Whateverland

by Felix kuehn

Kabul, April 2010

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April 24th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

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IDP Camp in Mogadishu, Somalia 29/03/2010

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April 24th, 2010 at 5:11 pm

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the storm is coming

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Yesterday a small storm came through the city. Today 3 suicide bombers.IMG_3448 - Version 2.jpg

Kandahar city, Afghanistan

Spend the last couple of hours downstairs after shooting started in the streets. “Guys you need to come down your walls won’t hold a bullet.” a friend of ours said. “The soldiers they shoot in the air to scare those guys off. One bullet is enough.”

When the gun fire died down a little we went onto the roof to take a look. A few hundred meters across we could see soldier running on rooftops. “These are the guys who will start shooting in a minute.” and sure enough they did.

This morning NATO forces opened fire on a bus t in Zheray district killing four and wounding 18. Short interview with wounded civilian from this morning

it appears the storm is coming.

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April 12th, 2010 at 10:43 am

Back in Kandahar – Radio Australia

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talking about stuff on Connect Asia – Radio Australia

Check here

Will be updating the blog in the next few days now that i am back in Kandahar. Currently busy with writing up articles about Somalia – will soon post some picture here as well insha’allah.

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Kandahar is slowly getting hot, and the office here is heating up quite a bit during the day. The atmosphere in the city has changed since i left 2.5 months ago. kidnappings have happened on a daily basis and apparently many are just disappearing no ransom asked. A friend said yesterday sitting on the roof with us pointing at the city: “It makes you believe its a real city now, with the buildings and the streets but really its not a city.”

People are worried.

This morning there were two explosions in Malajat – loud enough to wake me up, followed by a brief exchange of gunfire.

Kandahar isn’t Mogadishu but the security has deteriorate to a degree that slowly introduces the same paranoia to the city.

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April 9th, 2010 at 11:25 am

First Book Review/Comment

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Peter Marton of MoStFab wrote the first comment read it here at

A counter-narrative

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January 17th, 2010 at 9:58 am

NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute to Host Panel Discussion, “Talking to the Taliban,” Feb. 18

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Join me in the back row for this event, make sure to bring pretzels and something to drink or popcorn…

here the link

NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute to Host Panel Discussion, “Talking to the Taliban,” Feb. 18

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010

N-198, 2009-10

MEDIA ADVISORY

New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute will host a panel discussion-“Talking to the Taliban: How Well Has the West Understood Its Enemy in Afghanistan?”-on Thursday, February 18, 6:30 p.m. (20 Cooper Square, between 5th and 6th Streets, 7th Floor). Subways: 6 (Astor Place); R, W (8th Street). The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP to andrea.rosenberg@nyu.edu is required. Call 212.998.7887 or go to journalism.nyu.edu/events for more information. Photo ID required for entry.

Reporters interested in attending must RSVP to James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or james.devitt@nyu.edu. Filming, videotaping, photographing, and audio recording the event is prohibited.

The panel will be moderated by Barnett Rubin, director of studies at NYU’s Center on International Cooperation and currently a senior adviser on Afghanistan to U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke. Other panelists include: David Rohde, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times who was held captive by the Taliban for seven months in Pakistan’s tribal regions; Michael Semple, a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School who has served in Afghanistan with the United Nations and the European Union; and, Alex Strick van Linschoten, co-editor of My Life with the Taliban, an autobiography by former Taliban minister Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef.

The event is sponsored by the Global and Joint Program Studies at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies.

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January 14th, 2010 at 6:32 am

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Cambridge talk

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‘Voices from Southern Afghanistan: Kandahar in 2010′

Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn

SCR, Politics and International Studies, 17 Mill Lane, 13.00 to 14.00, Monday 8 February

As more American soldiers are deployed to southern Afghanistan as part of the recently-announced ‘Surge’, Kandahar province has come under renewed scrutiny.  Based full time in Kandahar city for the past two years, Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn will introduce the history of the province initially through the life of Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, a high-ranking former Taliban diplomat whose autobiographical memoirs, My Life With The Taliban, are just about to be published (Hurst, London), These were edited and introduced by Alex and Felix.

Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban movement, and its people have dominated Afghanistan’s history since the early days of the Afghan state. Van Linschoten and Kuehn will explore the current situation in Kandahar, highlighting dynamics within the Taliban and the local tribes from whom they draw their support.  They will discuss the concerns and views of local Afghans living amid the strategic confusion engendered by foreign political and military intervention in an ever-deteriorating conflict.

Felix Kuehn first travelled to Afghanistan five years ago, having spent long periods in the Middle East, including in Yemen, where he learnt Arabic.  In 2006, he founded AfghanWire.com together with Alex Strick van Linschoten and is currently working with him on several research projects, including a history of southern Afghanistan, 1970-2001. A graduate of SOAS, Felix lives in Kandahar.

Alex Strick van Linschoten founded AfghanWire.com together with Felix Kuehn in 2006.  He is currently working on a book and PhD at the War Studies Department of King’s College London on the interactions between Sufi groups and militant jihadi organisations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Somalia, as well as on a history of southern Afghanistan 1970-2001. He has reported from Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Somalia, writing for Foreign Policy, International Affairs, ABC Nyheter, The Sunday Times, The Globe and Mail and The Tablet. A SOAS graduate, he speaks Arabic, Farsi, and Pashtu and also lives in Kandahar.

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January 13th, 2010 at 4:08 pm

My Life With The Taliban Book Tour 2010

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Confirmed book tour events so far…


UNITED KINGDOM

January 21st, 2010 — Talk — School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

10 Thornhaugh Street, London, WC1H 0XG — 5.30-7pm.

http://www.soas.ac.uk/events/event55661.html

February 1st, 2010 — Talk — International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

13–15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London WC2R 3DX — 12.30-1.30pm.

http://www.iiss.org

February 3rd, 2010 — Talk — London School of Economics (LSE)

Room U8, Tower 1, Clement’s Inn, London WC2A 2AD — 12.30-2.00pm.

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/findingYourWayAroundLSE.aspx

February 5th, 2010 — Talk — Chatham House

10 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LE — 1.30-2.30pm.

http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/

February 9th, 2010 — Book Launch — Frontline Club

13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ — 7-9pm

http://www.frontlineclub.com/

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

February 18th, 2010 — Discussion Panel – “Talking with the Taliban” — New York University (NYU)

Manhattan, New York, NY 10011 — 6.30-8.30pm

http://www.nyu.edu/

February 26th, 2010 — Talk — Brookings Institution

1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036 — 2.30-3.30pm

http://www.brookings.edu

March 2nd, 2010 — Talk — Middle East Institute (MEI)

1761 N Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20036-2882 — 12-1pm

http://www.mei.edu/

March 11th, 2010 — Talk — Carr Center, Harvard University

John F. Kennedy School of Government, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge MA 02138 — 4-6pm

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/cchrp/index.php

March 11th, 2010 — Talk & Signing — The COOP Bookstore, Harvard

1400 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138 — 7-8.30pm

http://harvardcoopbooks.bncollege.com

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January 13th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Taliban poetry

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Not available online yet but here the link anyway:

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Last edition of the German magazine Zenith featured the cover story by Christopher Grosse and myself about Taliban poetry. Alex Strick and myself have been working on an ongoing project concerned with Taliban poetry. By now we have collected hundreds of poems and translated them into english, hoping to publish a ‘anthology’ of Taliban poetry in order to shine more light on this ignored output of the group.

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January 8th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Kandahar Bombing

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Originally posted on Wednesday, 26 August 2009

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 the windows, sending the glass flying like shrapnel into the room. It was a miracle that no one was injured.

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Our glass is double glazing, and glass kept on raining down the facade landing on our terrace, shattering into thousands of tiny pieces. There have been bomb blasts before that shook the ground, but nothing like this. I heard gunfire on the streets for several minutes, and I moved to the back rooms of the apartment with my friends. No pretty pictures this time, but I doubt I could have held the camera steady those first few minutes anyway.

Soon after the gunshots stopped, we walked out onto the terrace, glass crunching under our sandals and watched as police cars and ambulances rushed past towards the blast side. The air was filled with dust and a few blocks down I could the flashing lights and cars gathering. Quite soon after, a fire burst out, with flames and black smoke billowing into the sky – firefighters passed by.
The blast site was near to Sharjah Bakery, a shop I visit most days for soda and sweets. Just across the street is a wedding salon, and the NDS/intelligence services office is close by along with a private security company and a construction company. A friend called and said it might have been a bomb factory that blew up. Some 40 minutes later reports came in that it was a car bomb. Casualties kept arriving at Mirwais hospital for hours after the explosion. People were being dug out of the collapsed building. This morning the toll had risen to 43 dead and 65 injured.

My desk is littered with pieces of plaster that have fallen off from the ceiling and the window frames sit next to the wall.
30 minutes after the blast a convoy of foreign troops drove by, the unmistakable sound of their heavy vehicles roaring through the streets, followed by more ambulances.

Smoke kept on rising into the sky hours later, even though the firefighters seemed to have managed to put out the fires. Helicopters were flying overhead through the night sky.

Sitting in the now windowless living room last night talking with my Afghan friends, one turns to me and says: “There are those Afghans who migrated to the west who say they miss Afghanistan!” He bursts out into laughter. “This is what they are missing!” Another shakes his head: “Fuck Kandahar. Fuck Afghanistan.”

Around 11:00pm people were being evacuated from the Continental guesthouse. The police chief was talking about another 4 possible suicide bombers who were still at large in the city and heated discussion broke out in my apartment as to whether or not we should stay or move to another building further away from the Continental guesthouse and the main roads.
In the end we stayed. The idea that a truck bomb would drive into our building and explode seemed unrealistic at the time.
Now the next morning, the air is filled with the sound of people cleaning up broken glass on the street. The shopkeepers just opposite our building have all lost their glass windowfronts. I can see the blast sight; some buildings are missing, and the ones adjacent to the center of the explosion seem derelict, without windows or frames, just the empty carcasses left standing.
The area around the Shah Jahan Restaurant is a popular area, with many people spending their evenings on the little green grass strip in the middle of the road. Half an hour ago I drove to the blast site, and the destruction leaves little doubt that this has been Kandahar’s biggest bomb so far: entire buildings were annihilated and squares of mud huts flattened.

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Sharjah Bakery is gone, the construction company reduced to a pile of bricks across the street from it. The restaurant itself collapsed, burying everyone inside underneath it.

Another friend called in and said he believed that the district chief of Khakrez was at the restaurant along with a number of government officials, but nothing is confirmed yet.

Emotions were running high yesterday, and security forces in town were quick to pull the trigger. Standing outside on the terrace waiting to being put through to CBC Radio for an interview, someone started firing his AK47, and a bullet whizzed past me, hitting the door and reaching as far as our living room.

A moment later CBC was on the phone:
“Tell us what is happening right now.”
“I’ve just been shot at…”

I did the interview anyway, even though I guess I must have been a little freaked out at the time, given the amount of swearwords I used.

In the end, though, no one is surprised. This is not a turning point or the start of something; it’s what has been happening all along for the past few years in Kandahar. Violence has been on the rise, and there is no security for the people of southern Afghanistan.

re-posted on the AfPak Channel

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January 8th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

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