War & Peace

Expanding Afghanistan’s Special Operations Forces: Doubling their success or further diluting their mission?

One of the key elements of the Afghan government’s Road Map for pushing back the insurgency is increasing the fighting capabilities of Afghan government forces. This includes the expansion of the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) praised special operations forces. However, this expansion is spurring already existing tendencies that are turning these units into shock troops, […]

Bracing for Attacks on Ashura: Extra security measures for Shia mourners

The Afghan government is arming local civilians and strengthening the police presence across the country to try to protect Shia Muslim places of worship in the run-up to Ashura. The commemoration will take place this Sunday (1 October 2017). With these last-minute measures, the government is reacting to demands from the community and criticism that […]

The New Kabul ‘Green Belt’ Security Plan: More Security for Whom?

Following the devastating 31 May 2017 bomb attack in the Afghan capital, President Ashraf Ghani commissioned his security experts to develop a new security plan for Kabul. Although apparently not officially approved or fully funded yet, the plan called the ‘Zarghun Belt’ (Green Belt) was announced in mid-August. Jelena Bjelica and Kate Clark (with input […]

Non-Pashtun Taleban of the North (4): A case study from Jawzjan

The Taleban have put in place administrative and military institutions in northern Jawzjan province that function relatively well. The shadow administrative posts are held by local non-Pashtuns. The recruitment of Uzbeks, in particular, has proved effective for the Taleban. However, Daesh’s appearance in this Uzbek-dominated province has created concerns, not only for the local government, […]

The Assault in Sayad: Did Taleban and Daesh really collaborate?

Armed militants have overrun Afghan Local Police (ALP) and a public uprising unit’s posts in the Mirza Olang village of Sayad district in Sar-e Pul province on 6 August 2017. Dozens of civilians were reportedly killed. There is another dimension, however, that created widespread international media reporting about the incident: claims by local officials that […]

At the End of a Long Curve: The fall of Janikhel

The temporary capture of Janikhel district centre by Taleban forces in late July 2017 stands out in the relatively static, mountainous and geographically and tribally fractured region of eastern Paktia and Khost. There, most district centres continue to be in government hands, while many areas outside of them are more or less under Taleban control. […]

The Non-Pashtun Taleban of the North (3): The Takhar case study

Despite some recent gains, the Taleban have struggled to establish a stronger foothold in the north-eastern province of Takhar. One of the reasons the movement they failed to do so have been growing tensions and power struggles among its Uzbek and Pashtun Taleban cadres. Strategically, this has left a geographical gap, preventing them from connecting […]

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