February 9, 2010

Afghanistan: “A solution is going to look somewhat ugly”

The important international voices have been ‘on message’ about Afghanistan recently in time for a new British-led NATO offensive in the area around Marjah in Helmand province. At the London Conference last month there was talk of "turning the tide"; NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes there is new momentum in Afghanistan; and US […]

February 8, 2010

Counterinsurgency blogged: A 30-day tour of Afghanistan

This looks like an interesting new blog which apparently kicks off today. US Tech Sergeants Ken Raimondi and Nathan Gallaghan are going to travel through five regional commands in Afghanistan blogging and vlogging along the way. Unsurprisingly, they think the story of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan isn’t being covered by the media: "We want to show […]

August 26, 2009

Kandahar Eyewitness Account – Felix Kuehn

It was perhaps twenty minutes after the call to prayer had sounded and we were breaking the fast, sitting on the floor around a plastic sheet with plates of rice and meat, when I was knocked sideways to the ground. It takes a split second till you realize what happened; the shock-wave had blown out […]

August 26, 2009

Felix in Kandahar – Eyewitness Account

Please see the previous blogpost for more on this story, but here is Felix Kuehn (my friend and colleague in Kandahar) on CBC Radio talking an hour or two after tonight’s bombing:   Just press play on the Houndbite bar above.  Felix will be updating his blog and reposting here tomorrow morning when he wakes […]

August 25, 2009

Kandahar City Bombing

I’m sitting in Dubai at the moment so can’t claim to be the man on the ground for tonight’s bombing in Kandahar City.  That dubious honour goes to Felix Kuehn (@felixkuehn on Twitter and www.felixkuehn.com for his blog).  I just spoke to him over the phone and he added some details to the mix: – […]

March 30, 2009

Wait and See…

Tribal elders in Kandahar like to explain how they’re waiting to see what will happen before committing themselves to any particular ‘side’.  Well, we’ve all been waiting to hear from President Obama on his grand plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan – or the latest neologism, ‘Af-Pax’.  Two days ago, finally, we heard. In the words […]

March 29, 2009

Wait and See…

Tribal elders in Kandahar like to explain how they’re waiting to see what will happen before committing themselves to any particular ‘side’.  Well, we’ve all been waiting to hear from President Obama on his grand plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan – or the latest neologism, ‘Af-Pax’.  Two days ago, finally, we heard. In the words […]

December 10, 2008

Live from Kandahar

Frontline blogger Alex Strick van Linschoten will be experimenting with some live video broadcasts using Kyte.tv from Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. Although as Alex says in an email, they’ve sped up the GPRS data connection ($20/month for unlimited data!) in Kandahar…so i can now stream live shows (sort of – it’s more like it can […]

December 1, 2008

Panicked Solutions

I wrote this oped with a colleague of mine in the hope it might get some coverage and – in part – help to stop the long march towards tribal militias that are being proposed as a ‘solution’ for Afghanistan. Nobody took it, so we thought we’d put it up here…

November 5, 2008

More from the Shah Wali Kot wedding bombing

Photographs from the women’s section of the hospital in Kandahar today. Click the image above to scroll through the pictures. I am writing for the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada for this story. In interviews at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar city, where at least 16 male victims and dozens of female victims were being […]

November 4, 2008

Shah Wali Kot Wedding Bombing

Reports started to come in earlier today of a bombing of a wedding party in Kandahar province’s north-western district of Shah Wali Kot. I visited the hospital just now to visit and interview survivors. Abdul Zahir, 24, is the bride’s brother. He was in Shah Wali Kot yesterday for the wedding when the bombing started. […]

October 18, 2008

Tablighi Jamaat

The yearly general and regional ‘conferences’ of the Tablighi Jamaat are perhaps the most undercovered big events that go on in Afghanistan. Last year I went to the general meeting in Kabul, a 4-day event that over 10,000 people attended. Not a single report was written, be it foreign media or Afghan media. Now to […]

October 16, 2008

“4-nil and it’s started to rain”

Not much has happened in Kandahar since I last wrote – not on a grand scale, anyway. It seems the dead need to line up in the dozens for international media to take note. Today an attack on a USPI convoy killed several, but it will undoubtedly not be deemed newsworthy enough for anything more […]

October 8, 2008

Far From the City

In case you were wondering what’s happening outside the city in the districts, here’s a story and a half. Ghorak district is north-west of the city, and not especially important in itself. Off the top of my head, it was the first district that the Soviets abandoned during the 1980s when they started their slow […]

October 5, 2008

Back in Kandahar

Amniat kharab day. Hokumat kharab day. Taliban kharab day. Security is messed up. The government’s messed up. The Taliban are messed up. I was trying to have a conversation with old colleague of mine from Kabul on the plane down to Kandahar. He’s originally from there, of course, but now lived and worked in the […]

October 1, 2008

Panjwayi Taliban Interview

I know it’s a little old, but probably most of those reading this blog haven’t seen it, and a lot of what is said here hasn’t changed since early 2007. We made this interview with a Taliban commander in Panjwayi district of Kandahar province while AfghanWire was still up and running. For more of the […]

October 1, 2008

Mullah Omar releases his ‘eid message

Just like last year, Mullah Omar, the sort-of Taliban leader, has released a message on the occasion of ‘eid, the Muslim religious festival. Lots of interesting things in what he says, so you ought to read the full text (available in pretty passable English translation here). But before you get there make sure to read […]

September 7, 2008

Kandahar Police HQ Bombing

Just missed being caught up in a double suicide-bombing in Kandahar City. Bombers targeted the main police headquarters in an attack just three minutes after I exited the building. Detonations were at approx 13:21 and 13:23. The police commander was allegedly injured in the attack, but there are mainly only rumours at this point. The […]

September 6, 2008

Daman District

Went out to Daman district (Kandahar still) yesterday evening for a walk in the countryside. Shoran Dam is an area that has almost total sympathy with the Taliban, so we didn’t stay too long, but long enough to enjoy the peace of being outside the city. The days are getting longer, all the more so […]

August 23, 2008

The Tale of Mullah Omar’s Eye

As the cliché goes, Mullah Omar is the ‘reclusive one-eyed leader of the Taliban’. You can see him in the photo above, one of only a handful that exist, his right eye just a socket. But how did he lose his eye? I’ve been doing some interviews for what I’m calling my idealistic oral history […]

August 17, 2008

Rude Awakening

I’ve been woken up each morning at around 5am for the last two days by a constant stream of helicopters and jets passing over my house here in Kandahar City. A big battle is being fought in Dand district, just over 10 kilometres away from the city. The Taliban are able to operate within the […]

June 30, 2008

Road trips down south

Another timely reminder of the dangers on Afghanistan’s southern ringroad. 35 police officers were suspended a couple of days ago following protests by truck drivers about police corruption and kidnappings on the road from Herat to Kandahar. Incredibly, 12 drivers were kidnapped last week on the road (and I think that that’s probably a conservative […]

November 5, 2007

“Growing up fast”

Ben Anderson hits Helmand for the Daily Mail, As a BBC foreign correspondent, I’ve visited most of the world’s war zones – Iraq, Gaza, Congo and many more – but nothing prepared me for what I found when I flew into Kandahar airport to join up with a unit of the First Battalion Grenadier Guards […]

May 25, 2006

On the Road to Kandahar

No one knows how Britain’s Nato adventure in Afghanistan will end. Depending on who you listen to, it is either one of the most dangerous policing roles in the new age of asymmetric warfare, or a consolidation of the post-9/11 achievements of the international community. Military commanders who pick up Jason Burke’s Road to Kandahar […]