Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Context and Culture

This thematic area encompasses the wide array of subjects that illustrate Afghanistan’s rich history, arts, literature and culture, and the many ways Afghan society is changing and evolving.

Flash from the Past: Missed Opportunities for Reconciliation

Anand Gopal

Our guest author Anand Gopal (*) looks back how chances for integrating Taleban into Afghanistan’s past-2001 political system were squandered and how the alienation of leading former commanders in Kandahar became a key motivating factor in sparking the insurgency. Therefore, the original article had the following sub-line: ‘The Victor’s Hubris and the Failure of Reconciliation’. […]

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If you want to learn Pashto…

AAN Team

Sean Mann, a research intern at our partner organisation TLO, has put together an online bibliography to Pashto learning materials. It includes textbooks, dictionaries, multimedia, radio, university courses, etc. It is called ‘Pashto Language Resources’ and is hosted on Christian Bleuer’s ‘Afghanistan Analyst’ website – use this link. You can start with the following sentence: کاڼه […]

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Afghanistan Bird Watch 2: Birds on the Wire

AAN Team

Earlier this afternoon shortly before grey clouds rising over Paghman let the sun disappear and brought a short drizzle, three bottle-green parakeets darted across the airspace over our AAN garden, between the high pine trees, the grapevines (that did not carry this year) and the neighbouring house’s wall on which his pigeons gather. This reminded […]

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Talking Pashto 2: 40 countries, two options

Thomas Ruttig

We continue our series of mini Pashto lessons, not with a poem or a proverb this time, but with a short and striking sentence I heard from a campaigner for one of the woman candidates in Paktia yesterday. ‘Da de tsalwexht pe sha-o-khwa hewaduna dwa lare lari: De edari fasad per zed mubareza – ya […]

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Talking Dari (1): The Road to Turkestan

Thomas Ruttig

Today, we continue our little series with important Afghan-language expressions that are useful to describe political situations in striking accuracy. This time we turn to one of the most famous Iranian poets – so actually we also could say ‘Talking Farsi’ here. But let’s not be too nitty-gritty. ترسم نرسی به کعبه ای اعرابی کین ره […]

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... and Amanullah the reformer-king, with Queen Soraya.

Afghan Encounters in Europe or: How My Grandma Saw King Amanullah – Part 3

Thomas Ruttig

In the third and final part of a little series, Thomas Ruttig takes you on a journey in G.H. Wells’ time machine, back to Berlin in the year 1928 when Afghan King Amanullah visited the German capital as first head of state after the end of Kaiser Wilhelm’s monarchy. Read how the King drove the […]

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Afghan Encounters in Europe or: How My Grandma Saw King Amanullah – Part 2

Thomas Ruttig

Thomas Ruttig takes you on a short trip on Afghan traces in central Europe, this time encountering Afghanistan’s cultural heritage saved from looting and destruction and shown at a museum in Germany’s former capital. II. Bonn on the Rhine One of the major cultural venues in the town that was (West) Germany’s capital for more […]

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Afghan Encounters in Europe or: How My Grandma Saw King Amanullah – Part 1

Thomas Ruttig

Summertime, vacation time. But an Afghan analyst finds it difficult to get away from his chosen subject even then. Sometimes, even pure chance leads him back on track – as on a short trip through Switzerland and Germany. Travel notes from Thomas Ruttig. I. La Gruyère, Switzerland This little town in the Fribourg Alps, known […]

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Kabul’s kitschy wedding cake architecture

Anne Feenstra

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 […]

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

Thomas Ruttig

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 […]

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Talking Haqqani

Thomas Ruttig

‘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 […]

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Flash from the Past: Football under the Taleban (2) – Nobody Shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’

Thomas Ruttig

Kabul Olympic Stadium sometimes was turned in to an arena for executions and floggings under the Taleban regime. For this, it became world-famous. But to do the venue some justice, most of the time it was used for proper sports. Thomas Ruttig visited a match there – football in Afghanistan 2000: Air goals by funnily […]

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