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
Taliban attacks continued throughout country, including 22-23 July capture of Kohistan district (Faryab province in N), and Taywara district (Ghor province in centre). At least 38 killed in Taliban-claimed suicide attack on bus carrying govt employees in Kabul 24 July. Pentagon 14 July said U.S. forces killed Abu Sayed, leader of Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) in strike on group’s HQ in Kunar province. At least four Islamic State (ISIS) fighters attacked Iraqi embassy 31 July, killing two. UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan mid-year report documented over 1,660 civilian deaths and 3,580 injuries in first six months of 2017, similar to same period in 2016 but with marked increase in casualties among women and children; Kabul still worst-affected city. Creation of two new political groupings, one from within govt ranks and one from opposition, accentuated challenges facing President Ghani’s National Unity Government (NUG). Three influential ex-Northern Alliance leaders, Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, first VP and leader of Junbish-e Milli Islami Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Hezb-e-Wahdat Islami leader Mohammad Mohaqeq, 30 June announced formation of “coalition for the salvation of Afghanistan”, in Turkish capital Ankara; joined by acting Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. Coalition’s declared aim is to “prevent the collapse of the system and political chaos” due to security situation, “illegal process of govt operations”; accused Ghani of monopolising power and violating law, pressed for decentralisation of budgeting control to provinces and ministries, reiterated call for “systematic reforms” of security services. Several former officials under ex-President Karzai 16 July launched new opposition party Mehwar-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan, whose 74-member leadership council includes former Head of National Directorate of Security Rahmatullah Nabil and former National Security Council Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta.
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