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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

As momentum grew in U.S. negotiations with Taliban, intense hostilities on all sides continued despite winter conditions. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad 2 Dec started third trip to region, including meetings in Abu Dhabi 17-18 Dec with delegations from United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and separately with Taliban. Taliban reiterated refusal to meet Afghan govt delegation and demand for withdrawal of U.S. forces; U.S. requested a ceasefire. Khalilzad said discussions were “productive”, UAE announced another round of talks to “complete the Afghanistan reconciliation process”. Reports 20 Dec that U.S. President Trump ordered military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in coming months in abrupt policy shift were contradicted by White House 28 Dec, saying no drawdown planned. Iranian security official visiting Kabul 26 Dec said Iran has been holding talks with Taliban on security issues in Afghanistan, with further talks taking place 30 Dec. Major Taliban attacks and govt offensives continued including in Farah province where Taliban overran police outpost outside provincial capital and seized Shib-e Kuh district; Ghazni; and Helmand, where powerful Taliban commander and Helmand province shadow governor Abdul Manan was killed in airstrike in Nawzad district 1 Dec. Taliban claimed responsibility for 11 Dec suicide bomb hitting govt convoy outside Kabul, killing at least four govt personnel and eight civilians; also continued to increase pressure on major highways. Militants stormed govt offices in Kabul 24 Dec, killing at least 43; Taliban denied responsibility. Month saw increase in U.S.-led airstrikes and night raids, contributing to high level of civilian fatalities. Afghan army reported it had killed Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) spokesman Sultan Aziz Azam in drone strike in Nangarhar 26 Dec. Political factions continued to contest preliminary results of Oct parliamentary elections; Independent Election Commission (IEC)’s ongoing announcement of results prompted demonstrations and complaints to Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, which 5 Dec decided to invalidate all Kabul votes due to technical problems and fraud allegations. IEC 30 Dec announced presidential election to be delayed three months until 20 July “to better prepare for the vote”.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

1 Jan 2019
While the news of a potential U.S. drawdown may be a reason for cautious optimism in the region, [Afghanistan's neighbours] don’t want an abrupt withdrawal. Reuters

Graeme Smith

Former Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
1 Aug 2018
Attacking lightly defended targets has been part of [the Islamic State's] modus operandi from the outset. AFP

Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
11 Jun 2018
This mutual [Afghan] ceasefire, if successful, can possibly inspire or encourage future, more substantial steps towards peacemaking. Fighting has been the integral feature that has characterized the Taliban since the movement was born. A break from it, although very brief, represents an important departure from its modus operandi. AFP

Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
8 Feb 2018
The U.S. and Afghan governments are unleashing more violence based on the same rationale that it would tilt this stalemate to favor their conditions at the table. Reuters

Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
6 Feb 2018
U.S. allies in Afghanistan should push for a greater diplomatic political component to the U.S. strategy. As it stands, [it] sets the stage for more violence while closing avenues for de-escalation. The Conversation

Robert Malley

President & CEO
30 Jan 2018
Increasing pressure on [Kabul's] battlefield may lead [the Taliban and IS] to hit back in an area where they can publicly disprove the rhetoric of the U.S. military or Afghan government. AFP

Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

Report / Asia

Building on Afghanistan’s Fleeting Ceasefire

The end-of-Ramadan truce in Afghanistan was brief but encouraging, demonstrating that both Afghan government soldiers and the Taliban rank and file will respect ceasefire orders from above. Both sides, alongside the U.S., should now seize the opportunity to edge closer to meaningful talks about peace.

Also available in دری, پښتو
Commentary / Asia

The Cost of Escalating Violence in Afghanistan

Taliban attacks in Kabul in late January 2018 are part of an escalation in violence in Afghanistan, where the civilian population is bearing the brunt of a particularly intense winter of fighting.

Also available in 简体中文
Commentary / Asia

A Dangerous Escalation in Afghanistan

The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is likely to continue unabated in 2018, despite the U.S. effort to step up its military campaign. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to utilise its influence with Afghan political actors to help rebuild trust and increase prospects for mediation.

Commentary / Asia

U.S. Bombing of Afghan Drug Labs Won't Crush the Taliban

U.S. aerial bombing of drug laboratories in Afghanistan will solve neither the country’s Taliban insurgency nor its drugs problem.

Our People

Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan