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.
The power dispute between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah is imperilling Afghanistan’s fragile security and recent economic progress. To avoid the collapse of the U.S.-brokered National Unity Government, both actors must end political partisanship and prioritise the public interest.
Originally published in POLITICO Europe
U.S. and NATO 3 Sept pledged to invest $7bn in Afghan air force over next four years; UN Secretary-General Guterres 16 Sept claimed military victory in insurgency is not possible and highlighted need to invest in conditions for political solution. Reports emerged late Sept that U.S. President Trump pushing President Ghani to ask Qatar to shut down Taliban’s “political office” in Doha, a channel of communication since 2013; Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates reportedly support move. Following further concern over activities of Pakistan-based terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan PM Abbasi speaking at UN General Assembly 22 Sept defended his country’s commitment to regional war on extremism, said military had “cleared out tribal areas of almost all militant groups”. In Nuristan province (east), military 9 Sept reported 85 Taliban killed in airstrikes, 13 Sept said they had repelled major Taliban ground offensive 11 Sept killing over 70 militants, while Taliban reported killing twenty forces. Insecurity continued in Kabul, where unclaimed suicide bomb attack outside cricket stadium 13 Sept killed one policeman and two civilians; Taliban car bomber targeting NATO convoy 24 Sept reportedly injured five civilians; Taliban 27 Sept claimed mortar attack targeting visiting U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis at airport, no casualties reported; U.S. forces retaliated with airstrike, accidentally killing unreported number of civilians due to “missile malfunction”. In Kandahar province (south), suicide bomber 15 Sept struck NATO convoy in provincial capital, killing Romanian soldier; roadside bomb 18 Sept reportedly killed six civilians near capital. As electoral commission began assessment of polling stations in unstable areas, NGO Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan expressed doubts over prospect of credible and legitimate elections due to Taliban control over parts of country, security threats, lack of capacity and trust in electoral commission.
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.
Too often, the Afghan Local Police (ALP) has preyed on those it is meant to guard. Some members are outright bandits, exacerbating conflict. Rogue units should be disbanded, and better ones integrated into the armed forces. This must be done carefully and slowly, or else insurgents will win a new military edge.
As Pakistan seeks to consolidate its fragile democracy, it should seize the moment to improve relations with its Afghan neighbour. Its biggest challenge comes from within. The civilian government has to regain control over national security and foreign policy from the military.
Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, inherits a government that is running out of money and losing ground to the insurgency. As foreign troops withdraw, the new government must stay united and move quickly on reforms.
To contain a growing, increasingly confident insurgency as NATO troops withdraw, Afghanistan needs continued international support, including military, and the new government in Kabul will need to reinvigorate the state’s commitment to the rule of law.
[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.
[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.
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.
[Afghan refugees] settle around urban centres, which may be relatively safe, but what essentially happens is it cuts them off from communities they belong to.
[The Taliban] is becoming more efficient in systematically taxing the areas they either control or have a lot of influence on. Efficiency of taxation [helps] to sustain the group for a long time.
Obama's hasty exit strategy along a set timeline had a negative impact on the dynamics of conflict in Afghanistan.
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.
Originally published in Boston Globe
Originally published in The Interpreter
Die Aufrüstung der Afghan Local Police wäre ein tragischer Fehler
Originally published in Internationale Politik