from Expert Zone:

After bin Laden: Do not retreat from Afghanistan

By Lisa Curtis
May 18, 2011

(The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not represent those of Reuters)

from Bernd Debusmann:

Pakistan and questions over foreign aid

By Bernd Debusmann
May 13, 2011

In the flurry of statements on the killing of Osama bin Laden, a remark from Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, spoke volumes about how U.S. foreign aid tends to be perceived by its recipients. It's not enough.

from Gregg Easterbrook:

With bin Laden dead, why doesn’t the U.S. leave Afghanistan?

May 11, 2011

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq citing two justifications: to depose Saddam Hussein and to destroy Iraq’s banned weapons program. Within a year, Hussein and his accomplices were imprisoned, and it had been discovered there was no Iraqi banned weapons program. Having achieved its goals, why didn’t the United States leave? Seven years later, this question haunts the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

from FaithWorld:

Bin Laden ‘eased’ into sea in contentious burial

May 3, 2011

(Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, from which Osama bin Laden was buried at sea somewhere in the north Arabian Sea/U.S. Navy)

from Photographers' Blog:

Poppy politics

April 21, 2011

It's not hard to find a field of poppies in the village of Jelawar, north of Kandahar. Some are hidden discreetly behind mud walls but others have been brazenly planted within sight of the main road. During a recent patrol, I accompanied Afghan National Army Captain Imran (he uses one name) and a group of U.S. civil affairs soldiers on a tour of Jelawar's back roads as they tried to assess the extent of this year's opium production.

from FaithWorld:

Anti-Western messages grow among Afghanistan’s imams

By Reuters Staff
April 10, 2011

hazrat ali mosque

(Hazrat Ali mosque in Kabul March 21, 2010/Ahmad Masood)

Enayatullah Balegh is a professor at Kabul University and preaches on Fridays in the largest mosque in central Kabul, where he advocates jihad, or holy war, against foreigners who desecrate Islam. After a fundamentalist U.S. pastor presided over the burning of a copy of the Koran last month, there has been a growing perception among ordinary people that many of the foreigners in Afghanistan belong in just one category: the infidels.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. pastor unbowed, vows new anti-Islam protest

By Reuters Staff
April 4, 2011


(Pastor Terry Jones at his Dove World Outreach Center church in Gainesville, Florida, April 2, 2011/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures April 3, 2011

April 4, 2011

In case anyone is in any doubt about the volatile situation many of our staff and stringers work under in Afghanistan I want to recount what happened on Saturday. Ahmad Nadeem was covering a demonstration that was sparked by the actions of extremist Christian preacher Terry Jones, who, according to his website, supervised the burning of the Koran in front of about 50 people at a church in Florida. The mood at the demonstration changed very quickly as the crowd sought a focus for their anger. Ahmad, our stringer in Kandahar was targeted. He was beaten with sticks, his gear smashed and his hand broken. Then an armed man instructed the mob to kill him. Ahmad fled for his life escaping into a nearby house where he successfully hid from the mob. Earlier in the day a suicide attack also hit a NATO military base in the capital Kabul, the day after protesters overran a U.N. mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed seven foreign staff in the deadliest attack on the U.N. in Afghanistan.

from FaithWorld:

Extreme fundamentalist U.S. pastor is focus of Muslim outrage – again

By Reuters Staff
April 2, 2011

kabul koran protest

(Afghans protest in Kabul on April 1, 2011 against the burning of the Koran by a U.S. pastor/Omar Sobhani )

from Afghan Journal:

Huge natural stone arch new Afghan treasure

March 31, 2011

photo courtesy of  Ayub Alavi/Wildlife Conservation Society

photo courtesy of Ayub Alavi/Wildlife Conservation Society

Afghanistan surprises most first-time visitors (including many on military transport planes) with stunning natural beauty -- there's little room in column inches taken up with war to describe snow-topped mountains, lush valleys, spring fields scattered with crocus and other pleasures of living here.