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

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. 

Continue reading

In The News

14 feb 2024
The more isolated the Taliban becomes, the more they turn to China to replace the diplomatic weight the US previously provided. Al Jazeera

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
2 feb 2024
Most regional capitals are not allowing the issue of non-recognition [of the Taliban] to hinder their relations with Kabul. TRT World

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
22 aug 2023
As Pakistan’s relations with the Taliban severed, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also gotten cold feet in their engagement [with the Taliban]. The Cradle

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
21 dec 2022
The flood of outrage from the West will strengthen the resolve of the Taliban leadership [in Afghanistan], which defines itself as a bulwark against the outside world. Reuters

Graeme Smith

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

Our People

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan

Graeme Smith

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
Graeme Smith

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.