Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inside Kandahar Today

Portraits of a city under siege
The National, May 13, 2010

Alex Strick van Linschoten reports from Kandahar, a city scarred by daily violence and nervously awaiting the attention of America’s next offensive.

If you want to find out how insecure Kandahar has become, visit the glass-fitter in the bazaar. If he’s wearing a new waistcoat you’ll know that business is booming and things are bad: every explosion in the centre of the city blows out most windows in a two kilometre radius. Most offices, shops and government departments are squeezed into a small section of town – Kandahar really does resemble a town more than a city – and all these people have just replaced all their windows for the ninth time in two years.

Almost nine years of mismanagement and neglect have allowed the Taliban to rebuild their movement as a heterogenous collection of insurgent franchises; Afghan government institutions have alienated large swathes of local society and pushed them directly into the hands of Taliban recruiters. The hope and promise of the first few years died a slow death in full view of the public, as allies supported and funded by foreign governments used their influence and power for their own purposes. All this was expertly exploited by the Taliban, who now are the de facto authority in Kandahar City and in the outlying districts: shops and markets pay taxes to a central authority, warning letters to “government collaborators” receive an official “Islamic Emirate” stamp, and deals between district government officials and their Taliban counterparts are par for the course outside the city.

For complete article, click here
McChrystal: Kandahar push results will take months - AP
Poppy Blight Could Hinder Taliban - WSJ
Clinton to Afghan women: 'We will not abandon you' - AP
Top soldier in southern Afghanistan warns against Taliban 'impunity' - Telegraph
Afghans wary as NATO rebrands Kandahar "process" - Reuters
Obama: Afghan war will worsen before it improves - Yahoo News

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