Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series runs every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. You can find the Series Introduction here, Part I here and Part II here. Regional Command East encompasses Afghanistan’s most populous region. The territory extends from Afghanistan’s mountainous eastern border with Pakistan to the central provinces surrounding Kabul, an area characterized by wide variation in terrain, ethnic groups, political […]

Editor’s note: This is the third of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series will run every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. You can find the Series Introduction here and Part I here. Northern Afghanistan, particularly the regional capital Mazar-i-Sharif in the province of Balkh, represents something of a success story. The region by and large benefited from the international intervention without experiencing the same level of economic distortion as […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series will run every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. The series introduction can be found here. Historically a crossroads of commerce and culture linking Persia and Central Asia, the ethnically mixed western region of Afghanistan has more recently been notable for the stability and wealth of its most important province, Herat, and its capital city of the […]

Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai made his third visit to India in 2013 and his 14th since first taking office in 2001. This time, the two governments announced they would deepen their defense and security ties, with several initiatives designed to increase the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as most if not all NATO combat forces prepare to leave the country in 2014. Although Indian officials declined to fill Karzai’s entire shopping list, Afghan-Indian military cooperation will likely increase still further now that the United States, which has generally discouraged New Delhi from assuming a major […]

Depressing headlines from the Middle East have thrown cold water on any lingering optimism that U.S. policy objectives in the region were on track. In Iraq, Fallujah and Ramadi have been lost, at least for now, to al-Qaida-linked insurgents. The Syrian conflict has apparently transformed into a multi-sided war, increasing the likelihood that Bashar al-Assad’s regime will survive. And progress remains elusive in Afghanistan as the countdown to withdrawal continues. Not long ago there was reason for hope in all these countries. The surges in Iraq and Afghanistan were supposed to have worked, and the Arab Spring, it was hoped, […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series will run every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. This year, the bulk if not the entirety of international troops will leave Afghanistan; the few thousand likely to remain, pending agreement with Kabul, will mostly be concentrated on a handful of bases and serve in a training and advisory role for Afghan forces. In February, the number […]

Thus far, China’s policy toward Afghanistan has followed Deng Xiaoping’s famous adage regarding how China should conduct itself in the international arena: “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.” But the planned withdrawal of most, if not all, Western combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year will require Beijing to consider new scenarios and approaches in the country. Chinese analysts recognize that on balance Beijing has benefited from the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan since, unlike many […]