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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

Intra-Taliban debate over social policies continued, World Bank announced new economic projects, and fighting between Taliban and opposition groups persisted. Video 6 June surfaced showing Kabul governor stating current situation regarding women is not acceptable and urged ministry for promotion of virtue and prevention of vice to implement decrees in capital. Deputy FM Abbas Stanikzai 19 June criticised govt’s decision not to reopen girls’ secondary schools. Meanwhile, World Bank 3 June approved three projects totaling $793mn to support essential food, livelihood and health services for Afghans. Taliban govt continued measures in attempt to resuscitate economy, including launching “Afghan Invest” enterprise mid-month and hosting trade show for female entrepreneurs in Kabul 9 June. Media reports early month indicated country’s exports to Pakistan have increased during financial year, from $550mn last year to more than $700mn. Groups opposing Taliban rule continued attacks. Fighting between National Resistance Front (NRF) fighters and Taliban security personnel persisted in Andarab district in Baghlan province (north) and Panjshir province (north). Notably, NRF fighters 17 June downed helicopter operated by Taliban and captured four prisoners in Panjshir. NGO Human Rights Watch 10 June accused Taliban security forces of war crimes in Panjshir, claims which UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett tentatively endorsed same day; NGO Amnesty International 16 June accused Taliban of “torture, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrest of civilians” in Panjshir. Standoff persisted between Maulawi Mehdi, Shia Hazara Taliban commander, and Taliban security personnel in Balkhab District in Sar-e Pol province (north), raising prospect of first instance of significant intra-Taliban clashes; central authorities removed Mehdi as local intelligence chief in Nov 2021. Taliban forces 28 June launched attack on Balkhab district, capturing district capital following day; residual fighting likely in coming days. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) 18 June claimed attack on Sikh temple in Kabul, killing at least two people and injuring seven; group said attack was retaliation for derogatory comments made by India’s ruling party (see India).

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
4 Nov 2021
If we do nothing, Afghanistan drifts into state collapse. The economic chokehold is squeezing the air out of the economy. Christian Science Monitor

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

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.

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.

Also available in دری, پښتو
Podcast / Asia

Western Policy and Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Devastation

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood and Naz Modirazadeh talk to Crisis Group Consultant Graeme Smith about Afghanistan and what can be done to prevent millions from falling into famine as winter approaches.

Afghanistan 2001-2021: U.S. Policy Lessons Learned

In a 17 November 2021 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director Laurel Miller outlined five lessons learned from twenty years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and suggested some steps Washington can take in reformulating its Afghanistan policy.

Our People

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
smithkabul

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan