Some locals jokingly call Herat the "Dubai of Afghanistan." The nickname is a stretch, but the mini-boom taking place in this commercial capital is borne out by 24-hour electricity and pothole-free streets where people wander without fear of the random violence that afflicts other urban centers in the country. Who gets the credit? Much of it goes to Iran, which lies less than a hundred miles to the west and is moving closer.
Afghanistan is in an uproar following U.S. airstrikes that may have killed more than 100 civilians in the western part of the country. Reports from Farah province said that on Thursday a mob of several hundred protesters chanted anti-American slogans and threw rocks outside at provincial governor's office before being disbursed by police gunfire. In Kabul, outraged lawmakers called for new laws to clamp down on foreign military operations. Ahead of talks with President Obama in Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai bluntly said the deaths were "unjustifiable and unacceptable."
When Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office recently said it was holding peace talks with the Taliban, the Taliban countered with a press release. A spokesman for the militants dismissed Karzai's announcement as a propaganda ploy to suggest a schism within the Taliban's ranks. Not only was that not true, the press release that was subsequently sent to journalists announced the start of the Taliban's spring offensive, dubbed "Operation Victory." It was the latest exchange in a critical second front in the Afghan war — a war of words that U.S.