Selected features and news

 

On the Edge of Afghanistan

Foreign Policy Magazine, Sept/Oct 2017 issue

Nimruz is wild country, like something out of Mad Max. Lawless, infested by smugglers and a financial artery for the Taliban, it is a microcosm of everything that went wrong in the war. It is also the main gateway for migrants leaving the country. 

 

The war America can't win: how the Taliban are regaining control in Afghanistan

The Guardian, August 2017

From Helmand: The Taliban control places like Helmand where the US and UK troops fought their hardest battles, pushing the drive towards peace and progress in reverse.

 

"I can have you killed": Afghan woman fears husband after US denies asylum

The Guardian, August 2017

Shakila Zareen's asylum application was initially approved after her husband shot her but was it later denied under Donald Trump's new migration policies.

 

Devastation and a war that rages on: visiting the valley hit by the Moab attack

The Guardian, April 2017

The US attack on Isis in Afghanistan means locals could return to their villages – but the scenes on the ground were grim, and the fighting is far from over

 

First Helmand, Then Afghanistan

Foreign Policy Magazine, September 2016

A trip through the country's beleaguered south reveals demoralized soldiers, corrupt officials, and sweeping Taliban gains the previously peaceful towns. How did Obama's "good war" go so wrong?

 

Death of a General

Harper's Magazine, July 2016

Investigation into the American military's failure to prevent insider attacks.

 

Erdogan's Warriors

GQ Magazine, December 2016

People power foiled July's coup attempt in Turkey, but the real winner was president Erdogan. Does the mixture of loyalty, adoration and fear he instils make him a champion of freedom or a dictator who has "hooliganized" the population?

 

ISIS, Afghanistan's Accidental Brokers?

The New York Times, December 2016

Three times in three months, militants acting in ISIS' name have targeted Shias in the Afghan capital, killing at least 125. But their aim of creating sectarian divisions in Afghanistan has failed. Some Shias and Sunnis seem to have moved closer together. This popular reaction bears a lesson to the Taliban for a future peace process.  

 

Taliban teachers: how militants are infiltrating Afghan schools

The Guardian, May 2017

Educators face pressure to give good marks to young fighters while others are swapping chalk for Kalashnikovs after lessons

 

Student's lynching sparks rare uproar in Pakistan over blasphemy killings

The Guardian, April 2017

Mashal Khan was shot dead by a mob after a heated discussion about Abdul Wali Khan university, and activists are pointing to archaic blasphemy laws and their frequent misuse for revenge and personal gain

 

Dam project promises water - but also conflict - for dusty Afghan borderlands

The Guardian, March 2017

Neglected Nimruz province hopes a dam will boost agriculture but faces hostility from Iran, unhappy at the Helmand river’s meager flow, and their Taliban allies

 

Afghanistan funds abusive militias as US military ignores situation, officials say

The Guardian, December 2016

I uncover how foreign donor money goes to Afghan spy agency, which arms groups intended to fight the Taliban - but some militia leaders instead target local officials.

 

'My grandsons fight to avenge their father': child soldiers in Afghanistan

The Guardian, May 2016 

Despite pledges to rid the armed forces of children, the number of minors recruited to fight is rising 

 

Relations between the US and the UN strained over war reports

The Guardian, December 2016

US military is increasingly trying to control public information about the conflict, nearly leading to ban on UN staff from Kabul base.

 

Afghanistan's vice president is accused of kidnapping a rival

The Economist, December 2016

General Dostum is not to be messed with. He is an example of the culture of impunity and warlordism that still plagues Afghanistan. However, some Afghans see impunity as a price worth paying for peace. 

 

Iran covertly recruits Afghan Shias to fight in Syria

The Guardian, June 2016

Investigation into how Afghan men are coerced into fighting for militias loyal to Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

 

ISIS in Afghanistan: 'Their peak is over, but they are not finished'

The Guardian, November 2016

Report from eastern Afghanistan where Islamic State holds a small but resilient stronghold, exerting brutal control over civilians

 

Kunduz hospital attack: how a US military 'mistake' left 22 dead

The Guardian, October 2015

Reconstruction of the tragic events inside the MSF hospital, hit repeatedly for more than an hour in a US airstrike.  

 

Dead Billionaire Walking

Newsweek Magazine, March 2016

Reporting from Iran and Malaysia on the quick rise and brutal fall of Iran's top sanctions buster, Babak Zanjani. 

 

In Hassan Rouhani's Iran, an Indie Rock Band Can Play Once But Not Twice

The New Republic Magazine, May 2014

In Tehran, small rips have begun to appear in the cloak of censorship.

 

An Iranian Dissident Returns Home

Al Jazeera America, July 2014

Friends and family had warned the popular filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof not to return to Iran. Although he had a prison sentence looming over his head, he ignored the advice. In his only interview since his return, he explains why.

 

US drone targeting ISIS kills at least 15 civilians

The Guardian, September 2016

The US deny killing civilians, but in Jalalabad, we meet survivors and injured civilians, including a 12-year-old boy.

 

EU signs deal to deport unlimited number of Afghan refugees

The Guardian, October 2016

I broke this story on an EU-Afghan deal, which considers building a reception terminal at Kabul airport dedicated to deportees, despite warnings from experts that violence and instability in Afghanistan make deportations unsafe.

 

Hamid Karzai: US airstrikes undermine Afghan security

The Guardian, August 2016

Interview with the former Afghan president in Kabul.

 

The former child bride who is using her story to liberate Afghan women 

The Guardian, July 2016

Zahra Yaganah who was married off at 13 to an abusive husband. Now, an author, her book is shining a light on abuse in Afghanistan. 

 

Kabul's expat bubble used to be like Boogie Nights - now it's more like Panic Room

The Guardian, July 2016

While Western eyes are elsewhere, in Afghanistan's capital, our correspondent finds poets, rappers and Shakira, and diplomats cowering behind blast walls.

 

Afghanistan's 'ghost soldiers': thousands enlisted to fight Taliban don't exist

The Guardian, May 2016

Exclusive from Helmand: Investigation found 40% of troops in Helmand province are fake names or dead men, leaving ill equipped border patrol to man the frontline.

 

Where the streets have no men: the Nepalese town where women hold sway

The Guardian, May 2016

Years of migration by men taking up jobs abroad have drained Bhramarpura of working-age men, leaving women to take the reins.

 

All Hail, the Brother of the Lion of Panjsher

Foreign Policy Magazine, April 2016

Ahmad Zia Massoud is fed up with Kabul and threatening to fill the power vacuum inside Afghanistan’s crumbling government.

 

'I never heard from them again': an Afghan family's doomed journey

The Guardian, February 2016

As Germany returns 125 asylum seekers to Afghanistan, one Kabul resident tells of his family's ill-fated bid to leave for a better life.

 

 

Tragic tale of Afghan brothers sent home from Denmark to uncertain fate

The Guardian, October 2015

When Danish police put asylum seekers Vahid and Abolfazl Vaziri on a plane to Kabul in June it was the start of a terrible ordeal for the vulnerable young men.

 

Afghanistan's warlord vice-president spoils for a fight with the Taliban

The Guardian, August 2015

Interview with General Abdul Rashid Dostum in his pink palace in Sheberghan.

 

All that remains: our questionable legacy in Afghanistan

Good Weekend Magazine, July 2015

Australian forces have left Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, but what is their legacy? Despite an eight-year mission costing billions of dollars, unrest and instability remain.

 

Season of Bloodshed

The Economist Magazine, May 2015

Report from Kunduz in Afghanistan's north, where the Taliban are waging a fierce campaign.

 

The Battle for Helmand

Al Jazeera America, June 2015

A struggle for peace in the Afghan province most deadly for foreign troops.

 

He Was the Savior of Afghan Music, Then a Taliban Bomb Took His Hearing

The Guardian, May 2015

When musicologist Ahmad Sarmast’s pioneering institute – open to girls and boys, women and men from all backgrounds – became a target, it nearly cost him his life. But the attack has only made him more determined.

 

The Art of War

Good Weekend Magazine, April 2015

Conflict and brutality have formed the work of Australian artist George Gittoes, who now lives where few foreigners go, in Afghanistan's Jalalabad.

 

Ashraf Ghani's Struggle

Foreign Policy, September 2014

Interview with Afghanistan's new president. Ghani has high hopes and big ideas. But is he the right man to lead Afghanistan?

 

Tourism After the Taliban

Roads & Kingdoms, September 2014

Bamiyan, a small mountain town in Afghanistan best known for its blown-up Buddhas, wants to be your next holiday destination.

 

Change the Key, Rouhani

The Economist, March 2014

A female opera singer and the return of a famed conductor spur hopes a changing times in Tehran.

 

Meet the Australian Ex-Commando Saving Zimbabwe's Rhinos

Time Magazine, February 2014

On the front line of Zimbabwe's fight against poaching.

 

Shamsi Ali: The Rise and Fall of a New York Imam

BBC News, November 2013

An imam once regarded as one of New York's leading religious figures had a sudden fall from grace. The story of one man's attempt to adapt Islam to modern America.

 

After Torture and Persecution, Iranian Activists Work From Inside the U.S.

The Atlantic, June 2013

In the lead-up to the elections, activists are fighting U.S. sanctions, even as they push for reform in their former homelands.

 

Tight Times in the Grand Bazaar

Foreign Policy, January 2013

Are Iranians really feeling the pinch of international sanctions on their economy?