The war in his homeland was a boom time for Sayed Aman Abed.
The Kabul real estate broker made a small fortune over the last several years as billions of dollars in foreign aid and reconstruction contracts flooded into Afghanistan, creating a robust market for homebuyers and renters in the capital. Abed, a slight, boyish 25-year-old, did well enough to pick up the entire tab for his wedding last year, which cost $27,000, a princely sum in Afghanistan.
But Kabul's unlikely housing bubble is deflating rapidly amid a rash of extravagant insurgent attacks and growing worries among Afghans about what will happen after U.S. combat forces stand down, as expected, by 2014.
For many Afghans, President Barack Obama's announcement in June that he was withdrawing one-third of U.S. forces by next September marked the beginning of the end of the foreign intervention in their country. While that raised security concerns, the prospect that U.S.-led NATO troops, who now number 100,000, would soon depart also sparked worries about the economy, especially among those who've gotten rich off the sudden influx of foreign investment.