War & Peace

Peace With Hekmatyar: What does it mean for battlefield and politics?

The peace deal signed today by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-e Islami, and President Ashraf Ghani, has been hailed by the Afghan government as the first major peace achievement of the last fifteen years. However, expectations should be tempered. Given Hezb-e Islami’s almost total absence on the battlefield, the deal is unlikely to significantly lower […]

Descent into chaos: Why did Nangarhar turn into an IS hub?

Armed groups pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) have tried to establish a foothold in five of Afghanistan’s provinces, but only in Nangarhar have they succeeded. There, IS Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Afghanistan-Pakistan franchise of the Islamic State, landed on fertile ground with a fragmented insurgency, bickering provincial elites, a tradition of Salafi networks […]

How to replace a bad ALP commander: in Shajoy, success and now calamity

The Afghan Local Police (ALP) commander in Shajoy district, Zabul province, Haji Gul Agha, has been killed in a Taleban ambush, along with four of his men. AAN’s Fazal Muzhary had been researching Gul Agha’s record as his was an interesting example of locals managing, with great difficulty, to get rid of an abusive ALP […]

The Attack on the American University in Kabul (2): Who did it and why?

The attack on the American University in Kabul on 24 August 2016 was unprecedented in many respects. For the first time, a ‘complex attack’ – often reserved for high-profile and well-guarded targets – hit an educational institution. It also came in the wake of an ideological campaign by circles in the Taleban movement that had […]

Far From Back to Normal: The Kunduz crisis lingers on

The Taleban’s recent takeover of both Qala-ye Zal and Dasht-e Archi’s district centres is the latest episode in the long-running battle for possession of Kunduz province. It follows the spectacular takeover of Kunduz’s provincial centre by insurgents in late September 2015, the hard-won recapture by pro-government forces two weeks later and the government’s unsuccessful counter-offensive […]

Taleban in the North: Gaining ground along the Ring Road in Baghlan

The Taleban have made significant inroads in a number of strategic areas in the northern province of Baghlan over the past two years. They now pose a greater threat than ever to the Baghlan-Balkh highway, part of the Ring Road which here links Kabul to the north. The Taleban know that by blocking highways, they […]

Taleban in Transition 2: Who is in charge now?

The new Taleban leader, Mullah Haibatullah, is being closely scrutinised to see if he will try to shape the goals and methods of the insurgency. The question is not just whether he wants to, but if he can. Gone are the days when the amir of the Taleban, by mere virtue of his position, had […]

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