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Afghanistan

In mid-August 2021, Taliban militants swept into Kabul, completing their takeover of Afghanistan and marking a new phase in what has been the world’s most lethal conflict in recent years. The U.S.-backed government in place since 2001 is gone, as are almost all U.S. and NATO troops. As the new dispensation takes shape, Crisis Group remains focused on promoting a deep understanding of events on the ground and helping the various stakeholders inside and outside the country comprehend their counterparts' motives and political constraints. We also aim to advance policies that improve security and promote inclusive governance.

CrisisWatch Afghanistan

Unchanged Situation

UN voiced concerns over human rights under Taliban’s governance, while Taliban continued to battle Islamic State Khorasan Province and Northern Resistance Front. UN Human Rights Council 1 July began session discussing human rights of women and girls in country and adopted resolution reaffirming commitment to rights, including education and free movement. In report on human rights, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 19 July reported “erosion of women’s rights has been one of the most notable aspects of the de facto administration to date”. In attempt to garner domestic legitimacy, Taliban authorities organised gathering of nearly 4,500 scholars and community leaders; participants 2 July pledged allegiance to Taliban Emir, denounced rebellion against govt, and called on international community to recognise Taliban govt. On economic front, hardship continued. Local media reports 18 July indicated some 170,000 retired civil servants are yet to receive pensions. Senior Pakistani trade delegation 20 July visited Kabul to discuss continuation of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. De facto govt during month sought to reopen women-led businesses, notably in capital Kabul (east), Jowzjan (north), Balkh (north), Herat (west) and Kandahar (south). Meanwhile, Taliban launched raids against Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP): notably, security forces 16 July raided ISKP hideout in Kunduz city (north), allegedly against cell responsible for recent cross-border attacks into Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; 19 July launched raid in Samangan province (north), where they killed ISKP members allegedly responsible for beheading of Taliban fighter on 14 July; 20 July allegedly captured three foreign fighters in Kabul. NGO Human Rights Watch 7 July accused de facto authorities of committing war crimes in their fight against ISKP. UN Sanctions Monitoring Team 19 July reported that al-Qaeda in country does not pose major international threat for now due to lack of capacity and need to stay on good terms with Taliban. Fighting in north also continued between Taliban and Northern Resistance Front (NRF). NRF 7 July purportedly captured Taliban military base in Baghlan province. Taliban mid-July launched offensive against NRF in Baghlan’s Andarab region. NRF leader Ahmad Massoud 12 July claimed NRF had 3,000 armed fighters.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

5 Jul 2022
[The Taliban in Afghanistan] focus on consolidating power by monopolizing resources, squashing perceived threats, and preempting future threats. Foreign Policy

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
9 May 2022
The whole world is trying to scramble for limited supplies and Afghanistan will be one of the least able to compete. NPR

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
5 May 2022
Clerics [in Afghanistan] are coming out and issuing statements and saying girls' education is a right. NPR

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
26 Apr 2022
For now, the Taliban [in Afghanistan] are completely opposed to having an election-based Emirate. The Diplomat

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
3 Mar 2022
When it comes to military and policing tactics, the Taliban has been observing and learning from their erstwhile enemy over the past 20 years. Now they are imitating many of those tactics to consolidate control. The New York Times

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
13 Dec 2021
History shows that ignoring Afghanistan allows problems to fester and grow. Migration, terrorism, drugs: all of these issues could destabilize the region and spill over into Europe. The Wall Street Jounral

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

Afghanistan: The Humanitarian Crisis and U.S. Response

In a 9 February 2022 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Crisis Group’s Senior Afghanistan Consultant Graeme Smith outlined two long-term ways the U.S. can mitigate Afghanistan’s humanitarian and economic crises in the aftermath of war and subsequent Taliban takeover.

Event Recording / Global

EU Watch List: 10 Cases Where the EU can Build Peace in 2022 (Online Event, 28th January 2022)

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.

Q&A / Asia

Toward a New Mandate for the UN Mission in Afghanistan

The UN mission in Afghanistan will soon be up for renewal. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Ashish Pradhan and Graeme Smith discuss how the UN Security Council could update its list of responsibilities with the Taliban back in charge.

Commentary / Asia

Stopping State Failure in Afghanistan

The extension of Taliban-specific sanctions to the entire Afghan state is a primary cause of the Afghan economy’s freefall and has compounded the country’s humanitarian crisis. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to adopt alternative mechanisms for more targeted sanctions and help restore central banking functions to enable the revival of economic activity.

Report / Asia

Beyond Emergency Relief: Averting Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Catastrophe

International donors cut off all but emergency aid to Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover in August. Months later, the state is collapsing and a humanitarian disaster is looming. Donors should work with the state to restore basic public services and mitigate the population’s suffering.

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Our People

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
smithkabul

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan