The US military IS still in Iraq which still has a relationship with America…..
It is NOT in Afghanistan….
Even with the abrupt Biden pull out?
The Taliban has NOT be able to stamp out Western influenec in the capital city that MUST moderate the Taliban iron fist because of it’s reaching out to the Western World…..
Iraq Big City Real Estate….
Baghdad was conceived as a model city, its sand brick walls rising from the banks of the Tigris River in a circle four miles wide. Today’s incarnation has no official plan at all. Home to more than 7 million people, neighborhoods sprout upward for the rich and outward for the poor as builders toil over sleek high-rises in walled-off complexes and cinder-block settlements in the dusty outskirts. Trees that offered shade from the baking sun have been cut down to make way for megamalls
Remnants of Baghdad’s architectural splendor are woven throughout the cityscape. Traditional wood-latticed windows still adorn the old homes, but renovations are expensive and expertise has dwindled. The yellow-brick houses in the old Jewish quarter still stand, but their original inhabitants have long since fled, and new owners have often neglected them to hasten the case for wrecking crews.
In Karrada, where land sells for more than $5,000 per square meter, construction workers advertise their demolition services in spray-painted scrawl on the walls of houses. Overhead, spindly wires that connect to Baghdad’s overburdened electricity network are tangled thick as birds’ nests on telegraph poles….
Yet in one of the most corrupt countries in the world, real estate has become a magnet for dirty money, as high oil prices flood Iraqi markets with cash and U.S.-backed regulations on international dollar transactions limit the transfer of ill-gotten wealth abroad.
“Prices are high in part because of money laundering and corruption. When it’s hard for people to send their money outside the country, they put it into property here,” said Mohammed al-Rubaii, a spokesman for the Baghdad mayoralty….
The cash arrives in suitcases, plastic bags, even ice cream tubs, observers say, and the paper trail is hard to unwind. Iraq’s land and property registration process is still paper-based. Data is not shared between government agencies. In many cases, the transactions are recorded in the names of relatives or associates, further shielding the true owners from scrutiny.
“That part is a whole industry in itself,” said one broker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the illicit dealings. “Discretion is part of the business plan,” he smiled.
Politicians were among his best clients, and when a lucrative property came up, he often rifled through his cellphone to find a buyer. They rarely bartered when he called, he said — they bought “immediately.”
image…A residential street in the Mansour district of Baghdad. Formerly spacious land plots are now divided in half as the city grows and the cost of real estate increases exponentially. (Alice Martins for The Washington Post)
Afghanistan Big City crawl back since the US left…..
The enduring Western influence is most striking in the capital. Before the U.S.-led war began in 2001, Kabul was a city in shambles, littered with rubble after years of fighting during the civil war and later between resistance forces and the Taliban’s first government. But after the American invasion, it became a hub of international attention.
Thousands of foreign aid workers, soldiers and contractors flooded in, and high-rise buildings and cell towers sprouted up. New restaurants and malls catering to nouveau riche Afghans riding the economic boom appeared. Since 2001, the city’s population has nearly doubled, reaching around five million people today — or about half of the country’s entire urban population.
There are pizza shops, burger joints and bodybuilding gyms in every neighborhood. Outdoor vendors sell secondhand T-shirts adorned with “I <3 NY” in large block letters. Tattoos — considered forbidden in Islam — of stars and moons and mothers’ names are etched on young men’s arms. Street children yell English expletives with gusto.
For members of the young, urban generation, the restaurants and bookstores have become cherished corners of the city. There, they can step through a door and escape the sometimes-dismal reality of a country now being remade by a government that often feels more foreign to them than the Western-backed administration did…
“I love the smell, the books, the music they play,” Taiba said. “Although,” she added with a wry smile, “I don’t like pop music anymore since I became a good Muslim in the past two years.” The girls looked at each other and burst out laughing. “Only joking,” she quipped.
It can be a jarring juxtaposition: a city where girls are barred from school above the sixth grade but are allowed to read English-language books in cafes; where male public servants are required to grow out their beards while teenage boys rock stylish fade hairstyles and sweatshirts featuring American sports franchises.
That dissonance is partly explained by Taliban officials’ competing visions for the country. The government’s top leadership — who rarely leave their southern heartland in Kandahar — believe in a strict interpretation of Islam and have enacted laws reflecting that. More moderate officials in Kabul — who have interacted more frequently with foreign diplomats and traveled outside the region — have pushed less restrictive policies and let certain norms slide in the city that would not likely survive in Kandahar….
image….Old Kabul lives on in the dark rooms of video game dens where teenage boys lounge on couches playing “Call of Duty” and “FIFA.”…NY Times