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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Afghanistan
3:19 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Attack On Kabul Restaurant Prompts Security Review

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 6:04 am

Non-governmental organizations and restaurants are raising security protocols in the Afghan capital Kabul after last week's attack on a popular Lebanese restaurant. Twenty-one people, mostly foreigners, were killed. Some members of the international community say they anticipate more violence as elections draw closer.

Afghanistan
9:35 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Kabul Suicide Attack Kills 21 At Downtown Restaurant

At least 21 people — most of them foreigners — died when the Taliban struck a restaurant popular with Westerners in downtown Kabul on Friday. Two of them were Americans. It appeared to be a well-coordinated attack.

Afghanistan
3:12 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Mistrust And Miscommunication Stand In The Way Of Afghan Deal

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The U.S. and Afghanistan are locked in a standoff over a security agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014. That's when the NATO mission there ends. Analysts say part of the reason the two countries can't close the deal is because they just don't understand each other.

NPR's Sean Carberry reports from Kabul.

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Afghanistan
4:42 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Will Afghan Polling Data Help Alleviate Election Fraud?

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 6:03 am

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has commissioned a series of polls to see who Afghans favor in the April election. But between security challenges and "social desirability" biases, it can be difficult to impossible to get a clear read of the Afghan people.

Afghanistan
10:53 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Texas Man Becomes Unlikely CFO Of Ragged Kabul Orphanage

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

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

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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Parallels
1:25 am
Fri December 27, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:27 am

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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Afghanistan
2:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

NATO Prepares To Leave Afghanistan, And No U.S. Security Deal Yet

A look back and a look ahead as NATO prepares for the final year of its mission in Afghanistan. This year saw several major events as Afghan forces took responsibility for security and the U.S. and Afghanistan came close, but have so far failed to ink a security deal to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends next year.

Afghanistan
2:55 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Major Gen. McConville Praises U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:04 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now for the 13th year in a row, U.S. troops are spending Christmas in Afghanistan. For the 7,500 of them based in the eastern part of the country, Major General James McConville is providing the closest thing to a visit from Santa.

NPR's Sean Carberry has been traveling with McConville - not by sleigh, but in the air.

(SOUNDBITE OF HELICOPTER ROTOR)

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Parallels
1:06 am
Wed December 4, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:28 pm

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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Parallels
3:38 am
Sat November 30, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 4:17 pm

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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Afghanistan
3:14 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Karzai Stalls On U.S. Troop Presence In Afghanistan

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 11:28 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

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Afghanistan
6:23 am
Sun November 24, 2013

Afghan Assembly Approves Security Plan, But Karzai Delays

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

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 11:50 am

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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Afghanistan
3:14 pm
Sat November 23, 2013

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

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 5:15 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.

Afghanistan
3:43 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Afghans Debate Future U.S. Military Presence

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:55 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Parallels
11:57 am
Tue November 19, 2013

How Will Afghan Forces Fare As NATO Troops Draw Down?

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

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 3:54 pm

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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Parallels
3:25 am
Thu November 14, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:33 pm

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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Parallels
1:19 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Afghan Air Force Races To Prepare For Solo Mission

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

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 3:11 am

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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Parallels
9:34 am
Wed October 30, 2013

How NATO Is Trying To Change The Narrative In Afghanistan

Afghan National Army Commandos attend their graduation ceremony in Kabul in July. Foreign combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after handing over all security responsibilities to Afghan forces.
S. Sabawoon EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 3:24 am

As he prepared to deploy earlier this year, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the No. 2 commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, found that people seemed to have forgotten about Afghanistan.

"The opinion that he gathered was nobody was interested anymore," explains Col. Chris Garver, a spokesman for ISAF Joint Command in Kabul. "[Gen. Milley] came over here with the goal to say, 'Well, let's try and get people interested; let's try to explain to people where we are.' "

And, with that, this past summer ISAF launched a new offensive in the war to inform.

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Parallels
11:56 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Are Afghanistan's Schools Doing As Well As Touted?

An Afghan child writes on a blackboard at a school built by German troops in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif. The number of students enrolled in Afghan schools has skyrocketed since the fall of the Taliban at the end of 2001.
Farshad Usyan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 4:25 pm

It's one of the most touted "positive statistics" about Afghanistan: Today, there are 10 million Afghans enrolled in school, 40 percent of them female.

Under the Taliban, about 1 million boys and almost no girls were attending schools. Western officials routinely point to the revived education system as a sign of success and hope for the future.

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Afghanistan
5:49 am
Sun October 13, 2013

Kerry, Afghans Reach Deal On Troop Withdrawal

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 6:47 am

In marathon talks in Kabul, Secretary of State John Kerry persuaded the reluctant Afghan president to agree to a deal on the planned withdrawal of American troops next year. While some questions about the agreement remain unresolved, it marks a diplomatic victory for Kerry. Now it is up to Karzai to sell it to his people.

Afghanistan
1:03 am
Tue October 8, 2013

As Afghan Presidential Race Begins, Warlords Are Prominent

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

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 6:26 am

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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Parallels
4:10 am
Sun October 6, 2013

As Afghan Troops Take The Lead, They Take More Casualties

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

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 7:46 am

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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Parallels
9:09 am
Mon September 30, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 7:50 am

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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Parallels
1:29 am
Mon September 9, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 10:57 am

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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Parallels
1:45 am
Mon August 26, 2013

For Pakistan And Afghanistan, Soccer As Reconciliation

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

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 3:03 am

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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Afghanistan
3:08 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Some Afghans Already Cynical About Next Year's Election

April 5, 2014 — that's the day Afghans are scheduled to head to the polls to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai. He's constitutionally banned from running for a third term. But, in a country that loves a good conspiracy theory, many think that Karzai will find some way to stay in power. Even if he doesn't, there are still many questions about how free and fair next year's vote will be.

Afghanistan
1:03 am
Mon August 19, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 4:52 am

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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Afghanistan
1:58 am
Sun August 4, 2013

Regimental Combat Team 7 Rolls Up Its Flag In Afghanistan

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

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 12:42 pm

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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Parallels
5:38 am
Sun July 28, 2013

A Simple Visa Request Vs. Afghan Bureaucracy

The collection line outside Kabul's Passport Office. NPR producer Sultan Faizy spent more than two weeks trying to get reporter Sean Carberry's visa renewed.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 6:53 am

You think getting a passport or renewing your driver's license in the U.S. is a headache? Well, welcome to Afghan bureaucracy. On July 7, Kabul correspondent Sean Carberry asked producer Sultan Faizy to begin the process of renewing Sean's six-month resident visa. Here's Sultan's log of what happened:

July 7: I took the application letter along with the copies of Sean's work permit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Security wouldn't let me in with my press ID. After more than 30 minutes of calling the media department, I was able to drop off the letter.

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Afghanistan
2:13 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Some Afghans Worried As NATO Withdrawal Deadline Nears

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 4:16 pm

It's been a bad month in U.S.-Afghan relations and efforts to negotiate a long-term security pact have been sidelined by a series of controversies and rhetorical bombshells. As the end of the NATO mission creeps closer, Afghans are increasingly worried that the bad atmospherics between Washington and Kabul could leave the Afghan people without enough U.S. support and vulnerable to predatory neighbors.

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