Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
There is perhaps no word so misunderstood in Afghanistan right now as transition, or one causing as much unease among ordinary Afghans still grappling for a sense of their future.
U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, expected to soon leave the country, is on an urgent reassurance mission, leaping this week onto an open special forces buggy without a flak jacket or heavy escort to tour a former insurgent stronghold in Kandahar’s Khakrez district, hoping to prove safety is on the uptick. ”Just about one year and a half ago it would have been difficult for me to be here. The security would not have allowed me to,” the energetic former general told village elders clustered in sunshine on a lawn walled by roses.
Eikenberry has visited probably every province of Afghanistan with his long immersion in the country, including a stint commanding U.S. forces.
But ordinary Afghans, many of whom are resentful of the foreign troop presence in the country and civilian war deaths, also worry about how their own fledgling security forces will cope when they go.
Eikenberry travels to tell turbaned local mullahs and leathery faced elders that he has come to listen to their needs, usually mundane but vital-to-confidence complaints about crumbling roads, poor water access, and non-existant schools and doctors.