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23 Dec 2003 description

By Ilene R. Prusher

Bibi Hanifa lives in the skeleton of a building, where an unforgiving wind rushes down from the snow-capped Hindu Kush and meets no resistance.

12 Dec 2003 description

Afghanistan's Soviet-era guerrillas will control a majority at the constitutional loya jirga, scheduled to open this weekend.

By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Afghanistan's constitutional convention, scheduled to start Saturday, was supposed to be a break from the feuds of the past, a made-for-TV demonstration that the war-torn country had united around a blueprint for democracy.

Now a coalition of powerful guerrilla commanders is poised to wrest control of the proceedings and redraft the new Afghan constitution …

02 Dec 2003 description

After months of delay, the UN campaign is beginning to yield small successes. But top commanders are reluctant to turn in guns.

By Ilene R. Prusher - Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

KUNDUZ, AFGHANISTAN -- Islamuddin has been a soldier for nearly half his life - and he is only 22.

Now, the young man whose education had primarily consisted of how to handle a kalashnikov has agreed to turn in his weapon in exchange for $200, household food staples, and training for a new career.

14 Nov 2003 description

At least 64 women will be part of next month's national assembly, which will shape the country's constitution.

By Ilene R. Prusher, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

LOGAR CITY, AFGHANISTAN - They slipped the letter under Nafesa Baha's door one night. It read: "Warning. If you continue in this process of trying to elect women to the loya jirga, you will be targeted."

But Mrs. Baha decided the show must go on and got herself a gun. In the face of such threats, she oversaw a new kind of election this week: one for women only.

12 Nov 2003 description

President Karzai is soon to install new governors in five northern provinces.

By Ilene R. Prusher, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

SHIBERGHAN , AFGHANISTAN - Not long ago, the gates to this city bore a portrait of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the regional strongman who - despite his efforts to shake the title - is still known as one of Afghanistan's most feared warlords. Now the entrance bears double images: one of Mr.

28 Oct 2003 description

By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

SALAR, AFGHANISTAN -- By most standards, Mohammad Sharif and his Belgian shepherd dog Brenda would be considered heroes. Day after day, the man-and-dog team work to detect land mines lurking beneath the soil along Afghanistan's busiest highway, the Kabul to Kandahar road.

But in recent months, Mr. Sharif's aid agency, the Mine Dog Center (MDC), has come under attack by Taliban extremists and sympathizers. But it hasn't stopped Sharif and his team.

24 Oct 2003 description

Chiefs, tribal elders learn the basics as the nation prepares for a new constitution.

By Scott Baldauf , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

KUDIKHEL, AFGHANISTAN - It's a scene that has been repeated for centuries: Tribal elders sitting in circles on Persian carpets, making alliances, resolving disputes, and planning future campaigns.

But there's something very 21st century about this ancient gathering in a sprawling home at the foot of Afghanistan's White Mountains.

14 Oct 2003 description

A deadly skirmish between warlords last week points to the perils of slow disarmament.

By Scott Baldauf, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - The tank battles that claimed nearly 60 lives up in Mazar-e Sharif last week were some of the fiercest since the fall of the Taliban two years ago.

08 Sep 2003 description

The US is deepening its efforts to move the country beyond 23 years of war.

25 Aug 2003 description

Tribal attitudes persist as girls schools are torched and women bartered.

By Owais Tohid, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - After the fall of the Taliban, Shakila Zamzama burned her burqa and danced on the streets of Kabul to celebrate her liberation as a performer and woman. But two years later her joy has waned.

"Caps have replaced turbans. Faces have changed, but not hearts," says Ms.

21 Aug 2003 description

More than 90 people have been killed in the past 10 days, as guerrillas hit softer targets.

By Scott Baldauf , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

KHWAJA ANGUR, AFGHANISTAN - High up in the Sultan Sahib mountains west of Kabul, there is a mystery brewing worthy of an Afghan Agatha Christie. The police chief for this district was murdered Monday, along with eight of his most senior officers, and nobody can agree on who did it.

18 Jul 2003 description

Observers say the Taliban are targeting foreign workers to discredit the reconstruction process.

By Owais Tohid, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

ZABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Mullah Jalal heads to his drought-stricken fields each day to oversee the work of his son and nephew - and to watch for the arrival of his guest. A poor Afghan farmer, he is waiting for the return of a Western aid worker who visited months ago promising he would help dig a well.

"I do not have enough for my family of 20 people to survive," says Mr.

11 Jun 2003 description

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may have spoken too soon when he declared last month that the combat phase in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001, is now over and the reconstruction phase has started.

26 Mar 2003 description

500 US civil-affairs soldiers blur the role of fighter and humanitarian - with varying success.

By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - They look like soldiers, march like soldiers, fight like soldiers, curse like soldiers. But when the fighting stops, US civil-affairs soldiers peel away from their unit, and remain in local villages to assess the humanitarian needs of the civilian population.

12 Mar 2003 description

By Richard C. Hottelet

WILTON, CONN. -- As a gung-ho administration moves toward major commitment to war and peace in Iraq, it should study the cautionary tales of previous experience. None is more pointed than Afghanistan. Today, nearly a year and a half and billions of dollars after military victory, Afghanistan is on the razor's edge. Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN's extraordinary chief political construction engineer, says that improvements made so far are "not irreversible."

At first, progress came easily. The war was won quickly and at small cost.

20 Feb 2003 description

Preliminary budget figures for 2003 show Washington will increase aid to Afghanistan.

By Scott Baldauf, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - With war looming in Iraq, Afghans have something new to worry about: Will the US forget about Afghanistan?

It's not an idle question. Ten years ago, American military and diplomatic support dried up after the Soviets withdrew and Afghan factions fought each other for control.

28 Jan 2003 description

Afghanistan will get a boost in US aid from $271 million last year to more than $300 million this year.

22 Jan 2003 description

Badsha Khan's ouster helps strengthen the Afghan central government. But other warlords throughout the country may hold firm.

By Scott Baldauf - Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

NEAR KHOST, AFGHANISTAN -- With his bandoleer draped across his chest and a silver and black turban wound onto his head, Badsha Khan still looks like a model Afghan warlord.

But the once powerful regional governor and a crucial US ally in the war on terrorism has been cast aside since voicing his opposition to the central government of President Hamid Karzai. Mr.