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 claimed attacks against military and civilians throughout country, including 21 April attack in Mazar-e-Sharif city, Balkh province, in which gunmen in military uniforms infiltrated army base killing at least 140 soldiers in deadliest Taliban attack on armed forces since 2001; defence minister and army chief of staff resigned following incident. Taliban 28 April announced start of spring offensive “Operation Mansouri”. Taliban also carried out 1 April suicide car bombing killing regional army commander and two soldiers in Khost province; govt blamed Taliban for 15 April roadside bomb that killed at least eleven civilians in Helmand province; in Zabul province, Taliban 18 April killed Shenkay district police chief. In Baghlan province, NATO and govt forces in joint operation 18 April killed fifteen Taliban militants, including shadow provincial governor. Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) claimed 12 April suicide bombing that killed at least five civilians near president’s administration office in Kabul. Operations against IS-K in Achin district, Nangarhar province saw one U.S. soldier killed 8 April, two killed 26 April. U.S. military dropped 22,000-pound bomb, most powerful conventional explosive in its arsenal, on IS-K position in Achin district 13 April, killing at least 94 suspected militants and prompting criticism from some Afghan politicians. Govt 26 April reported IS-K attacked Taliban in N Jowzjan province taking control of two districts, 76 Taliban and fifteen IS-K fighters killed. U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster visiting Kabul 16 April reiterated U.S. commitment to Afghanistan, urged Pakistan to pursue terrorists “less selectively” than in past. Russia 14 April hosted conference on resolving Afghanistan conflict with diplomats from Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and five Central Asian states; U.S. declined invitation saying unilateral initiative not constructive, Taliban also rejected process. Govt 5 April called on Pakistan to stop constructing border fence along disputed stretch of Afghanistan-Pakistan border; 7 April told UNSC fence is illegal. Amid ongoing tensions in unity govt, President Ghani 16 April dismissed special advisor for reforms and good governance Ahmad Zia Masoud, allegedly for incompetence; Masoud warned dismissal could lead to political instability.
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