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.

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CrisisWatch Afghanistan

Unchanged Situation

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.

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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

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Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan

Graeme Smith

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan
Graeme Smith

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