Osama Who!?

afghanA rundown on the Ring Road in Afghanistan and all the fun you could possibly have trying to use it.

They say he’s travelling around somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan, but he’s nowhere to be found: Osama, the notorious bad guy, has been put on the shelf. How could this be? Well, there are worse bastards than Osama bin Laden on the ground here in Afghanistan. Warlords with names that end in Kahn (like Star Trek’s own) – some twenty or so – with mass amounts of troops that riddle the Afghan countryside. Maneuvering products like pot, opium and pistachios – yes, pistachios – the warlords edge and scheme to grasp a chunk of “Ring Road.”

Afghanistan Map

The “Ring” travels from Tajikistan down through Kandahar and back up to Turkmenistan via Herat. Many of its small veins slip into neighboring countries Pakistan and Iran. USAID is presently trying to complete the Ring Road project (changing dirt trails into an acceptable infrastructure), but warlords and rogue Taliban and Al-Qaeda factions have presented some obstructions – such as gunplay and a little grenade tossing.

ringroadAfghanistan RuinsThe Ring tells tales dating back to Alexander the Great. Today, a simple road trip along the Ring easily results in an automobile crisis at best, or some good old-fashioned tribal banditry at worst; and ‘tribal’ in Afghanistan doesn’t include spears and arrows… but rather AK-47s and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). On a good road trip you’ll run into warm smiles, opium fields, mud-huts, and the occasional hemp-princess nestled in a brutal desert countryside, where each step could mean a missing foot.

Recent fights between warlords Amanullah Kahn of Shindand, and Ismail Kahn of Herat, have resulted in the beheadings and skinnings of some of Afghanistan’s fine residents on August 14, 2004. So far, US led coalition forces have found empty gravesites, sporadic body pieces (to include skin portions), and of course, that all-familiar rotting smell, as the only indicator that something violent had happened. By the time Amnesty International showed up to investigate the possibility of human rights violations, Amanullah Kahn’s diligent little killers had all but concealed the bodies, and the trace evidence left behind was all but fly-ridden and rotten.

Special Forces in Afghanistan

For the traveler of sordid places this means you could get mugged and handled and left to rot for several weeks before help arrives, so it’s a wise choice to register with the State Department in the area before going on any excursions. A sat-phone is a detrimental staple item on any packing list, in addition to the necessary spare tire, Afghan Childrenfuel, food, water and first aid supplies. And if you have plans to visit local villages, it’s best to have hard candy and cigarettes handy. They make for goodwill and bring smiles to many faces.

Author – Michael Cordoni

Michael has an awesome website over at www.lily-of-the-desert.com which has a lot of great info for anyone researching a trip to that area of the world. Some great stories too. Check it out: Lily of the Desert

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