CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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Asia

Afghanistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan engaged in sporadic clashes along disputed border, killing two soldiers, as Islamic State continued attacks and thousands in north east protested Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign.

Deadly border hostilities resumed between Pakistan and Taliban forces. Pakistani aircraft 10 May conducted strikes inside Afghanistan, killing at least four suspected Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants. As Pakistani forces 13 May tried to fortify positions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kurram district, clashes erupted with Taliban forces, which lasted six days and killed at least one Pakistani soldier and Taliban forces member; sides 18 May agreed to ceasefire reportedly negotiated by tribal elders. Notably, Taliban rocket 15 May struck Pakistani border post, causing aforementioned fatality. Tensions with Afghanistan could escalate further if another major militant attack within Pakistan is traced back to Afghan havens (see Pakistan).

Islamic State targeted Taliban and foreigners. Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) 8 May claimed bomb attack in Faizabad city, Badakhshan province (north east). ISKP gunman 18 May shot at two buses carrying foreign tourists in Bamiyan province (centre), killing three Spanish nationals and injuring others. ISKP militants 20 May hurled grenade at bus carrying Taliban members in Kandahar (south), killing at least four. 

Thousands protested in north east against Taliban. In Badakhshan province, local residents early May staged protests against Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign in province. Taliban security forces 3-13 May killed several, prompting thousands in region, namely Argo and Darayim districts, to hold protests to demand halt to eradication effort, livelihood support for poppy farmers and compensation for eradicated crops as well as slain protestors; senior Taliban delegation visited region, reportedly agreeing to compensate families of victims but insisting eradication efforts will persist unabated. Authorities mid-May deployed reinforcements to region and resumed destruction of opium fields.

Taliban continued to clamp down on independent media. Taliban authorities 8 May attempted to restrict reporting by Afghanistan International – overseas-based media channel that emerged immediately after Taliban’s takeover and became most-viewed media outlet inside Afghanistan – by ordering Afghan journalists to stop all forms of collaboration with outlet. 

Asia

Afghanistan

Islamic State’s local branch continued attacks, Taliban authorities restricted space for political activism, and tensions with Pakistan persisted amid concern over new wave of deportations. 

Islamic State’s local branch targeted minority groups and Taliban. Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) claimed explosion of fuel tankers in capital Kabul on 9 April. Taliban forces 11 April reportedly killed two IS-KP members, arrested third, in Sawkay district, Kunar province (east). IS-KP 21 April claimed magnetic IED attack targeting bus carrying mostly Hazara civilians near security checkpoint in Kabul. IS-KP 30 April killed six worshippers at Shiite mosque in Guzara district, Herat province (west). Possible IS-KP gunmen 19 April killed senior Taliban figure and close advisor to Emir, Sheikh Omar Jan Akhundzada, in mosque in Pakistan’s Quetta city. 

Taliban authorities intensified crackdown on Islamist and social groups. After Taliban late March forced leader of Hizb-e Islami Hekmatyar – one of few prominent non-Taliban politicians to stay in country following Taliban takeover – to vacate his Kabul compound, son of leader 2 April claimed Taliban was protecting and supporting Al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan. Ministry of Justice 7 April referred two political parties and 76 social and charitable institutions to security authorities for alleged illegal activism. Following months of pressure to stifle activities by Hizb ut-Tahrir – primarily consisting of young, urban and educated Salafist-leaning Islamists – Taliban 18 April reportedly arrested group’s spokesman. Ministry of Information and Culture 16 April announced shuttering of two television stations owned by Islamist groups Hizb-e Islami and Jamiat-e Islami. 

Tensions between Taliban authorities and Pakistan persisted. Following cross-border hostilities in March, Taliban 30 March claimed U.S. drones flew inside Afghan airspace in south west, allegedly entering from neighbouring countries; Taliban previously accused Pakistan of permitting U.S. drones to enter Afghanistan. Anticipation grew over Pakistan’s announced intention to initiate Phase Two of the Illegal Foreigners’ Repatriation Plan, launched in Nov 2023 to forcibly deport millions of Afghans in country; Phase One deported around 500,000, while Phase Two could target some 800,000 Afghan Citizen Card holders or 1.3m with Proof of Residence. Such moves could further fuel tensions between two countries. 

Asia

Afghanistan

Taliban and Pakistan engaged in first serious military confrontation as Islamabad launched cross-border strikes in response to deadly militant attack, prompting Taliban heavy fire. 

Pakistan launched airstrikes, raising risk of armed conflict with Taliban. Amid mounting tensions between Islamabad and Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, six militants 16 March rammed explosive-laden vehicle into military checkpoint in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhthunkwa province before conducting suicide bombings, killing seven soldiers (see Pakistan); Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Hafiz Gul Bahadur affiliate claimed responsibility. Blaming Taliban for arming and hosting militants and “being involved in incidents of terrorism”, Pakistan 18 March launched retaliatory airstrikes, claiming targets were TTP groups in Afghanistan’s Paktika and Khost provinces (east); strikes marked first time Pakistan has acknowledged carrying out attack on Afghan territory since Taliban takeover in 2021 (previously suspected cross-border attacks as in April 2022 were unclaimed). Taliban forces same day retaliated by firing heavy weaponry into Pakistan’s Kurram district, killing Pakistani captain. While relative calm late March returned to border, risk of resumption of hostilities remained high, particularly if TTP launches another major attack in Pakistan; statements by Pakistani officials vowing to deport Afghan citizen card holders from 15 April also bode ill for bilateral relations.

Resistance groups and Islamic State staged attacks. After National Resistance Front (NRF) 26 Feb reportedly fired rockets at Kabul airport, allegedly targeting Taliban military installation, group continued its attacks, including ambush 27 March on Taliban checkpoint in capital Kabul in which NRF claimed three Taliban members were killed. Afghanistan Freedom Front 11 March declared month-long Ramadan ceasefire. In Kandahar city (south), Islamic State’s local branch (ISKP) 21 March claimed explosion inside bank allegedly targeting Taliban members, killing three by Taliban estimates and as many as 21 according to BBC; Taliban-affiliated media reported attacker underwent training in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, which it claimed had become key staging ground for ISKP. Suspected ISKP terror attack in Russian capital Moscow 22 March killed scores (see Russia). 

In another important development. Uzbekistan’s FM Bakhtiar Saidov 12 March met senior Taliban in capital Kabul to discuss trade; Taliban media suggested Uzbekistan may soon accept Taliban ambassador (see Uzbekistan). 

Asia

Afghanistan

UN reconsidered political process after failure of Sec-Gen’s meeting in Qatar that exposed international divisions, while World Bank resumed development funding after long pause. 

UN convened international actors to discuss how to engage with Afghanistan. UN Sec Gen Antonio Guterres 18 Feb convened meeting in Qatari capital Doha to discuss path forward following UN Security Council resolution 2721 (2023), which called for appointment of UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan. Taliban boycotted meeting after UN rejected its demand to attend as sole representatives of Afghanistan; opposition groups – including National Resistance Front, Afghan Freedom Front and others – had prior to meeting issued joint statement contesting Taliban’s claim to be legitimate govt. Doha meeting disappointed UN officials who had hoped to draw Taliban into high-level talks, and exposed widening gap between regional and Western actors, with most regional states seeking to forge ahead with closer engagement as Western states hope to alter Taliban behaviour through isolation; Guterres said that more work is required on political process “in order to make it attractive from the point of view of the Taliban.” 

World Bank restarted projects in major strep, amid regional economic coordination. In significant move, World Bank 15 Feb announced “Approach 3.0”, which will provide support for basic services and economic revival; package allows for resumption of Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000), $1.2bn project to bring electricity from Central Asia to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Underlining growing economic coordination with regional actors, Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoub 1 Feb also met Uzbekistan’s chief of intelligence to discuss border issues and implementation of development projects, and FM Amir Khan Muttaqi 25 Feb visited Turkmenistan to discuss economic activities. Meanwhile, energy authority 6 Feb announced it had paid off all loans, totalling $627mn, and prepaid future electricity imports. Deputy PM Salam Hanafi 15 Feb asserted govt was paying salaries to some 1.2mn public servants. 

In another important development. UN Sanctions Monitoring Team 29 Jan assessed Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) retained capacity to conduct external operations. Still, ISKP related fatalities remained at historic lows.

Asia

Afghanistan

Islamic State’s local branch launched multiple attacks across country and in neighbouring Iran, while Taliban authorities made first arrest under draconian 2022 decree on women’s dress. 

After short pause, Islamic State resumed deadly attacks. In its first attack of 2024 following pause since mid Nov 2023, Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-KP) 4 Jan beheaded Taliban member in Kunar province (north east). IS-KP 6 Jan conducted explosive strike in capital Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi district, which killed two and injured over a dozen. Suicide explosion 14 Jan rocked office of provincial governor in Nimruz province (south west), killing three security guards; although unclaimed, it also bore hallmarks of IS-KP. Relatedly, IS-KP claimed twin bombings in Iran’s Kerman city that killed scores (see Iran). 

Taliban enforced conservative dress rules on women. Reports 2 Jan surfaced that Taliban authorities had arrested women in Kabul for violating religious hijab-wearing rules, marking first reported arrest for such violation since May 2022 decree enforcing rules; Taliban officials claimed women were detained and released on bail after male relatives had been informed. Meanwhile, crackdown on political space continued: reports indicated that Taliban authorities had arrested over dozen Hizb-ut-Tahrir members in Takhar province (north) as part of broader crackdown on group. 

Pakistan and Afghanistan took steps to repair ties, but bilateral tensions remained. Acting Deputy Defence Minister Shirin Akhund 3 Jan visited Pakistan for meetings with senior Pakistani officials. Pakistani politician Fazal-ur-Rehman 7 Jan visited Kabul; unconfirmed reports claimed Rehman was granted audience with Taliban emir, making him only the second foreign dignitary to meet Taliban leader in recent years. Talks followed months of tension between two countries over anti-Pakistan militants growing active in borderlands, but issue remains unresolved. 

Norway and UK engaged diplomatically with Taliban. Norway’s Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan Paul Klouman Bekken 9 Jan met Taliban’s Deputy FM for Political Affairs Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai. UK’s Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan Robert Dickson 12 Jan met Stanekzai; Dickson stated bilateral “engagement will be further enhanced in the future”.

Asia

Afghanistan

Taliban continued crackdown on Islamic State’s local branch as armed opposition groups raised political profile abroad, while tensions persisted between Taliban and Pakistan.

Anti-Taliban groups continued armed and political activities. Taliban security forces 8 Dec targeted Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) cell in Herat province (west) and neighbouring Nimroz province (south west). While attacks by ISKP have reduced in recent months, Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF) has emerged as one of most active armed opposition groups inside Afghanistan: group 24 Nov claimed attack against Taliban in Bagram district of Parwan province (north east). Although no attacks were attributed to National Resistance Front (NRF), group’s leader participated in conference organised in Russian capital Moscow, marking first time Russia has invited anti-Taliban groups to publicly held conference; NRF also held event in Austrian capital Vienna in early Dec, where it presented its roadmap for new Afghanistan, after group’s spokesman 28 Nov attended Herat Security Dialogue in Tajikistan capital Dushanbe. Increased international activity by armed opposition groups suggest level of international frustration with de facto authorities’ refusal to meet external demands.

Relations with Pakistan continued to exhibit strains. Militants 12 Dec conducted major attack in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing 23 soldiers (see Pakistan); hours later, Pakistani FM Jalil Abbas Jilani delivered strong demarche to Afghan chargé d’affaires, calling for Kabul to take verifiable action against perpetrators.

In other important developments. Taliban’s FM Amir Khan Muttaqi 16 Dec met with Turkmenistan FM Rasit Meredow at Torghundi border crossing of Herat province, marking first such high-level interaction between Taliban and Turkmenistan. U.S. Department of Treasury 8 Dec imposed sanctions on two Taliban officials, Fariduddin Mahmoud and Muhammad Khalid Hanafi, allegedly for their role in restrictions on women; Taliban criticised move, pointing to U.S.’ opposition to Security Council resolutions on Gaza as evidence of country’s duplicitous approach to human rights.

Asia

Afghanistan

Tensions mounted between Taliban and Pakistan as Islamabad forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of Afghans, while Islamic State’s local branch targeted ethnic minority Hazara community.

Tensions continued to rise with Pakistan amid Afghan exodus. Relations between Kabul and Islamabad continued to face strains as pair traded public criticism and Pakistan forcibly deported hundreds of thousands – and perhaps soon millions – of Afghans to Afghanistan ahead of harsh winter months, which could overwhelm Taliban authorities ill-prepared for massive influx amid one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises and as country reels from devastating earthquakes, economic challenges and sanctions. Some of those forced by Pakistan to cross border fled Taliban rule after group’s takeover in August 2021 and could risk Taliban reprisals (see Pakistan). After Pakistan’s caretaker PM stated that relations will improve when “a legitimate government is established in Kabul”, Taliban 17 Nov responded that ties will improve when “there is wise leadership in Pakistan”. Taliban-affiliated media during month continued to imply that Pakistan is supporting anti-Taliban armed groups inside Afghanistan.

Islamic State targeted ethnic minority Hazaras. Reeling from losses inflicted by security forces in recent months, Islamic State Khorsan Province (ISKP) maintained low-level activity, opting to target unarmed Hazara civilians whom group sees as soft target. Notably, ISKP 7 Nov targeted van in the Hazara enclave of Dasht-e Barchi in western neighbourhoods of Kabul, killing at least seven and wounding over dozen. Taliban intelligence forces 6 Nov reportedly targeted ISKP cell in Suki district, Kunar province (east).

Taliban convened high-level meeting to address economy and Pakistan ties. Taliban’s Emir 19 Nov held meeting with de facto cabinet in Kandahar city, which appeared to be primarily concerned with economic direction of govt as well as deteriorating relations with Pakistan; although exact details are unknown, such meetings are significant as key govt policies are often decided.

Asia

Afghanistan

Islamic State staged deadly attacks in north and capital Kabul, defying Taliban crackdown, while earthquakes in west compounded suffering and Taliban wrestled for control of embassies.

Islamic State’s local branch conducted attacks despite ongoing Taliban raids. After Taliban security forces early Sept dismantled Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) cell, Taliban-affiliated media Al Mirsad 3 Oct published confessions from the cell, which is purportedly responsible for some of largest attacks in Badakhshan province (north). Dismantling this network will likely represent blow to ISKP’s strong presence in Badakhshan, although group remains active and capable of attacks. Notably, in one of its largest attacks in months, ISKP 13 Oct assaulted mosque in Baghlan province (north), killing around seventeen Shia worshippers. ISKP claimed bomb attack 26 Oct in Kabul that killed at least four in sports club in Shia area.

Earthquakes and aftershocks in west aggravated humanitarian crisis. Powerful earthquake 7 Oct struck Herat province (west), levelling entire villages before series of shallow earthquakes and aftershocks in subsequent weeks hit region, killing over 2,000 people and destroying 2,500 homes. While humanitarian actors quickly provided $18mn in assistance, many affected communities are likely to remain in desperate need as winter fast approaches.

Taliban reportedly clamped down on anti-Pakistan militants and rival group. Following deadly militant attacks in Pakistan in Sept, reports emerged that Afghan security forces arrested hundreds of Pakistani militants and Afghan nationals involved in activities against Pakistan. Taliban forces reportedly also began clampdown on rival group Hizb ut-Tahrir countrywide, arresting dozens of members in multiple provinces.

Taliban intensified efforts to rein in Afghan embassies abroad. Afghan embassy in India 1 Oct stated it would be shutting down operations amid reports of infighting among embassy staff, pressure from Indian govt, and attempts by Taliban to takeover. In subsequent days, Afghan embassies in Netherlands and Spain announced their cooperation with de facto govt. Taliban-run foreign ministry 8 Oct issued notice advising services by Afghan embassies in London and Vienna were invalid; both posts have been most critical of Taliban govt; London embassy rejected notice.

Asia

Afghanistan

Tensions mounted between Taliban and Pakistan over Pakistani Taliban attacks and deadly border clashes, while de facto authorities tightened harsh governance policies.

Taliban and Pakistan traded barbs and clashed at border. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 6 Sept launched major offensive in Chitral district in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, leaving four soldiers and dozen militants dead (see Pakistan); Islamabad issued demarche to Taliban authorities, claiming militants directed operation from Afghan soil and demanded Kabul stop the attacks. Pakistani and Taliban border forces same day clashed at Torkham border crossing, killing at least two Taliban soldiers, wounding several others and forcing crossing’s closure for nine days. Reports 18 Sept emerged Afghan authorities were constructing over 100 new border posts in Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar provinces purportedly aimed at preventing TTP cross-border movement.

Humanitarian appeal faced chronic under-funding. Ongoing humanitarian crisis continued to suffer funding shortages, prompting further cuts in humanitarian programs and external interventions. Notably, World Food Programme 5 Sept announced it cut rations to two million Afghans due to funding shortages; to plug gaps, Asian Development Bank 21 Sept announced $400mn grant and EU 20 Sept announced €140mn. Afghanistan’s economy continued to remain vulnerable and aid-dependent, albeit there are signs it might be faring slightly better than in past.

Taliban continued to restrict women’s rights and political space. Authorities late Aug prohibited women from visiting Band-e-Amir national park – well-frequented tourist spot – marking latest restriction on women’s social rights. De facto authorities in Sept continued to restrict political and civil space: by mid-Sept, reports emerged that Ministry of Justice had closed provincial offices of Hizb-e-Islami party and were taking similar actions against other political parties, including Hizb-ul-Tahrir. UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 20 Sept published report outlining human rights abuses against detainees, including excessive force and mistreatment during and after arrests.

In other important developments. Newly-appointed Chinese ambassador in Kabul 13 Sept presented credentials to de facto govt, signalling Beijing’s intent to explore avenues for normalisation with Kabul that might prompt regional countries to follow suit. Indications mid-Sept surfaced that security forces arrested major ISKP cell in Badakhshan province (northeast).

Asia

Afghanistan

On second anniversary of Taliban’s return to power, countrywide violence remained at historic low but worsening humanitarian crisis loomed large and tensions persisted with Pakistan.

Violence remained at low ebb despite sporadic attacks and Taliban raids. Afghanistan Freedom Front launched attacks on airport in Badakhshan province (north) 9 Aug and in Baghlan province (north) 11 Aug. Reports 19 Aug emerged that Taliban had besieged and dismantled last remnants of rebels in Badakhshan’s Shuhada district, likely referring to renegade Taliban commander who rebelled in Oct 2022; although surrender removes major threat of armed challenge to Taliban’s rule in Badakhshan, insecurity in province – which borders China, Tajikistan, and Pakistan – remains major concern. Meanwhile, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) did not claim major attack in Aug. Taliban-affiliated media 15 Aug claimed security forces’ raid killed two important ISKP members. Fanning fears of transnational jihadist threats, gunman who 13 Aug conducted attack in Iran was Tajik national allegedly trained by ISKP in Afghanistan.

Threat of worsening humanitarian crisis persisted. Humanitarian appeal remained drastically underfunded by 75%, making it most underfunded UN humanitarian program. UN humanitarian coordinator 17 Aug warned that “massive funding cuts are forcing life-saving programs to close at an alarming rate”, with 29.2mn Afghans in need of assistance. U.S. diplomats and Taliban officials late July met for first time since Taliban retook power; despite meeting, impasse over Central Bank’s frozen assets remained unresolved.

Taliban and Pakistan traded barbs over militant threat. Pakistan’s foreign ministry 1 Aug and army chief 7 Aug alleged that Afghan nationals had been involved in July attack in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province; Taliban called allegations baseless, countering that dozens of Pakistani nationals had joined ISKP and Pakistan failed to act on intelligence shared by Kabul. Taliban 11 Aug confirmed that preeminent body for religious edicts had issued fatwa prohibiting Afghans from fighting Pakistan. Reports 14 Aug emerged of blast near hotel in Khost city (south east) that housed refugees from Pakistan’s Waziristan district; reports suggested Pakistani drones targeted site. Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani 20, 23 Aug stated attacks inside Pakistan were country’s own internal problem.

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