Private Security Companies Undermine Afghan Security

October 28th, 2010

Pul-i-Charkhi, Afghanistan — In a wood-paneled office here in the dusty fringes of Kabul, Hajji Shirin Dil feverishly works the phones. He shouts orders into one receiver as he dials another phone, while aides wait patiently to speak to him.

He could be Wall Street day trader, if not for the sleepy gunmen [...]

The Paradox of Boots on the Ground

June 29th, 2010

On a balmy summer’s day in the village of Hiratian in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, locals found the body of eight-year-old Dilawar hanging from a tree of a small fruit farm. Taliban fighters had accused the boy of spying for the American forces and had kidnapped him, strung him up and left his body to sway [...]

In Afghanistan Warzone, a Movie Theater Comes Back to Life

April 1st, 2010

Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan–Lashkar Gah is typical of the conservative, war-battered towns of southern Afghanistan: few women on the streets, the constant drone of helicopters overhead, concrete blast barriers everywhere.

Yet here in the provincial capital of Helmand Province, where NATO forces just waged its biggest offensives against the Taliban in nine years, one structure near the [...]

Marjah: Guns Quiet, the Battle for Power Now Begins

March 23rd, 2010

Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan–Weeks after a major United States-led offensive overturned Taliban rule in the southern Afghan town of Marjah, another force continues to hold sway over the population.

“We are ruled by fear now,” says Gul Muhammad, a shopkeeper from the dust-caked market town, speaking by phone. “We don’t know who will ultimately win here, or [...]

The Battle for Marjah

March 8th, 2010

It was late November, 2001, and the Taliban were on the run everywhere in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance had captured Kabul and much of the rest of the country; only parts of the southwest—including the province of Helmand, remained in the Taliban’s hands. In Marjah, a quiet market town near the Helmand desert, the dying [...]