that whoever wins the elections will "enter office with a weak mandate to lead the struggling democracy and possibly launch peace talks with the Taliban," per the Post. Polls show that current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his government’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, are the main contenders, but official results aren't expected until Oct. 17, according to the Post.

Go deeperArrowSep 28, 2019

Mark Esper: Trump ordered stepped-up military operations in Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Mark Esper (L) and President Trump (R). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Mark Esper indicated on Friday that President Trump has ordered the U.S. military to step up attacks against militants in Afghanistan following failed peace talks with the Taliban, Politico reports.

Where it stands: A Taliban delegation recently met with U.S. diplomat and special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad for informal discussions in the Pakistani capital, the New York Times reports. Taliban members did not identify the talks as formal peace discussions, but said "that one may take place in the future."

Go deeperArrowOct 5, 2019

Trump heads to UN General Assembly against backdrop of global crises

President Trump. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

President Trump will join 192 other world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York City this week for 5 days of speeches and hundreds of meetings — all coming against the backdrop of a string of international crises.

Why it matters: From the China trade war to growing tensions with Iran, the president is facing down multiple global hotspots and a number of unresolved foreign policy deals as he heads to the world’s most prominent diplomatic stage. The self-described "dealmaker" has thus far failed to de-escalate tensions with Iran, North Korea, China, the Taliban, and Israel and Palestine.

Go deeperArrowSep 22, 2019