Karaghuzhlah, Afghanistan—The problem, Abdul Majid will tell you as he leans his stooped, wasted frame against the trunk of a dying apricot tree in his brother’s yard, is not the Taliban. It’s true, the Taliban have been advancing for months through the ancient cob villages of Balkh province.
For the next several weeks, Anna Badkhen will be traveling through Afghanistan’s north, documenting life there during this pivotal year for the U.S.-led war. This is the first in a series of dispatches Badkhen will be writing for TNR Online about her experiences. Karaghuzhlah, Afghanistan—You can spot the village from miles away, quivering in refracted sunlight above a tract of Bactrian desert dun and tufted like a camel’s hide. The black crown of a sole pine, a rarity in these alkaline plains, marks the village’s eastern boundary.