Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gender Politics

Kabul is still on lock-down due to the latest international conference going on at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so we're a bit professionally constrained right now. The usually laughable ANP checkpoints around the city* have been replaced/reinforced by much more serious ANA and NDS guys, under orders to use force if they feel it justified in any way. So, we're spending a lot of time indoors lately.

*Incidentally, I'd like to find out who the genius was at ISAF who decided that the standard ANP checkpoints should be fixed at permanent locations, and then came up with the new slogan. Every ANP checkpoint in Kabul now has a bright blue sign with a dual-language message announcing the "Ring of Steel" and denoting the number of that particular checkpoint. Seriously? That's what the ANP needs? A cheesy slogan? How about more ammunition and a requirement not to shake people down for bribes. The Brits are the "official" mentors to the MoI, but I bet the whole "Ring of Steel" thing is the product of an American mind. Only an American could come up with something so silly.

With the city full of ANA, who are in charge of security after the ANP dropped the ball badly during the last conference, the ANP mostly stand around their blue signs and look sheepish, while the ANA strut around and wave M-16s at anyone who looks at them funny. And the deadly-serious NDS operatives lurk around and scare the shit out of everybody. In short, it's a good time to stay home. The local staff at the villa has been given a couple of days off,* and we're operating on half-staff at company HQ.

*While I don't generally rave about the skills of the locals, the ones we have at the villa are actually quite good. You never miss them until they're gone. After two days of eating meals prepared by South Africans, I'm beginning to appreciate the talents of our local cook. Plus, you'd think grown men would be able to clean up after themselves for a couple of days, but apparently not. Two days without the local cleaners and this place looks like a fraternity house after a particularly taxing weekend (minus the beer cans, of course).

Anyway, being stuck inside with lots of downtime has allowed me to catch up on my reading (and the writing that inevitably follows), so I should have a series of posts up over the next week or so highlighting some recent items.

In the meantime, ponder this bit from the NY Times about the governor of Bamiyan Province. Habiba Sorabi is the only female governor in the entire country and said this to Britain's Channel 4:
Why are they not doing the sacrifice? Always we women should do the sacrifice? Always women during the war and during the conflict, for a long period in Afghanistan, women sacrificed. So this is enough I think.
Needless to say, Governor Sorabi was not invited to Kabul to meet with the foreign dignitaries. Methinks that perhaps SecState Clinton could at least have demanded that Sorabi be present at the conference. Even better, HRC could have made a trip out to Bamiyan by chopper to meet with her personally. That would have sent a powerful message to Karzai and his cronies that shit was going to change, or else.


dmouse said...

oooo if clinton had done that!old karzai would be beside himself with fits.

termostaattori said...

About the "Ring of steel" (and ignoring the obvious LOTR-references): there is actually a Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.

I bet the "Ring of steel" has come from there and it means "bright colored well displayed easy target" or so I would think ;)

dmouse said...

Bytheby lookup the NDS, what little i found.yeah they could make you pee your laundry.

Adam said...

I can't see it happening anytime soon, but Afghanistan could probably benefit from some sort of Gulabi-inspired movement. http://www.slate.com/id/2260797/