The CIA occupied the heavily secured building just blocks from the Afghan presidential palace in late 2001 after the US-led invasion up until August 2021.
Establish in 1964, the Ariana Hotel lies at the heart of the capital’s heavily guarded, political and diplomatic district, a virtual “green zone” which is situated nearby to Central Statistics Organization and close to the Presidential Palace and next door to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence headquarters. The heavily guarded district and one of the most secure areas contains, aside from most Afghan government buildings, dozens of foreign embassies and media offices.
Notable Places in the Area
The Arg serves as the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. Arg is situated 570 meters southwest of the Ariana Hotel.
• Central Statistics Organization walking distance
• Headquarters of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence 460 metres south
• Ministry of Transport and civil aviation Government office, 490 metres north
• Radio Television Afghanistan 490 metres north
• World Bank Building, 560 metres northwest
• Indira Gandhi Children’s hospital is situated 1¼ km north of the Ariana Hotel
• Camp Eggers was a United States military base in Kabul was round the corner and the US Embassy is situated 630 metres northwest of the Ariana Hotel
• Embassies of Spain, Sweden, Iran and dozens of foreign embassies are within walking distance
The Arian Hotel opened in 1945 as the first Western style luxury hotel in the reign of His Majesty the King Mohammad Zahir Shah. Foreigners flocked to Kabul and the nation’s tourism industry picked up speed. To accompany the city with newfound tourism, western-style accommodations were opened in the 1960s, notably the Ariana Hotel. Western, American and Japanese tourists were visiting the city’s attractions including the “celebrated” Chicken Street and the National Museum that used to have some of Asia’s finest cultural artefacts. During this time, Kabul had been nicknamed the Paris of Central Asia.
The Hotel Ballroom 2001-2021
Off what was once the hotel ballroom – converted into a storeroom – was the Tali-Bar. CIA field officers in particular are known to have a taste for adult beverages. But where can one find a drink in Afghanistan? They have learned the agency runs a secret bar in the Afghan capital of Kabul. There, weary CIA and other undercover spies and counterterrorism operatives, including FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration agents, are known to imbibe a much-deserved whiskey or beer. Journalists in the country were not allowed into the watering hole, called the “Talibar”. To reach the bar, one must be invited. Only a select group of U.S. government officials were extended the courtesy. The tradition in the bar is for those who have finished their tours of duty to sign their names on the wall, along with a few comments about their experience in Afghanistan. The comments were wide-ranging, and of course, classified as secret.
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