By Anna Badkhen
To many americans, 2011 used to be the make-or-break 12 months in Afghanistan, a yr within which NATO by some means was once alleged to pave the best way for American troops to finish what had develop into, a decade after the invasion, the longest overseas struggle in U.S. historical past. To such a lot Afghans, in whose land the U.S. was once scuffling with the struggle, 2011 was once a yr of renewed violence and of renewed fatalism. yet eventually, it was once a great deal a yr like many prior to it and possibly many to come back: Of celebrations and toil, of kids born and death, a yr of drought and henna events, of worry and pleasure, of desolation and sweetness, of unnamable pain and incorrigible dignity. one other 12 months of life.
“If you can’t comprehend a rustic simply from taking a look at the towns, you actually can’t comprehend a battle simply from analyzing concerning the battles. A decade after the autumn of the Taliban, because the Afghan battle unfold alarmingly from the south and the east of the rustic into what had hitherto been the really peaceable provinces of Northern Afghanistan, Anna Badkhen spent a yr embedded no longer with NATO forces yet with the agricultural inhabitants of the usually missed north. She did this at huge own probability, touring on my own to villages and towns to carry a narrative that has hardly ever been instructed by means of Western journalists.”
--Peter Bergen, writer of The Longest warfare, in his preface to Afghanistan through Donkey.
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Additional resources for Afghanistan by Donkey: One Year in a War Zone
M. last night, monitoring by radio the latest Taliban assault on the police checkpoint in Kushteppeh, then woke shortly after dawn to wait for word about the number of casualties from the battle. S. troops deployed to Afghanistan, he looks panicked. S. forces in July, he says, is categorically premature. “Osama may be dead, but the Taliban are stepping up their offensive,” the colonel tells me. He fiddles with his radio, listening for updates from Kushteppeh. He apologizes for being distracted—“the security is very bad, very bad”—and offers a word of advice: “Don’t travel through Jowzjan early in the morning, before eight, or after one in the afternoon.
His favorite pastime is to fire his slingshot: At speckled desert birds, at distant rocks, at the immense blue sky. He recently got into a wrestling match with a nine-year-old girl. ) Child marriage in Afghanistan is pandemic. “In the villages people be37 ANNA BADKHEN • AFGHANISTAN BY DONKEY • SPRING lieve very strongly that the earlier you marry the better: This way your children are old enough to help you with work while you are still young,” says Farid Mutaqi, a human rights worker in Mazar-e-Sharif.
You can tell where they are at any given moment by the ringing of the coins and bells their mothers sew onto their clothes, to ward off evil spirits. Mostly, they are looking for entertainment. Anything will do: The bizarre, bellicose erotica of an American B-52 bomber refueling in the glass-blue sky above them. The frayed rope swing strung from a crooked wooden pole in the middle of the village. The baby camel hitched to the rusty barrel of a Soviet anti-aircraft gun, a relic of another war. A few days after the school year had begun, the kids shrieked and jingled through a gale that blew pulverized sand into their eyes and mouths until they reached the abandoned mosque.
Afghanistan by Donkey: One Year in a War Zone by Anna Badkhen