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Afghanistan

Amidst an intensifying Taliban insurgency and emerging Islamic State threat, Afghanistan's path to peace and stability looks ever more perilous. Taliban militants now control more territory than at any time since its ouster by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001. Crisis Group is one of the few analytical organisations with a presence in Afghanistan. We help local and international stakeholders to comprehend the context and drivers of conflict, militant extremism, political-economic fragility, and its implications for the world and the region. Crisis Group helps local authorities and the international community formulate effective policies to  improve governance and security in the country and stop violent extremism.

CrisisWatch Afghanistan

Unchanged Situation

With end of fighting season, month saw reduced fighting across country, with few major Taliban attacks, but increased Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP)-related casualties. Taliban 13-14 Nov attacked military positions in Kandahar (south) and Farah (west) provinces, killing scores. In Kabul, IS-KP suicide bombers 7 Nov stormed television station, killing at least two, and 16 Nov attacked gathering of Jamiat-e Islami supporters in north of city, killing fourteen, mostly police. IS-KP also expanded control in Nangarhar (east), Laghman (east) and Jawzjan (north) provinces disputed with Taliban during month, despite continued U.S. strikes on IS-KP positions. Local sources said U.S. airstrikes 3 Nov killed dozens of civilians in Kunduz’s Chardara district in north; U.S. military rejected reports, but UN mission (UNAMA) confirmed death of at least ten civilians. During visit to Afghanistan late Oct, U.S. Sec State Rex Tillerson pledged U.S. support to fight Taliban. Taliban and independent Afghan politicians postponed meeting scheduled early Nov in Dubai, after United Arab Emirates denied visas. Pakistan 13 Nov said Pakistani militants hiding in Afghanistan crossed border to attack army post in Pakistan’s Bajaur Agency, killing two soldiers; 15 Nov said it fired over 500 missiles into eastern Kunar province in retaliation, killing at least one civilian, displacing hundreds. Pakistan 14 Nov summoned Afghan ambassador in Islamabad and pressed govt to take action against Pakistani militants in Afghanistan, saying NATO and Afghan authorities should “do more” to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries; U.S. General Joseph Votel 16 Nov urged Islamabad to act against militant groups in Pakistan. President Ghani 15 Nov fired head of Independent Election Commission, criticised for being “incompetent” and “politicised”. Opposition accused govt of failing to deliver on promises, said govt unwilling to hold free and fair elections in 2018 (legislative) and 2019 (presidential). UN 15 Nov reported opium production increased by 87% from 2016, due in part to insecurity and increasing corruption. Long-awaited agreement signed in Turkmen capital Ashgabat 15 Nov to connect Afghanistan to Europe by road, rail and sea through Turkmenistan (see Turkmenistan).

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

4 Dec 2017
What distinguishes [the Taliban 'Special Forces Unit'] from other fighting units is its intensive and longer training, the degree of vetting, its tactics, weapons and equipment, and structure. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
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Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
1 Dec 2017
IS in Afghanistan never was such a solid, coherent organization, even from the beginning. Reuters
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Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
19 Nov 2017
[Afghanistan's minister for border and tribal affairs] Sherzai has been prone to arming people of his own tribe after he emerged as one of the most powerful men in the south after the fall of the Taliban. The Guardian
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Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
19 Apr 2017
[The use of the "Mother of All Bombs" is about] sending a clear message to regional players [...] to say that the U.S. is ready to take action and utilize necessary force. Foreign Policy

Timor Sharan

Former Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
14 Apr 2017
[The U.S. bombing] sounds more like a message to the international rivals [...] than actually a serious attempt by the Trump administration to get more deeply involved in the Afghan war. Los Angeles Times

Timor Sharan

Former Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
25 Mar 2017
We don’t know whether the former commanders [of Hezb-i-Islami in Afghanistan] will unite around [Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar or work against him. This is his last attempt to reach power. The Washington Post

Timor Sharan

Former Senior Analyst, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

Op-Ed / Global

The International Criminal Court’s Case Against the United States in Afghanistan

In recent years, a confrontation between the U.S. government and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been looming over the alleged actions of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Crisis Group's U.S. Program Director Stephen Pomper unpicks the unique U.S.-ICC relationship and outlines the choices left open to Washington.

Originally published in Just Security

Commentary / Asia

Afghanistan: Growing Challenges

Political fractures continue to weaken the Afghan National Unity Government as the Taliban insurgency expands and an Islamic State affiliate strengthens its foothold. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to continue to provide technical support to the negotiating process and take measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

Counter-terrorism Pitfalls: What the U.S. Fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda Should Avoid

This report examines President Trump’s emerging counter-terrorism policies, the dilemmas his administration faces in battling ISIS and al-Qaeda across the Middle East and South Asia, and how to avoid deepening the disorder both groups exploit.

Op-Ed / Asia

Dealing with disaster in Afghanistan

Originally published in Boston Globe

Our People

Timor Sharan

Former Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
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Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
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