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.

Hamed Karzai as translator for Pir Gailani, likely in 1992. Source: archive/unknown (please let us known when you have the copyright for this)

Book Excerpt: Scenes of Afghan History – Hamed Karzai before 2001

AAN Team

As many influential Pashtuns, in the country and the diaspora, the Karzai family – and Hamed Karzai himself – offered support to the Taleban after they emerged in 1994 but were rejected by the movement’s leadership. They turned against them and – after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 – made overtures to the ‘Northern Alliance’ […]

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With a Little Help From His Friends: A new biography of Hamed Karzai

Thomas Ruttig

With only a few days left in the last of Karzai’s two 5-year tenures as head of state (the inauguration of his – still unknown – successor has just been postponed again), Dutch journalist Bette Dam presents the reviewed and updated English version of her biography of the politician who has shaped Afghanistan’s last 14 […]

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Ahmad Zaher or Manga Style? The cutting-edge business of Afghan barbers

Obaid Ali

A young Afghan man’s morning, across the country, often starts with a time-consuming session of arranging his hair. Afghan men are proud of their usually thick, glossy tufts and barbers accordingly make good business providing their style-hungry customers with the latest cuts. This has tradition. A variety of distinct hairstyles can be seen on photographs […]

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The Mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Durrani in Kandahar, where the Cloak was initially meant to be hosted. Photo: Fabrizio Foschini

Under the Cloak of History: The Kherqa-ye Sharif from Faizabad to Kandahar

Bette Dam Fabrizio Foschini

These are hard times for holy shrines in many Muslim countries. Often targeted by fundamentalist militants who reject practices of popular religious devotion as un-Islamic, many ancient and famous ziarats have been destroyed or damaged. The last on the list seems to have been the tomb of Yunus (Jonah) near Mosul, Iraq, reportedly blown up […]

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Happy Eid al Fitr!

AAN Team

While many Afghans seem tired of the long electoral process, and despite the concerns and uncertainties felt by the Afghan people, we hope that the coming Eid Al Fitr can bring happy days to all. The Afghanistan Analysts Network wishes a very happy and peaceful Eid Al Fitr to all Muslims, and particularly to the […]

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Afghanistan in World War I (1): Afghans in the Kaiser’s jihad

Thomas Ruttig

 A hundred years ago, on 28 July 1914, the First World War started when Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia after a group of young pro-independence Serbian terrorists shot dead the Austro-Hungarian crown prince in Sarajevo one month earlier. Soon, millions were dying on the battlefields across four continents in what was termed the “first global […]

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Memorials and Patrons: How northern Afghan elites try to own history

S Reza Kazemi

Elites in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Balkh province and most important city in the north, have, in recent years, supported the building of new memorials and re-naming of the city’s streets and intersections. They are also sponsoring intellectuals and their literary and artistic output. These are politically driven cultural projects, attempts by the leading […]

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breakdance master class in Kabul

A Break(dance) from the Elections: The street hits the Kabul stage

payvand

As election chaos and fraught discussions over Afghanistan’s future weary even the most passionate activist, there is a fringe of Afghans only minimally concerned with politics who spend their time… breakdancing? Not the most intuitive choice for young citizens of a country where many still frown on music and dance. Or perhaps it is the […]

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Death of a Sahebzada: A story of different strands of thought in the Taleban movement

Bette Dam

Earlier this year, a radical Afghan religious leader from a family of Sufi Pirs was murdered in Quetta, Pakistan. His name was Abdullah Zakeri Sahebzada. His relationships with the Taleban’s leadership and repeated calls for international jihad had earned him the ‘Taleb’ label in some media. But Zakeri, once a mediator in the Taleban movement, had […]

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Bala Hissar, Sherpur fortress and Arg: The architecture of power in Kabul

Bill Woodburn

Throughout the centuries, the seat of power in Kabul has almost always been within the walls of a strong fortress-palace. That will continue, as whatever the outcome of the current election, the new president will continue to live in the Arg. Guest author Bill Woodburn*, retired military engineer and specialist in fortified architecture, traces the […]

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Taste the Samanak! Wishing you a Happy New Year with ancient culinary treats

AAN Team

The celebration of Nawruz, the New Year, on the 21st of March by the peoples of the region between Anatolia and Central Asia dates back some thousands of years. This year it is Afghanistan’s turn to host the Nawruz International Festival, which sees the presidents of several countries of the region gather for a joint […]

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Past Is Prologue or: A tale of two Olympics

Anthony Agnello

Shortly before a historic and emotionally laden Olympic hockey match between American and Russian athlets in 1980, the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan. The US, at that time, had actually already started its covert operation to support the mujahedin against the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul; it would be their fight that would finally lead to the Soviet withdrawal. In […]

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