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 stop violent extremism and improve governance in the country.
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
Three high profile attacks shook cities of Kabul, Lashkargah and Kandahar 10 Jan. Twin suicide bombing near parliament in Kabul left 51 people dead and 150 injured, mostly parliamentary staff and police; Taliban claimed responsibility, said target was bus carrying National Directorate of Security (NDS) personnel. Suicide in Lashkar Gah killed thirteen NDS personnel. Bomb blast at Kandahar governor’s guesthouse killed eleven including five UAE diplomats and deputy governor, over a dozen injured including governor and UAE ambassador; no group claimed responsibility, officials blamed Pakistan-based Haqqani network. Insurgents 20-21 Jan carried out major assault in Maiwand district, Kandahar, killing at least sixteen police and capturing two outposts. Gunmen 6 Jan ambushed ethnic Hazara miners in Baghlan province killing at least nine; Taliban denied responsibility. Taliban attack on army post in Helmand province 31 Jan resulted in at least ten soldiers reported killed; U.S. launched airstrikes on Taliban positions. Islamic State (IS) continued efforts to consolidate presence in Nangarhar province: reportedly destroyed 65 houses in Kot district; 15 Jan kidnapped fourteen staff from religious school in Haska Mina district. Govt reported anti-IS operations in southern Zabul province killed 57 suspected militants 23-25 Jan. At least ten killed in explosion in Pachir Wa Agam district, Nangarhar 15 Jan; at least three security officials killed by IED in Sehra Bagh, Khost province; both attacks unclaimed. Divisions widened within Jamiat-i-Islami party after chief executive and acting Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor late Dec revealed he had engaged in talks with President Ghani to join national govt; Noor had previously complained about Chief Executive Abdullah’s failure to represent interests of the party in govt. Ethnic Panjshiri MPs and leaders in meetings 18-20 Jan agreed to elect leader from Panjshir to counter Noor’s growing influence in Jamiat. UN 21 Jan warned country is facing major humanitarian crisis with a third of population likely to need assistance in 2017; appealed for more than $500mn in aid.
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.
Afghanistan’s political parties must exercise restraint as they jostle for power in the final months of President Karzai’s mandate. For its part, the outgoing administration should also resist calls to excessively regulate the parties. A commitment to pluralism, by all players, is key to the legitimacy of Kabul politics – and an important advantage against armed insurgents.
[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.
This is putting unreasonable pressure on the Afghan government, which is not able to respond to such numbers
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
Originally published in Política Exterior