The Diplomat, April 1, 2016
ACHIN, AFGHANISTAN. It is nearly breakfast time in the governmental office of the Achin district, in the far east of Nangarhar province. The road from Jalalabad, the provincial capital, is a Mediterranean landscape interrupted by mud-brick fortresses topped by an Afghan flag. Less than two months ago, these very check points were constantly attacked by the Islamic State of Khorasan, the South Asian branch of the Iraq and Syria-based group. Their aim is to conquer Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Central Asia countries.
Il Foglio, 30 Marzo 2016
Desarak, Afghanistan meridionale. Nel distretto di Achin ci sono circa settanta fabbriche di eroina, a due ore di macchina da Jalalabad, il capoluogo della provincia di Nangarhar che confina con il Pakistan. Le vallate verdi e i campi di ulivi che si attraversano per raggiungerlo ricordano che l’inverno è mite e l’estate torrida, il clima migliore per la crescita del papavero da oppio. I carichi di eroina già lavorata partono da questa zona dell’Afghanistan verso paesi confinanti, come il Pakistan e l’Iran, e raggiungono anche l’Europa, in particolare l’Italia e l’Inghilterra.
Middle East Monitor, November 12 2014
It was in March 2011 when Nour (name changed), a student at Damascus University, first heard raised voices in the streets of Damascus. She read on Facebook that there was a protest against the regime; she could not believe that it would really happen, but it was true. Beneath her window, hundreds of people were shouting and chanting slogans against the regime, crisscrossing the area and calling for democracy.
Her body still shakes when she remembers that day. Today, in the same city, many young men have defected from the Syrian army and are hiding inside their houses. Check points are on every corner and snipers are positioned on rooftops, controlling the movements of the residents in each neighbourhood. Laments for the 7.5 million brothers and sisters dying of hunger in the rest of the country run through the Damascene nights, along with the echo of gunfire from outside the city. Life, though, carries on in the Syrian capital, where people pray that the Free Syria Army do not enter the city to liberate them from Bashar Al-Assad. At the moment, this is still better than freedom.
Al Monitor, May 23 2014
DAHUK, Iraq — When Nietzsche wrote “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” in 1885, he had to kill God to break the dichotomy between good and evil. In Iraqi Kurdistan, there was no need for that; adherents of Yazidism, the world’s most ancient monotheistic religion, already knew this.
According to this minority Kurdish group, Lucifer, the beautiful and vain angel of heaven, did not betray God and create evil, but simply manifested himself to the world, becoming the bridge between humans and the Creator. Melek Taus, as the Yazidis call him, is still worshipped in the Temple of Lalish, the sect’s holy site in northwestern Iraq. Yazidis consider themselves the direct descendants of Adam and perceive good and evil as the same faces of the same reality. Choosing the right side is up to each person’s soul.
This approach has caused nothing but pain for the Yazidi Kurds, who have been subject to many stereotypes in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran, such as their supposed reluctance to education.
Your Middle East, July 19 2014
There is an old saying: “Kurds have no friends but the mountains.” To their fellow Yazidi minority, this is even closer to the truth. Situated mainly in the Sheikhan and Sunnjar area of Iraqi Kurdistan, this Kurdish sect has been regarded by locals and foreigners as “devil worshippers” and persecuted throughout history for the very same reason. Three mountains, Arrafat, Mshat and Hzrat, surround their Holy Site in the Lalish valley, which, in the past, was a hidden haven for Yazidism‘s followers.