I have been in Herat Afghanistan since April; working as a Mentor/Advisor to the Afghan Counter Narcotics Police (CNP-A) special unit, the National Interdiction Unit (NIU).
Herat Province is located in far West Afghanistan and is bordered by Iran and Turkmenistan. Most of the influence here is from Iran and there is much commercial and illicit trade with Iran.
Afghanistan exports Heroin and Opium to Iran and Iran returns the favor by exporting
Afghanistan imports 90% off its needs except agricultural products. Imported are oil products, electricity, cement, construction material, carpets, home appliances, and detergents. Exports to Iran are nuts, carpets, agricultural products as well as handicrafts.
Herat is the third largest city in Afghanistan has a rich history and was once known for its wine and silk. The city is busy with construction and commerce. Traffic is hectic with hundreds of three wheeled Tuk-Tuks carrying incredible loads of cargo and passengers. There is an International Airport that services domestic flights as well as flight to Iran and Indian.
Most women are completely covered in burkas. There a very few who show their faces but are covered head down. One can only imagine how confining being a in burla can be. The burka is covering a fully dressed woman (No cute bra and panty sets under there) so the heat must be oppressive. Pedestrian accidents are very common as a burka clad woman cannot see very well in front but have no peripheral vision. All sounds are diminished as well. How to eat and drink?
Some arigcultural projects to help Herat with jobs and commerce.
The majority of the people are Tajik so support for the Taliban is not very popular. That being said the Taliban threat is very real and increasing daily. Recently two female Finnish aid workers were gunned down while in a taxi. NGO are easy targets due to their naive beliefs and lack of basic security procedures.
Herat was recently in the news when the five Taliban commanders were returned to the battlefield. Khairullah Khairkhwa was the Taliban Governor of Herat Province as well as a major drug trafficker.
Herat also has the dubious distinction of having the highest drug addition rate in Afghanistan. One in five households has a drug user compared to one in ten for the rest of the country.
Unfortunately the security situation does not allow for getting out and walking around. So my pictures are from the safety of my armored Land Cruiser. I did get out taking some pictures of the 15 century minarets. The minarets, an UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate is all that remains from a large mosque, madrassa and mausoleum complex.
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