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
Vehicle bomb attack close to German embassy in Kabul 31 May killed over 90, mostly civilians, and injured hundreds; Taliban said it was not responsible. Other attacks in Kabul during month included eight civilians killed in Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K)-claimed suicide bombing targeting U.S. military convoy 3 May. Taliban attacks included: 1 May attack on security forces in Ghormach district, Faryab province (north), killing five police; 21 May attack on police checkpoints in Zabul province (south), killing at least 25; 27 May suicide bombing in Khost province (east) killing over a dozen. Authorities in Badghis province (north west) reported 22 insurgents, six security forces and eight civilians killed in fighting in Qadis district 27 May. In Nangarhar province (east), IS-K 17 May stormed state TV offices in Jalalabad, killing at least six including two police; authorities reported fifteen IS-K militants and six civilians killed in clashes in Achin district 26 May; govt claimed 34 IS-K militants killed in air raids 7-8 May; officials 8 May confirmed IS-K head Sheikh Abdul Hasib killed during 27 April raid. Tensions with Pakistan escalated as twelve Afghan and Pakistani civilians were killed and scores wounded in 5 May clash with Pakistani forces along disputed stretch of border, after Pakistani military escorted census team into two villages claimed by both countries; accounts of military casualties on both sides unconfirmed and heavily disputed. Islamabad 27 May reopened Chaman border crossing on humanitarian grounds. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of insurgent group Hizb-e-Islami with whom govt signed peace deal in Sept 2016, resurfaced in public after late April return from exile, met President Ghani in Kabul 4 May accompanied by hundreds of heavily-armed guards; urged Taliban to join peace process and offered to mediate with govt. Opposition MPs criticised govt’s decision to vet 3,500 Hizbul-e-Islami fighters for inclusion in security forces. U.S. 24 May reported its warplanes had dropped more weapons on Afghanistan in April than any other month since 2012.
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