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CrisisWatch Afghanistan

Unchanged Situation

Resolution Opportunity

Month saw deadly attacks on both sides; Taliban’s ceasefire and govt’s release of prisoners in later part of month raised prospects intra-Afghan peace process could start in Aug. Despite international expectations intra-Afghan dialogue could begin in July, peace process remained on hold for most of month with attacks on both sides and delays in further govt release of prisoners. Taliban intensified attacks on major highways in north, including assault along Kabul to Mazar-e Sharif highway in Sar-e Pul province 7-14 July and clashes on Shibergan-to Mazar highway in Jawzjan province and Kabul-Kunduz highway in Baghlan province (north). While Taliban continued to refrain from attacks on large cities, some major attacks took place. Notably, Taliban 13 July bombed govt intelligence agency in Aybak, capital of Samangan province (north), killing ten and injuring over 50, in first high-profile Taliban-claimed attack on provincial capital since Feb U.S.-Taliban agreement; also launched 13-17 July series of suicide vehicles bombings in Kandahar (south) and Wardak (centre) provinces, with group justifying attacks as “retaliations” for violations of agreement by govt forces, blaming U.S. for not preventing govt attacks. Meanwhile, govt increased airstrikes against suspected Taliban targets with reported high civilian toll; govt air raids 22 July reportedly killed some 45 people, including civilians, in Kham Zaiarat area, Herat province (west); U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalizad next day condemned airstrikes as well as “recent Taliban attacks”, urging “all sides to contain the violence”. Taliban 18 July reshuffled negotiating team and restructured political office in Doha ahead of future talks, incorporating figures from differing wings of movement. Domestic political stasis continued despite President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah’s May agreement to form inclusive govt; Ghani 18 July reappointed hardline interior and defence ministers who hold tough stance toward Taliban; many provincial governors and ministerial positions remained unfilled. In major step forward and following U.S. pressure, Taliban 28 July announced second three-day ceasefire for Eid holiday and govt responded, declaring final hundreds prisoners of total 5,000 to be released, raising prospect intra-Afghan dialogue could begin in August.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

3 Aug 2020
In order to establish greater trust during intra-Afghan negotiations, both sides should quickly discuss practical measures that can be taken to combat the violence of spoiler groups. Voice of America

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
24 Mar 2020
Huge slashes of aid would mean the U.S. is no longer seeing the [Afghan] government’s survival as necessary to protect U.S. interests. New York Times

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
21 Mar 2020
Attacks like [in Qalat] were precisely why the US has attempted to fast-track intra-Afghan talks: the faster both sides reach the table, the faster conditions can be laid for lasting reductions in violence. The National

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
9 Mar 2020
Not only will this almost certainly delay the intra-Afghan talks, but complications are very likely to follow from this political standoff [between Ghani and Abdullah]. Al Jazeera

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
4 Mar 2020
[The U.S. air strike against the Taliban] is significant. I don’t think it signals the collapse of the whole U.S.-Taliban agreement...[but] you can easily see how things could spiral. Reuters

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
2 Mar 2020
[The prisoner swap requirement has the] potential to bloom into a real obstacle before intra-Afghan talks even get off the ground. Vox

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

Video / Asia

Afghan Women and Peace with the Taliban

Crisis Group talks with Shaharzad Akbar, Head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Video / Asia

Kandahar: Taliban Approaches to Peace

Graeme Smith tells about his travels to Afghanistan as a Crisis Group's expert and about the efforts to get the Taliban to elaborate on their demands for the peace process.

Briefing Note / Asia

What Will Happen if the U.S. Military Pulls Out of Afghanistan Without a Peace Deal?

This is the first in a series of three Briefing Notes that discuss and analyse the nascent peace process in Afghanistan while focusing on frequently raised questions.

Video / Asia

Kandahar: Death Toll Rising

Graeme Smith, Crisis Group’s former Afghanistan Senior Analyst, underscores in this film from the main morgue in the city of Kandahar the continuing and shocking rise of the human toll in what is one of the world’s most-deadly conflicts.

Prospects for Peace: The Way Forward in Afghanistan

In this testimony delivered to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Crisis Group's Asia Program Director Laurel Miller analyses the 29 February U.S.-Taliban agreement, assessing its implications for both the U.S. military presence and the larger peace process in Afghanistan.

Our People

Borhan Osman

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan