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CrisisWatch Afghanistan

Unchanged Situation

Taliban imposed further restrictions on women’s rights, opposition stepped up deadly attacks in north, and authorities engaged in regional de-escalation initiatives. After March decision banning girls’ access to secondary schools, govt 7 May announced new restrictions with “hijab” ruling requiring face veil for women when in vicinity of non-family male members; move immediately prompted Western condemnation, further complicating aid efforts. Some govt officials suggested ruling was necessary to appease hardliners, while Minister of Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani 17 May stated girls’ secondary education will resume shortly without stipulating timeline. Leaked decree 16 May also suggested govt had dissolved multiple commissions, including Independent Human Rights Commission. Meanwhile, UN 13 May warned that it will have to reduce number of Afghans it is helping from 38% to 8% due to lack of funding; UN human rights rapporteur in Afghanistan 14 May conducted visit to country 15-26 May, expressed concerns about “serious human rights challenges”, including severe restriction on women’s freedoms. Opposition continued to launch stepped-up attacks in north. Notably, violence early May rose in Panjshir province after video surfaced on social media of Taliban fighters dancing near mausoleum of senior resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud during Eid celebrations 1-2 May. While Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid 5 May distanced govt from these actions, by next day rumours had emerged of serious fighting between National Resistance Front (NRF) fighters and Taliban in Takhar, Panjshir, Badakhshan and Baghlan provinces. Govt initially denied reports, but over coming days sent significant reinforcements to north and began claiming victories over rebels. Recent fighting reinvigorated opposition, with High Resistance Council for Saving Afghanistan holding gathering condemning Taliban injustices and calling fighting in north “legitimate” without explicitly endorsing NRF. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) continued attacks during month; notably, ISKP 8 May reportedly fired Katyusha rockets into Tajikistan. Regionally, tensions with neighbours eased somewhat. Pakistan 18 May participated in Taliban-hosted talks with Pakistan Taliban group (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, TTP) (see Pakistan); Iran 12 May hosted Taliban delegation following another round of border clashes prompted by videos purporting to show mistreatment of Afghan refugees and Afghan immigrant stabbing three Iranian clerics in Mashhad city.

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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

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan