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Sakastan: the most interesting corner of the world

I think the most interesting corner of the world right now is the area once known as Sakastan — that is, the bleak endoheric part of Central Asian desert where the borders of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan meet. Right now the Marines are carrying out an offensive there in Afghanistan’s Helmand River valley. (I believe, ...

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I think the most interesting corner of the world right now is the area once known as Sakastan — that is, the bleak endoheric part of Central Asian desert where the borders of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan meet. Right now the Marines are carrying out an offensive there in Afghanistan’s Helmand River valley. (I believe, by the way, that the Helmand is the largest river in the world that simply dries up, without an outlet to another river, a lake, or the sea).

Meanwhile, Baluchistan, just over the border in Pakistan, is also restive, and Pakistani officials have expressed concern that the Helmand fighting will further destabilize the situation if Talibanners flee south. They say the Americans have promised that won’t happen. Maybe so. And then of course there is Iran, where the situation remains unsettled — and where the southeast has been intermittently frisky for several years. The west part of this area, in Iran, also is known as Sistan. Hmm — sound familiar?

Also, four soldiers and two Afghan civilians were killed in a bombing in Kunduz, up in northern Afghanistan. This is bad news, because that part has been pretty quiet.  

Thomas Roche/Flickr

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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