While U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker says there is a path toward relative stability in Afghanistan and away from a return to the kind of civil war that devastated the country in the early 1990s, the difficulties still facing that nation have been underscored by more violence:
-- CNN.com reports that "a bomb exploded inside a shop in the northern Afghanistan province of Faryab on Monday, killing nine people, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry."
-- On Sunday, The Associated Press writes, "an assassin armed with a silenced pistol shot dead a top member of the Afghan peace council at a traffic intersection in the nation's capital, police said. The killing strikes another blow to efforts to negotiate a political resolution to the decade-long war."
Still, there are these two related reports that offer somewhat more hopeful news:
-- "One of the most powerful men on the Taliban council, Agha Jan Motasim ... told The Associated Press Sunday that a majority of Taliban wants a peace settlement and that there are only 'a few' hard-liners in the movement."
-- Crocker, in an interview with NPR's Renee Montagne that aired on today's Morning Edition, said the long-term security and assistance agreement signed earlier this month by President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, can keep Afghanistan on a stable and relatively peaceful path.
According to Crocker, the warlords who infamously went to war with each other in the early '90s after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan are not looking to rekindle those fights. "It is a case of been there, done that," he said.
And, he believes the Taliban will eventually lay down its arms. "We can fight and talk [with the Taliban] at the same time," Crocker said. As the U.S. and its allies "keep whacking" the Taliban, reconciliation will come "when your opponent's no longer winning or no longer thinks they can win."