Sean Carberry

Sean Carberry is NPR's international correspondent based in Kabul. His work can be heard on all of NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Prior to moving into his current role, he was responsible for producing for NPR's foreign correspondents in the Middle East and "fill-in" reporting. Carberry travels extensively across the Middle East to cover a range of stories such as the impact of electricity shortages on the economy in Afghanistan and the experiences of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps.

Carberry has reported from more than two-dozen countries including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, and Iceland. In 2010, Carberry won the Gabriel Award Certificate of Merit for America Abroad's "The First Freedom," and in 2011 was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Award as lead producer and correspondent for America Abroad's series, "The Arab World's Demographic Dilemma."

Since joining NPR, Carberry worked with Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Tripoli for NPR's coverage of the fall of the Libyan capital. He also covered the post-US withdrawal political crisis in Baghdad in December 2011, and recently completed a two month fill-in reporting assignment in Kabul that led to his current role.

Before coming to NPR in 2011, Carberry worked at America Abroad Media where he served as technical director and senior producer in addition to traveling internationally to report and produce radio and multimedia content for America Abroad's monthly radio news documentaries and website. He also worked at NPR Member Station WBUR in Boston as a field and political producer, associate producer/technical director, and reporter, contributing to NPR, newscasts, and WBUR's Here and Now.

In addition to his journalistic accolades, Carberry is a well-rounded individual who has also been an assistant professor of music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, received a Gold Record as Recording Engineer for Susan Tedeschi's Grammy-Nominated album "Just Won't Burn," engineered music for the television program "Sex in the City," is a certified SCUBA diver, and is a graduate of the Skip Barber School of Auto Racing.

Carberry earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Lehigh University and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School, with a focus in Politics, National Security, and International Affairs.

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7:40am

Sun March 30, 2014
Middle East

Ruthless Warlord, Hero to Uzbeks, On Ballot In Afghan Elections

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 5:59 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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9:37am

Sat March 29, 2014
The Two-Way

Taliban Attack On Election HQ Makes Good On Campaign Promise

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 10:10 am

Afghan special forces rush to the scene as Taliban militants attack the main Afghan election commission's headquarters on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday.
Anja Niedringhaus AP

As officials from Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission were about to announce the closing of several polling stations due to insecurity on Saturday, the Taliban reinforced the message by launching an attack on the IEC headquarters in Kabul.

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4:56pm

Wed March 26, 2014
World

With Elections Days Away, Suicide Bombs Sow Fear In Kabul

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 8:24 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Kabul is a city on edge as the Afghan presidential election approaches. Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked an election commission office yesterday. They killed several workers and police officers. In the April 5th election, eight men are now vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai. The field narrowed today after the grandson of the country's last king dropped out of the race. He was not expected to do well.

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11:35am

Tue March 25, 2014
Parallels

Afghanistan's Election Heats Up — And So Do The Attacks

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 12:53 pm

Afghan Special Forces converge on an Independent Election Commission office after the Taliban launched an assault on the compound Tuesday in Kabul. Two suicide bombers detonated their vests outside the offices while gunmen stormed the building.
David Gilkey NPR

Afghanistan's election for a new president is less than two weeks away. That means the candidates are busy campaigning — and the Taliban are busy attacking.

The latest attack came Tuesday morning in Kabul when two suicide bombers detonated themselves outside one of the offices of the Independent Election Commission. Moments later, several gunmen ran inside and waged a three-hour gunbattle with dozens of Afghan police.

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4:28pm

Thu March 13, 2014
Afghanistan

As Afghan Tajiks Lay Leader To Rest, Eyes Turn To Political Future

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 6:35 pm

Afghanistan has lost its first vice president, a warlord who fought beside the U.S. against the Taliban. Mohammed Qasim Fahim's death presents his Tajik brethren a tough choice in upcoming elections.

8:53am

Tue February 11, 2014
Parallels

Who's Going To Be Afghanistan's Next President?

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 11:49 am

Afghan presidential candidates Qayum Karzai (from left), Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah take part in a televised debate in Kabul on Saturday. With President Hamid Karzai stepping down, the presidential election set for April 5 will mark the first time the country has changed leaders at the ballot box.
Wakil Kohsar AFP/Getty Images

The United States is winding down more than 12 years of military involvement in Afghanistan, and for most Americans, the country is rapidly fading into the background.

At the same time, Afghans are entering uncharted territory. President Hamid Karzai, who has led Afghanistan since shortly after the Taliban were ousted in 2001, is barred from running for a third term.

So Afghanistan is poised to do what it's never done before: change leaders through a democratic election.

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9:45am

Sat February 8, 2014
Afghanistan

U.N.: Civilian Casualities Rise In Afghanistan

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 11:38 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. In Afghanistan, the United Nation has just released its annual survey of civilian casualties in the country, and the news is grim. NPR's Sean Carberry reports from Kabul.

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: Last year at this time, there was a sense of optimism. Civilian casualties finally appeared to be declining. But the new report shows a 14 percent increase in civilian casualties in 2013 with nearly 3,000 killed and more than 5500 injured.

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4:46pm

Fri February 7, 2014
Middle East

Beneath The Bunting, Afghan Shadow Campaign Kicks Off

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 9:04 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Taliban also figure prominently in upcoming elections next door in Afghanistan. That country is poised to make history this spring by holding an election to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai. It would be Afghanistan's first ever democratic transition. The campaign officially began this week. And on the surface you'll find many of the trappings of a normal race, rallies, posters, debates But NPR's Sean Carberry reports that beneath the bunting and sloganeering lies a different story of vote buying and manipulation.

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4:38am

Tue February 4, 2014
Afghanistan

An Afghan Success Story: Fewer Child Deaths

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:12 am

A young girl receives a polio vaccine at the Isteqlal hospital in Kabul on Sept.19, 2011.
Adek Berry AFP/Getty Images

One of the most dramatic changes in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban is the increase in average 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.

Yet Afghanistan still has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world, and there could be significant backsliding as the international community reduces aid after NATO troops withdraw at the end of this year.

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1:05pm

Sun February 2, 2014
Parallels

Race Toward Afghan Election Starts, With Skepticism In The Lead

A campaign banner is posted in Kabul, Afghanistan, for presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday.
Omar Sobhani Reuters/Landov

With the campaign for Afghanistan's April 5 presidential election officially underway, three questions are commonly asked around Kabul: Do you think the presidential election will be held on April 5? Will the election be held at all this year? Who do you think will win?

Right now, 11 men are vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai, who is term-limited. If the election goes well, it would mark the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history.

The Issue Of Timing

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5:37pm

Mon January 20, 2014
Afghanistan

Punctured Tires In Kabul Are The Work Of Police, Not Punks

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 12:16 pm

NPR producer Sultan Faizy's car — parked right outside the NPR office in Kabul — was recently targeted by the police. Police say the policy is meant to prevent militants from stealing cars for use in bomb attacks.
Sean Carberry NPR

In Kabul, car theft isn't a big problem, but it is a big concern. Security officials fear that militants could use stolen vehicles as car bombs. So the police have turned to a rather controversial tactic to deter thieves.

On a recent evening, a guest left our office only to discover two of his car tires had been punctured. Moments later, my producer discovered two of his tires had been punctured. Both cars were parked on the side of the street in front of our office.

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12:53pm

Sat January 4, 2014
Afghanistan

Texas Man Becomes Unlikely CFO Of Ragged Kabul Orphanage

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 6:14 pm

Conditions are spare at the Window of Hope orphanage in Kabul, but American NGO worker Siavash Rahbari (upper left) says it's still better than how many Afghan children live.
Sean Carberry NPR

On Saturday afternoons, sometimes with a coworker or two, Siavash Rahbari drives up a rutted side street in Kabul to visit the Window of Hope orphanage.

In the living room, there are a dozen boys and two girls. Some are playing, while others lie around on mats on the floor, clearly suffering from a range of disabilities. Rahbari, a Texan who works at an NGO in Kabul, gives the children a cursory inspection.

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3:25am

Fri December 27, 2013
Parallels

Facing Big Changes, Anxious Afghans Hope For The Best In 2014

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 9:27 am

Women walk along on the street in Kabul, Afghanistan, last week. The country faces many changes next year, including a presidential election and the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. There are also concerns that advances made by women over the past decade could be in jeopardy.
Rahmat Gul AP

To many Afghans, 2014 is more than a year — it's a sword of Damocles hanging over the fragile nation. It's the year the country will elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.-led military mission will end. Many fear that will open the door to chaos.

But on a chilly winter day in Kabul, it's still business as usual in the city center.

In a stationary market, you can still buy calendars for this year — the year 1392. Afghanistan uses the Persian solar calendar, and in March the year 1393 begins.

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3:06am

Wed December 4, 2013
Parallels

There And Back Again: One Afghan's Journey To Find Home

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 9:28 pm

An Afghan man rides a horse at sunset on Nadir Khan hill in Kabul, Afghanistan. Auliya Atrafi paid thousands of dollars and risked his life to escape the Taliban-controlled country, only to return after 12 years living in England.
Rahmat Gul AP

In 2000, Auliya Atrafi paid thousands of dollars and risked his life to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. He spent 12 years in England getting educated and becoming a documentary filmmaker.

Last year, he gave up life in the West and returned home to southern Helmand province. Now, he's the father of twins and he's working in a rural government office while trying to readjust to life in a conservative society that he finds dysfunctional.

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5:38am

Sat November 30, 2013
Parallels

Crashing An Afghan Wedding: No Toasts But Lots Of Cheesy Music

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 6:17 pm

Afghans hold large, expensive weddings, even those involving families of modest means. More than 600 people attended this recent marriage at a large wedding hall in Kabul.
Sean Carberry NPR

Afghanistan may be one of the world's poorest countries, but weddings are still a big — and expensive — deal. On most weekends, Kabul's glitzy and somewhat garish wedding halls are packed with people celebrating nuptials.

One of them is the Uranos Palace complex. On the night I attended my first Afghan wedding, all three of its halls were overflowing. I was one of two foreigners in a room of about 200 men. The female guests sat on the other side of a 7-foot-high divider in the middle of the hall.

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8:23am

Sun November 24, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghan Assembly Approves Security Plan, But Karzai Delays

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 1:50 pm

Afghan President Hamid Karzai attends the Loya Jirga in Kabul on Sunday.
Rahmat Gul AP

A grand assembly of Afghan tribal elders and civil society leaders — the Loya Jirga — resoundingly approved an agreement to allow 3,000-9,000 U.S. troops to stay in the country after the NATO mission ends next year.

However, it remains unclear when — or if — President Hamid Karzai will sign the agreement.

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5:40pm

Sat November 23, 2013
Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Tribal Elders Get A Say In Security Pact With U.S.

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 7:15 pm

In Afghanistan, a grand assembly of some 2,500 tribal elders, politicians and civil society elites are meeting to decide whether to approve a security agreement with the United States. Approval by the grand assembly, called a loya jirga, would be in addition to the OK of the Afghan government. But as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has noted, the agreement can't go forward without the backing of the Afghan people. The security agreement would allow as many as 9,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after the current NATO mission ends next year.

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1:57pm

Tue November 19, 2013
Parallels

How Will Afghan Forces Fare As NATO Troops Draw Down?

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 5:54 pm

An Afghan soldier stands guard in the western city of Herat in October. U.S. Maj. Gen. James McConville, who commands coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, says Afghan forces did hold their ground this year, but "they're not winning by enough that the enemy is willing to stop fighting yet."
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

Shiite Muslims gathered in Kabul last week to celebrate Ashura, one of the holiest days on their religious calendar. Hundreds of shirtless men chanted and flogged themselves with chains tipped with knife-like shards of metal.

In the past, these public Shiite commemorations have become targets of the Taliban and other Islamist extremists. In 2011, a suicide bomber killed 56 Shiites marking Ashura. But this year, security was particularly tight.

Shopkeeper Noor Aga said the celebration was magnificent, and he felt safe.

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5:07am

Thu November 14, 2013
Parallels

Afghan Farmers: Opium Is The Only Way To Make A Living

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 8:33 pm

An Afghan farmer collects raw opium as he works in a poppy field in Nangarhar province on April 29. Poppy cultivation reached a record high this year despite Western efforts to reduce it.
Noorullah Shirzada AFP/Getty Images

Lashkar Gah is the capital of the volatile province that alone grows half of Afghanistan's opium poppy. Cultivation here grew by 34 percent over last year.

On Fridays, hundreds of men gather at the bazaar along the Helmand River, the lifeblood of this arid province. Vendors sell everything from livestock to boxes of artisanal medicine.

There's no sign of poppy here. In fact, the farmers we talk to like 26-year-old Khairullah, who goes by one name, say they are actually too poor to grow it.

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3:19am

Wed November 13, 2013
Parallels

Afghan Air Force Races To Prepare For Solo Mission

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 5:11 am

Afghan trainer Col. Din Mohammad, standing in front of a Soviet-made helicopter, speaks to new group of Afghan pilots and air crews at the Air Force University in Kabul on Jan. 16, 2012. The Afghan air force has only a small number of planes, pilots and spare parts and is attempting to ramp up training before the departure of U.S. and NATO forces.
Musadeq Sadeq AP

A gray C-130 Hercules flies low over the runway at Kabul airport. The four-engine cargo plane then climbs and banks to the left. Moments later, it lands and passes under the spray of two fire trucks before stopping in front of a crowd of officials.

This ceremony last month marked the official transfer of the first two C-130s from the U.S. to the Afghan air force.

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3:03am

Tue October 8, 2013
Afghanistan

As Afghan Presidential Race Begins, Warlords Are Prominent

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:26 am

Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, an influential lawmaker and religious scholar, waves at his supporters on Oct. 3, after registering his candidacy in next year's presidential election.
Rahmat Gul AP

As the war in Afghanistan enters its 13th year, the political and security situation there remains precarious. But the country is hoping to reach a milestone next spring: the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history.

And there's no shortage of candidates vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai — who is barred from running for a third term.

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6:10am

Sun October 6, 2013
Parallels

As Afghan Troops Take The Lead, They Take More Casualties

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:46 am

Afghan medics at Forward Operating Base Nolay in the southern province of Helmand treat an Afghan police officer shot by militants.
Sean Carberry NPR

The Taliban have been waging a particularly bloody offensive this year now that Afghan government forces are in charge of security. The result: Afghan army and police are suffering record numbers of casualties — far more than NATO ever did at the height of its troop presence in Afghanistan.

So even as NATO forces are preparing to leave, they are working to bolster the medical capabilities of Afghan forces at hospitals, clinics and training centers across the country.

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11:09am

Mon September 30, 2013
Parallels

A History Of Love Gone Wrong, All In One Croatian Museum

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:50 am

At the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, each item is accompanied by a story from the donor on how a romance fell apart.
Sean Carberry NPR

I confess I'm not much of a museum tourist. On a recent visit to Croatia's capital, Zagreb, I strolled past three museums without feeling any urge to step inside. Then I came across one I just couldn't ignore: the Museum of Broken Relationships.

"It's a collection of objects donated by people who have broken up," says Drazen Grubisic, a co-owner of the museum. "Each item has an accompanying story."

Some are amusing, others sarcastic and a few are just plain heartbreaking.

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3:29am

Mon September 9, 2013
Parallels

How To Build An Afghan Army, In A Million Difficult Steps

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 12:57 pm

Afghan soldiers and contractors are taught about the workings of a diesel-powered electrical generator at Forward Operating Base Nolay in Helmand province.
Sean Carberry NPR

It's 8 a.m. on a recent day at Forward Operating Base Nolay, a small Marine outpost in Taliban-infested Sangin District of southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. The Marines are in the process of caffeinating and preparing for the day.

Suddenly, explosions and gunfire ring out. The Marines don't run for their weapons or bunkers for that matter. They don't even flinch.

"We can sit here and we can have a cup of coffee when there's booms going on, we're not concerned about it," says Lt. Col. Jonathan Loney.

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3:45am

Mon August 26, 2013
Parallels

For Pakistan And Afghanistan, Soccer As Reconciliation

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 5:03 am

Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries that have a history of tense relations, played their first soccer match in nearly 40 years when they met Aug. 20 in Kabul. Afghanistan (in red) won 3-0.
Omar Sobhani Reuters/Landov

Afghanistan and Pakistan are better known for their verbal fights and occasional border clashes, but for the first time since 1976, they battled on a soccer field in Kabul.

Some 6,000 rabid Afghan fans cheered on their team, clad in red uniforms. There were horns, flags, and face paint. It looked like any soccer game in the world, except for all the riot police, snipers, and Blackhawk helicopters passing overhead periodically.

Ahmad Mirwais, a 27-year-old tailor, was one of those lucky enough to score a ticket.

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3:03am

Mon August 19, 2013
Afghanistan

In Kabul, A Juggling Act That Offers Joy For Afghan Kids

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 6:52 am

Students at the Afghan Mobile Mini Circus for Children participate in the juggling parade on the streets of Kabul before Afghanistan's eighth annual national juggling championship last week.
Sean Carberry NPR

Morning traffic in Kabul can be punishing enough as it is. But on a recent day, there's an extra element clogging up the streets, a scene you don't see on a typical day in the Afghan capital.

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3:58am

Sun August 4, 2013
Afghanistan

Regimental Combat Team 7 Rolls Up Its Flag In Afghanistan

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 2:42 pm

Regimental Combat Team 7 cases its flag during their mission's closing ceremony in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Sean Carberry NPR

At the peak of fighting in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, there were 20,000 Marines battling the Taliban. Now there are 8,000 — and more are heading home every month.

Among the latest to pack up was Regimental Combat Team 7.

At their mission's recent closing ceremony, several hundred Marines gathered in the scorching desert heat at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province. Their tan, pixelated fatigues blended in amidst the vast expanse of sand-colored tents and buildings of the largest Marine base in Afghanistan.

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7:09am

Tue July 23, 2013
Parallels

An Afghan Minister Fires Back At Impeachment Attempt

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 11:13 am

Ghulam Mujtaba Patang speaks at a news conference Monday after being dismissed from his post as Afghanistan's interior minister. He will stay in the post until the country's Supreme Court rules on the legality of his dismissal.
Mohammad Ismail Reuters /Landov

If you think it's tough being a Cabinet secretary in the U.S., having to deal with the demands of a fiercely partisan Congress and testify a few times a year, try being the Afghan interior minister.

"I have been summoned by the lower house 93 times, and 79 times by the upper house," says Ghulam Mujtaba Patang, who for the past 10 months has been in charge of the ministry that oversees the Afghan National Police.

"Based on this calculation, I have had one day in a week to work for the people," he says.

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3:02am

Tue July 23, 2013
Parallels

Despite Many Threats, Afghan TV Satire Mocks The Powerful

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 9:10 pm

Zang-e-Khatar, or Danger Bell, makes fun of government officials and other powerful figures in Afghanistan. Cast members are shown performing a skit during a taping of the show.
Sultan Faizy NPR

Saturday Night Live. The Daily Show. Zang-e-Khatar.

OK, maybe you haven't heard of that last one. But the comedy-sketch television show is well known in Afghanistan, where Zang-e-Khatar, or Danger Bell, is one of the most watched programs.

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3:09am

Sun July 14, 2013
Parallels

Despite Repeated Tries, Afghan Peace Efforts Still Sputter

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 4:48 pm

Afghan soldiers take positions following a clash with Taliban fighters on the outskirts of the eastern city of Jalalabad on July 7. The U.S. is trying to organize peace talks, but the latest effort has been put on hold while the fighting continues.
Noorullah Shirzada Getty Images

The U.S. has been pushing the Taliban and the Afghan government to find a political solution for the past year and a half. But every time it seems the parties are close to starting peace talks, a new demand or controversy arises and nothing happens.

In the latest attempt, the Taliban finally opened a political office in Qatar, a move that was supposed to set the stage for negotiations. But when the Taliban envoys gave that office the trappings of an embassy, a furious Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, called off the talks, and they have yet to be re-scheduled.

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