Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Obaid Ali

Civil Society's symbolic cabinet. Photo courtesy of Khaama.

104 Days Without a Government – and Counting: The national mood sours

Kate Clark Obaid Ali Thomas Ruttig

More than three months after President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah were inaugurated, they have still not formed a government. That continuing lack of a cabinet has meant public confidence and patience – which, at the time of the inauguration, ran high – are now wearing thin. A civil society […]

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The Empty Streets of Mohammad Agha: Logar’s struggle against the Taleban

Obaid Ali

Logar province has become a dangerous place to live for many residents. The number of violent incidents and assassinations of locals committed by Taleban has increased starkly. AAN’s Obaid Ali describes how the Taleban intimidate and exploit the people of this province just south of Kabul and how they challenge local security forces, especially the […]

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Streets of Khanabad. Photo: Ministry of Defence of the Netherlands, under creative commons license

Security in Kunduz Worsening Further: The case of Khanabad

Obaid Ali Christian Bleuer

Kunduz has had the worst security environment of any province in the north for the past few years. And within this province there are several districts that are particularly notable for the intractable conflicts raging within them. One notable area in this regard is Khanabad district, where government forces, nominally pro-government militias, illegal armed groups […]

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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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Security Forces Spread Thin: An update from contested Faryab province

Obaid Ali

On the day after the Afghan vote, nearly unnoticed in the election frenzy, Faryab province experienced yet another complex Taleban attack. Taleban fighters stormed large parts of Qaisar district, and ruled the area for almost three weeks. The Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan Local Police (ALP) retreated immediately, outnumbered and faced with more and […]

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Elections 2014 (22): How disenchantment with General Dostum split the Uzbek vote bank

Obaid Ali Thomas Ruttig

The outcome in the Uzbek- and Turkmen-dominated provinces in northern Afghanistan of the first round of the 5 April presidential election has turned in an unexpected direction. Jombesh-e Melli-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan’s (The National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan), the self-declared dominating party in this region, had expected to obtain the entire ‘Turkic’ vote for the Ghani-Dostum […]

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Cheating and Worse: The university entry (kankur) exams as a bottleneck for higher education

Obaid Ali

Getting into university via the so called kankur exam is one of the highest hurdles for Afghanistan’s young generation wanting to obtain higher education. Each year, there are allegations of corruption, fraud and flawed management of the exams while the number of high school graduates sitting them increases. AAN’s Obaid Ali (with input by Christine […]

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Autumn Pastimes, or the Other Fighting Grounds of Afghanistan

Obaid Ali

Bird fighting has an ancient history as a common autumn pastime among Afghans. As soon as the weather gets colder, various tournaments take place among bird enthusiasts, either in the open air or in a warm arena, depending on what sort of birds are fighting. In Kabul, the favourite birds to take the field are […]

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Shocks in a Lacklustre Speech: President Karzai addresses the jirga

Christine Roehrs Kate Clark Obaid Ali

The consultative loya jirga, convened to scrutinise the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States, has begun with a draft that was only agreed at the very last minute, confusion over the exact status and proceedings of the gathering and a lacklustre speech by President Karzai. The president made little attempt to really sell the […]

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“As Easy As Growing Potatoes”: How formerly ‘poppy-free’ Ghor is at risk of becoming an important player in Afghanistan’s opium business

Obaid Ali

Ghor province has been considered poppy-free for a long time, but in the past two years opium production and drug trafficking have picked up sharply. With insecurity in the province on the rise, obstructing income sources and basic services, many of Ghor’s farmers migrated to neighbouring provinces like Helmand, helping in the local drug production […]

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Pupils as Pawns: Plundered education in Ghor

Obaid Ali

Empty classrooms, fake girls’ schools, teachers’ salaries siphoned off by warlords: in Ghor province in Afghanistan’s west, the shadows of strongmen loom large and schools, too, have become pawns in the power struggle between rival factions. AAN’s Obaid Ali has visited this remote, poor and conflict-ridden province and – in this second of three dispatches […]

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“You Must Have a Gun to Stay Alive”: Ghor, a province with three governments

Obaid Ali

For many, Ghor is a blank spot on the map. Not much is reported from this large, mountainous province in the west of Afghanistan, but that does not mean it is a quiet place. Thousands of armed men led by criminals and “freelance” commanders, as well as a growing number of Taleban, roam Ghor’s districts. […]

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