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The war in Afghanistan is the world’s most lethal conflict. Taliban militants now control more territory than at any time since the U.S.-led coalition drove the group out of Kabul in 2001. At the same time, an unprecedented ceasefire in 2018 and subsequent negotiation efforts have illuminated the possibility of peace. Crisis Group is one of the few organisations conducting research on the ground in Afghanistan. We seek to help the conflict parties comprehend their adversaries’ motives and political constraints, while encouraging them to pursue talks. We also help Afghan and international leaders formulate policies to improve governance and security.

CrisisWatch Afghanistan

Unchanged Situation

Reduced number of major Taliban attacks in urban zones coincided with renewal of U.S. peace talks with Taliban in Qatar, while violence remained high in outlying areas, partly driven by tensions over presidential elections. U.S. 7 Dec resumed talks with Taliban in Doha, three months after President Trump froze negotiations; U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad 12 Dec announced “brief pause” in U.S.-Taliban negotiations after Taliban attacked medical facility near U.S. Bagram Airfield near Kabul previous day, killing two civilians and wounding 73. Palace spokesperson 28 Dec said that President Ashraf Ghani would name a negotiating team following U.S.-Taliban talks, in preparation for intra-Afghan phase of peace process. Serious security incidents continued across country including Taliban raid on govt outpost in Imam Sahib district, Kunduz province 6 Dec, killing eleven security forces. In Mazar-e-Sharif (north) security forces fought pro-govt militia 14-15 Dec in clash reportedly related to domestic political tensions; Interior Ministry reported it as insider attack where militia member killed nine of his fellow militiamen, Taliban reported it as coordinated militant attack with 24 dead. Taliban 25 Dec abducted 27 Afghan activists from People’s Peace Movement (PPM) taking part in peace march in Farah province (west). Taliban end month increased attacks on Afghan military bases and checkpoints: in northern Balkh province, car bombing 26 Dec killed at least six soldiers; in southern Helmland province, explosion then gunbattle 27 Dec killed ten soldiers; in Takhar province (north) 29 Dec attack on local pro-govt militia officer who escaped left seventeen militiamen dead. Officials 1 Dec reported 113 Islamic State members surrendered in Achin district (east). Independent Election Commission 22 Dec announced preliminary results of 28 Sept presidential elections results, confirming President Ghani’s re-election by a narrow margin pending final results in coming weeks. Ghani’s main opponent Abdullah Abdullah said he would contest preliminary results, including over 300,000 votes he considered suspicious, insisting he would not accept “fraudulent” result, accused Ghani and international community of perpetrating fraud.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

21 Oct 2019
The Taliban have always said, ‘We will never negotiate the future of Afghanistan while foreign troops have their boots on our soil.’ They compromised on that, and that’s huge. The New Yorker

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
2 Oct 2019
The debate about [whether] US should distance itself from the [Mideast] region and reduce its military footprint is important but somewhat beside the point. The more consequential question is what kind of Middle East the United States will remain engaged in or disengaged from. Twitter

Robert Malley

President & CEO
27 Aug 2019
A U.S.-Taliban deal cannot be a peace agreement because it settles nothing about the dispute within Afghanistan. It only settles the question of the American presence in Afghanistan. NPR

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
5 Jul 2019
An agreement that is just between the US and the Taliban is not a peace agreement for Afghanistan. AFP

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
4 Mar 2019
I don’t believe that Pakistan has the capability to straight out make peace happen in Afghanistan, but they definitely have the capability to make peace not [happen]. Reuters

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
12 Feb 2019
[Without a solid plan for the US to leave Afghanistan] the inferno of violence that follows might be much worse. AFP

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – Third Update

Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The third update to the Watch List 2019 includes entries on Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Sudan and Yemen.

Speech / Asia

The Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Policy

In this written statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on 19 September, Crisis Group's Program Director for Asia Laurel Miller assesses the Trump Administration's efforts to secure a peace deal with the Taliban and the potentional risks and rewards of such a deal. 

Also available in پښتو
Q&A / Asia

Behind Trump’s Taliban Debacle

On 7 September, U.S. President Donald Trump made the startling announcement that he had invited Taliban leaders to Camp David for talks – and then cancelled the gathering. Crisis Group Asia Program Director Laurel Miller and consultant Graeme Smith explain what happened and what it means for prospects of ending Afghanistan’s war.

Op-Ed / Asia

The U.S. Shouldn’t Stumble Out of Afghanistan

Letting the country unravel isn't an exit strategy.

Originally published in Foreign Policy

Q&A / Asia

Afghanistan Diplomacy Gathers Steam Even as Attacks Increase

This week the Afghan government and Taliban met publicly for the first time – albeit informally – for a peace dialogue. Crisis Group’s Senior Afghanistan Analyst Borhan Osman explains what the talks mean and what may lie ahead.

Our People

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan

Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan