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Afghanistan

CrisisWatch Afghanistan

Deteriorated Situation

Taliban sustained major offensive, gaining additional district centres and killing over 500 Afghan security forces; deadly terror attacks targeted minority Hazara community. Taliban forced govt troops, police and militia to retreat from more than 50 districts, most in north and north east, throughout month; while Taliban often declined to occupy space, gains constitute significant loss in govt’s territorial standing, revealing structural weaknesses in Afghan security forces. Taliban 21 June also seized control of main border crossing with Tajikistan. In series of attacks, Taliban 2 June killed 40 govt forces in border area of Nangarhar (east); 4 June killed 11 security forces in Herat province (west); 5 June killed 26 security forces in Badakhshan (north east) and Badghis (north west); 9 June killed 21 soldiers in Badakhshan and Nimroz provinces (south west); 12 June killed 20 security forces in Ghor province (centre). Taliban 6 June also killed 17 security forces in truck bombing in Balkh province (north), and same day killed 28 security forces in another car bombing in Faryab province (north). In coming months, potential for Taliban to overrun provincial capitals is high. Meanwhile, a more organic form of popular resistance to Taliban emerged in several provinces, including Baghlan, Takhar and Badakhshan. Deadly terror attacks targeting ethnic Hazara minority persisted. In capital Kabul, bombings against civilians 1 and 3 June killed at least 14 and wounded 17 more in Hazara neighbourhoods. Unknown armed men 8 June attacked staff of international charity clearing land mines and attempted to single out Hazara employees, killing ten and injuring 16 in Baghlan Province (north). Additional attack on humanitarians 15 June killed at least five polio vaccinators in Nangarhar province (east). President Ghani 20 June announced replacement of army chief of staff, defence minister and interior minister amid rising casualties in Afghan security forces. Ghani, Vice President Saleh, top advisers and chief rival Abdullah 24-25 June visited U.S. capital Washington, met with U.S. President Biden and top U.S. officials to reaffirm commitments to fund and support Afghan govt and security forces.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

26 Jul 2021
There was this idea that if you put a lot of resources into [Afghanistan] and a lot of willpower very quickly, that you can make what we otherwise know are long-term generational developments happen on some kind of speedy timeline that fits American policy priorities. And the world doesn't work that way. NPR

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
16 Jul 2021
My sense is that the Taliban [in Afghanistan] still prefer a political path, albeit one that for all purposes would be a capitulation. AFP

Ibraheem Bahiss

Consultant, Afghanistan
15 Jul 2021
You see a sense of surprise and alarmed reaction from regional powers to the speed of the Taliban advance, but the counterpoint is a lot them saw the writing on the wall as early as [Barack] Obama’s announcement that the US was going to draw down and withdraw nearly a decade ago. The Guardian

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
24 Jun 2021
The Taliban are strengthening their chokeholds around major cities [...] The fall of Kabul is not imminent. The Taliban is not an unstoppable military juggernaut. Al Jazeera

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
16 Apr 2021
The counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan had for years now become one of prevention, not one of identifying an imminent threat that must be countered. The Wall Street Journal

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia
14 Apr 2021
It's a tragedy that the U.S. didn't get serious about trying to stitch together a peace process in Afghanistan much earlier, before the thread ran out. BBC News

Laurel Miller

Program Director, Asia

Latest Updates

Briefing / Asia

Pakistan: Shoring Up Afghanistan’s Peace Process

Pakistan’s stakes in Afghanistan are rising as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to leave. All-out war after the withdrawal could push more Afghan refugees across the border and strengthen Pakistani militants. Islamabad should ratchet up pressure on the Taliban to engage in peace talks.

Op-Ed / Asia

There’s No Shortcut to Peace in Afghanistan

Washington’s latest idea of a transitional government would be worse than the dysfunctional status quo.

Originally published in Foreign Policy

Speech / Asia

Testimony on Afghanistan to the European Parliament

In testimony to the European Parliament about efforts to end the war in Afghanistan, Crisis Group expert Andrew Watkins describes the current scale of fighting, Taliban policies and how outside actors can support the peace process.

Op-Ed / Asia

Biden Must Make Hard Choices Quickly on Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s fate hinges in large part on how the Biden team decides to approach the country’s conflict and its tenuous, still-nascent peace process.

Originally published in World Politics Review

Briefing / Asia

What Future for Afghan Peace Talks under a Biden Administration?

Peace talks in Afghanistan have only inched forward even as the pace of conflict has picked up. As the Afghan government and Taliban await clearer policy signals from the incoming U.S. administration, their primary goal should be to keep the vital negotiations going.

Our People

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
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Ibraheem Bahiss

Consultant, Afghanistan