Context & Culture

Kabul’s kitschy wedding cake architecture

Kabul is a city of dramatic contrasts. In the streets, shiny black-windowed limousines drive immediately alongside scruffy pushcarts with wobbly wheels. On the sidewalks, one-legged beggars hold out hands to well-dressed business men in sharp, knitted suits and gleaming shoes. In the built environment, too, these contrasts seem nearly infinite writes our guest blogger Anne […]

Talking Pashto (1): One-Liner of the Week

Today, we start a little series with important Pashto expressions for field use. It is meant to complement the electronic translation computers handed out to the international forces which – reportedly – contain useful phrases like: “Lasuna porta!” (Hands up!), “Mulla Omar cheri dey?” (Where is Mulla Omar?) and “Hawayi maidan kum taraf dey?” (Which […]

Talking Haqqani

‘Totally baseless, a lie and no truth in it’. This is what an Afghan presidential spokesman said after a not-too-unimportant TV station reported contacts between Kabul and the Haqqani network, the most ruthless outfit of the Afghan insurgency. Is there no fire at all for all the smoke? asks Thomas Ruttig. It all started with […]

Flash to the Past: Football under the Taleban (1)

he World Cup 2010 in South Africa is in its first round of the knock-out stage. It has seen favourite teams crashing and others shining. Afghanistan did not qualify. It lost both first round Asia qualification matches against Syria 1:5 on aggregate. Afghanistan’s only scorer was Obaidullah Karimi who plays for Hamm United FC in […]

The revolt of the good guys in Gizab

A recent Washington Post article recounts how a group of local villagers in Gizab district revolted against the Taliban and kicked them out – with the help from US and Australian Special Forces. It reads as a good news story. A quoted US commander described the takeover as “perhaps the most important thing that has […]

A New Taleban Front?

The Taleban successfully have infiltrated Northern and Northeastern Afghanistan and destabilised certain areas, mainly in Kunduz province. Now, there are signs that they might attempt to push forward into mainly Hazara-settled areas the central region. The main road into Jaghori, an important Hazara area, has been blocked raising fears of a new economic blockade or […]

Drugs, plots and stockpiles: Afghanistan’s failing poppy crop

A mysterious desease is spreading through Afghanistan’s poppy fields: Is it a secret counter-narcotics operation or simply caused by nature? And what do ‘the markets say’? Answers given by Kate Clark, AAN Senior Analyst ‘Reports of a “mysterious” fungus that has damaged opium poppy crops in Afghanistan have hit international headlines’ writes a breathless commentator […]

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