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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

Amid major Taliban attacks on security forces and continued political tensions, negotiations between U.S. and Taliban saw some progress, but Taliban’s rejection of govt involvement remains major sticking point. U.S. and Taliban negotiations in Doha 25 Feb-12 March concluded with U.S. envoy Khalilzad and Taliban representatives agreeing “in draft” on U.S. military withdrawal and Taliban assurances to prevent country from becoming platform for international terrorism. U.S. said key obstacle was Taliban demand of three-to-six month withdrawal window, with U.S. suggesting three years. Taliban continued to reject engagement with Kabul, while govt also rejected negotiation formats not controlled by itself. President Ghani 8 March refused to participate in talks not led by govt, including “Moscow track” involving former President Karzai, and 11 March delayed national consultative meeting to 29 April. “Moscow track” meeting remains scheduled for mid-April, involving Taliban and major anti-Taliban factions. Tensions between Kabul and Washington increased with Afghan National Security Advisor Mohib 14 March accusing Khalilzad of delegitimising govt. Hostilities continued, with major Taliban attacks including on Afghan Army HQ in Washir district, Helmand province, killing 50 soldiers 1 March; and in Badghis province 11-16 March, killing twenty and capturing over 100 govt forces. Afghan and U.S. night raids and airstrikes reportedly killed at least 24 civilians in Nangarhar and Ghazni provinces 8-12 March; Ghani 13 March issued orders to abort or wait out operations in case of civilian presence; U.S. airstrike 23 March killed fourteen civilians after insider attack in Kunduz province. UN 24 Feb reported 3,804 conflict-related civilian deaths in 2018. Islamic State-Khorasan Province launched two attacks on urban centres, killing sixteen civilians near Jalalabad 6 March, and eleven Shiite Hazaras gathering in Kabul 7 March. Political tensions continued: Ghani 3 March appointed new commissioners and secretaries for Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission; authorities 20 March announced another delay to presidential and provincial elections to 28 Sept, despite govt mandate ending late May. In Mazar-i-Sharif, clashes over appointment of new police chief killed at least one 14 March.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

Consultant, Afghanistan
20 Jan 2019
The most fundamental shift in Kabul politics recently has been the muddying of the waters during the presidential candidate nominations. Reuters

Graeme Smith

Consultant, Afghanistan
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

Consultant, 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

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
Statement / Asia

Crisis Group Welcomes the Afghanistan Ceasefire

International Crisis Group welcomes pledges by the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgency that both sides will respect a ceasefire over the Eid al Fitr holiday. If implemented, such a truce would be unprecedented and could represent a concrete step toward peace talks.

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.

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Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan