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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

Amid worsening economic situation, Taliban continued to consolidate power despite ongoing small-scale security threats from Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and clashes with National Resistance Front. Taliban head Emir Hibatullah Akhundzada 7 Nov decreed major reshuffle in Taliban’s provincial structure, announcing 44 new personnel, including 17 governors; reshuffle seeks to limit commanders from developing local powerbases while promoting loyalists and demoting unruly commanders. Overall economic situation continued to deteriorate, but Taliban’s finances improved as it 16 Nov auctioned $2.1 mn after initially announcing it would auction $10 mn; group 20 Nov announced it would resume some salary payments to govt employees and retired civil servants. Meanwhile, ISIS-K attacks focused on Taliban security personnel and ethnic minority Hazaras. Notably, ISIS-K 2 Nov attacked Sardar Daud Khan Military Hospital in capital Kabul, killing dozens, including Taliban’s commander for Kabul’s military corps, Maulawi Hambdullah Mukhlis. UN Envoy to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons 19 Nov said ISIS-K is now active in all provinces of country. In response, Taliban cracked down on ISIS-K suspects, resulting in disappearances and extrajudicial killings throughout country; Taliban 10 Nov claimed to have arrested 600 ISIS-K suspects. Meanwhile, reports of fighting between National Resistance Front and Taliban continued throughout month in northern Parwan, Panjshir and Baghlan provinces. Regional diplomatic activities focused on alleviating worsening economic and humanitarian situation. Taliban delegation led by FM Amir Khan Muttaqi 10 Nov met with members of Troika Plus (Pakistan, Russia, China, U.S.) in Pakistan; Troika Plus agreed to ease banking restrictions on govt. India same day chaired regional security dialogue on Afghanistan with seven neighbouring countries. Reports 4 Nov emerged that Taliban facilitated covert talks between Pakistani Taliban and Pakistan (see Pakistan). Taliban and U.S. officials 29-30 Nov held talks in Qatar’s capital Doha to discuss wide range of issues.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
5 Sep 2021
The US and other Western countries welcome Qatari mediation because of their [own] limited interactions with the Taliban [in Afghanistan]. France 24

Dina Esfandiary

Senior Advisor, Middle East and North Africa
24 Aug 2021
An economic collapse [in Afghanistan] would lead to exactly the outcomes the Europeans fear most: more violence and more refugees. The Economist

Richard Gowan

UN Director
14 Aug 2021
What we’re seeing is a tsunami of individual decisions to abandon the Afghan government, and all of those individual decisions have added up to a collapse. Washington Post

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
9 Aug 2021
After August 31, I fear the war [in Afghanistan] could carry on as intensely or even more than it has the past three months. Bloomberg

Andrew Watkins

Former Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
9 Aug 2021
The Taliban [in Afghanistan], I think, would prefer to have legitimacy and financial assistance from the international community. But their number one preference is gaining power. AFP

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Asia

Afghanistan: What needs to happen now? (Online Event, 2nd November 2021)

This virtual event on Afghanistan explores what the future looks like for Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

The Migration Lessons of Afghanistan and Syria

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to Liz Collett, one of Europe's leading voices on migration, about whether Kabul’s fall could trigger another refugee crisis and how the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are shaping the future of global mobility.

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2021 – Autumn Update

Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2021. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Autumn Update of the Watch List 2021 includes entries on Afghanistan, Burundi, Iran, Nagorno-Karabakh and Nicaragua.

Event Recording / Asia

How will the Taliban Victory Impact Other Conflicts Involving Jihadist Militants? (Online Event)

Could the seizure of Afghanistan by the Taliban just before the twentieth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks be a turning point for jihadist militancy worldwide? (Online Event, 28th September 2021)

Our People

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
smithkabul

Ibraheem Bahiss

Consultant, Afghanistan