War & Peace

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 […]

Ghazni Jailbreak: Where the government failed and its enemy succeeded

Taleban fighters broke into the Ghazni jail and freed hundreds of inmates, including key Taleban commanders, in the early morning of 14 September 2015. It was the ninth spectacular jailbreak since 2001, but the Ghazni jailbreak was different than most of them: better planned and with more fighters. The government forces, on the other hand, […]

Toward Fragmentation? Mapping the post-Omar Taleban

The Taleban movement has entered its third decade with infighting threatening its – up till now ­– remarkable unity. The killing of Mansur Dadullah during clashes between Taleban factions in Zabul on 12 November 2015 highlighted the scope of this unprecedented discord. Dadullah had been deputy leader of a newly-formed, breakaway faction of the Taleban. […]

The ‘Zabul Seven’ Protests: Who speaks for the victims?

On 11 November 2015, Kabul witnessed probably one of the largest demonstrations in recent history. The trigger was the slaughter of seven Hazara travellers who had been taken hostage in Zabul province about a month ago. The demonstration, which continued well into the night, became an amalgam of emotions and agendas: grief and horror over […]

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