War & Peace

Ghani’s Speech to the Parliament: A hardening position on war, peace and Pakistan

President Ghani’s speech to the Afghan parliament, in an extraordinary joint session on 25 April 2016, was unprecedented. Made in response to demands that he clarify the government’s security policies, the televised speech was sober and dignified, and detailed the government’s hardening stance against Pakistan, the Haqqani network, Daesh and “parts of the Taleban.” Although, […]

A Shaken City: On the Taleban‘s truck-bomb attack in Kabul

The explosion which shook Kabul on 19 April 2016 was so large  its reverberation could be felt throughout almost the entire city. All that day, and the next, the death toll continued to rise. Official figures currently stand at 68 killed and 347 injured, but the real numbers are likely to be higher. The scale of the […]

Under the Mountain: A pre-emptive Taleban spring offensive in Shindand

Throughout March 2016, Shindand district in Herat province witnessed heavy fighting. Clashes between two rival insurgent groups were followed by a string of ANSF military operations. With substantial help from Quetta, the local pro-Mansur Taleban group has swept away a pro-Rasul outfit that had recently proved less aggressive towards the government. This new outbreak of […]

Operation Omari: Taleban Announced 2016 Spring Offensive

The Taleban made their yearly spring offensive announcement on 12 April 2016. The statement attributed to Taleban leadership council (Rahbari Shura) named the offensive “Operation Omari,” in honour of the movement’s late leader and provides clues with regard to both the Taleban’s plans and the way they wish to present themselves. Of particular note are the […]

Helmand (2): The chain of chiefdoms unravels

In Helmand in the second half of 2015, the ‘dominos’ started to fall, with successive areas of the province coming under Taleban control. During the United States surge, a line of ‘chiefdoms’ was created, where Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan Local Police (ALP) and militia commanders managed to consolidate control of local areas. In 2015, […]

Helmand (1): A crisis a long time coming

The rapid fall of entire areas of Helmand to the Taleban during the second half of 2015 and early 2016 has left the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) scrambling to hold the line and try to push back, and led to international forces deploying troops to the province. Guest author Rahmatullah Amiri* brings a special […]

The ANSF’s Zurmat Operation: Abuses against local civilians

In early January 2016, an Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) operation in Zurmat, a southern district of Paktia province, resulted in civilian casualties. According to local residents, the Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers’ heavy shelling of villages they suspected to be Taleban hideouts caused the most harm. Abuses, such as beatings and the use of […]

The Bloodiest Year Yet: UN reports on civilian casualties in 2015

2015 was the worst year for civilians in the Afghan conflict since UNAMA started systematically documenting casualties in 2009. Its annual report looking at the protection of civilians in 2015 found the trend towards more casualties in 2015 particularly marked for women and children. For women, IEDs are now the second biggest killer, with increased […]

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