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.
Donors and Afghan state agencies must urgently tackle an economic crisis building up since 2014, when foreign troops started leaving and political instability worsened. The starting point must be a socio-economic assessment of just how big the problems are.
Originally published in POLITICO Europe
Tensions with Pakistan rose after Islamabad accused Afghanistan of harbouring terrorists responsible for series of deadly attacks in Pakistan including 16 Feb Islamic State (IS)-claimed Sufi shrine bombing in Sindh province (see Pakistan). Pakistani military 17 Feb shelled targets in Afghanistan it claimed were Pakistani Taliban camps, reportedly displacing at least 150 families in eastern Kunar and Nangarhar provinces, and enforced indefinite closure of shared border; also summoned Afghan diplomats and demanded immediate handover of over 76 terrorists allegedly hiding in Afghanistan. Kabul reportedly responded by summoning Pakistani ambassador and submitting list of 85 Afghan insurgent leaders and 32 training camps located in Pakistan. Afghan govt and U.S. military enhanced operations against so-called IS-Khorasan (IS-K) targets in east: NATO 2 Feb confirmed U.S. military had killed Qari Munib and Shahid Omar, two top IS-K leaders in Nangarhar. Insurgents continued to carry out high profile attacks, including 7 Feb suicide bombing outside Supreme Court that killed at least twenty people and injured 40; and 17 Feb attack against army outposts in Dih Bala district, Nangarhar province, which left at least eighteen soldiers dead and twelve injured, claimed by IS-K. ICRC temporarily suspended operations in Afghanistan after suspected IS-K 8 Feb killed six ICRC workers and kidnapped two in Shibergan town, Jowzjan province. Taliban claimed responsibility for blast killing five soldiers and seven civilians in Helmand provincial capital Lashkargah 11 Feb; and ambush killing ten police and civilian in Darzab district, Jowzjan province 25 Feb. Officials claimed 11 Feb U.S. airstrikes in Helmand’s Sangin district killed at least 60 Taliban and foiled plan for major offensive. NATO opened investigation into allegations that U.S. airstrikes killed at least 22 civilians 10 Feb. Russia 15 Feb hosted second Afghanistan peace conference in Moscow aimed at finding political settlement and containing IS-K: India, Pakistan, Iran, China and Afghanistan participated. Testifying before U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee 9 Feb, NATO and U.S. forces commander Gen John Nicholson said Russia and Iran supporting Taliban, trying to legitimise it by claiming it was fighting IS-K and aiming to undermine U.S. and NATO; also called for deployment of few thousand more troops to train and advise Afghan army.
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.
Women are increasingly exposed to violence and exclusion from the public sphere as Afghanistan nears the 2014 security transition and conservative forces gain momentum.
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.
The Taliban need to receive a strong assurance from coalition forces, in particular, the US, before making the move [to proposed safe zones].
The Taliban [in their assault on Kunduz] wanted to manoeuvre, raise their flag and then quickly leave. The Taliban know that they are not capable of holding onto the city centre.
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
Originally published in Reuters