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.

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 […]

Context and Culture Read more

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 […]

Context and Culture Read more

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

Kate Clark

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 […]

Context and Culture Read more

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

Kate Clark

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 […]

Context and Culture Read more

“Oh let it rain, let it rain on the fields, let it drench the head scarf of my beloved”

Kate Clark

Going to Bamian and Yakaolang brings up a lot of memories and shows how times have changed since Taleban times. An AAN ‘travel blog’, by Kate Clark, currently a Senior Analyst with AAN. Getting out of Kabul for me usually means heading to the hot and dusty south or south east to report on the […]

Context and Culture Read more

Flash from the Past: Islamic Order à la Hekmatyar

Thomas Ruttig

The following statement was broadcast by HIG’s radio Payyam-e Azadi (Message of Freedom) in Pashto on 9 December 1994. Statement of the Military Command of Hezb-e Islami Afghanistan and Sepah-e Nur [Hezb’s military forces]. To the attention of all shop and restaurant owners and the noble population of Chahrasyab [a district capital in the South […]

Context and Culture Read more

Gulbuddin ante portas – again (Updated)

Thomas Ruttig

After the Soviet troop had withdrawn in early 1989, leaflets turned up in Kabul signed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar announcing that he would ride into Kabul on the back of a white horse and pray in Pul-e Kheshti mosque. That made many Kabulis shiver. They said that the mujahedin leader was ‘worse than the Russians’ and […]

Context and Culture Read more

Elvis Ain’t Dead: The story of Marja

Thomas Ruttig

He has been spotted in Marja (Helmand, Southern Afghanistan). The only problem is: Marja does not exist. Because it is not on Google Earth. And Operation Moshtarak in Helmand is a fake. But let me start from the beginning. Back in Kabul, as usual the unexpected happened: The rumour of the day did not come […]

Context and Culture Read more

Afghanistan in World Literature (II): Dr Watson Sent Packing

Thomas Ruttig

With part II of this series, we present a few pieces of colonial literature, featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling. This part, of course, is clearly not exhausted yet. An apparent survivor of another Afghan tragedy became famous amongst fans of crime literature: no one less than Dr Watson, assistant of the masterly […]

Context and Culture Read more

Rules and Empty Promises

Martine van Bijlert

I have finally arrived in Kabul, after spending several days travelling half the world to get a visa for Afghanistan. My quest started in Dubai, where in the past it had been relatively easy to get multiple entry, multiple months. I had heard about a new system that involved getting a “Mofa number” (i.e. a […]

Context and Culture Read more

A Note from the (Soccer) Field

AAN Guests

Here a dispatch received and sent in by ONE OF OUR FRIENDS in Afghanistan. It seems that not only the Africa Cup of Nations (with the attack on the Togo team bus) is overshadowed by violence. The dispatch has been slightly edited. For your information: In Kandahar province a football tournament has started on Friday […]

Context and Culture Read more

Afghanistan in World Literature (I): Only One Came Home from Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig

A not too serious Essay: It wasn’t always the case that Afghanistan was a household name around the world as it is today. Before 1979 when the Soviet invasion suddenly brought Afghanistan to everyone’s attention, even world-class writers would rarely touch upon Afghanistan at all. A few exceptions will follow in this series. PREFACE It […]

Context and Culture Read more