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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, […]

From ‘Traditionalist’ Islam to ‘Modern’ Islamist Nationalism: A new AAN report about ideology in the Afghan Taleban

The Taleban’s ideology has transformed over the past two decades. While the movement once typified a ‘traditionalist’ Islam – that is, it sought to articulate and defend a particular concept of Islam found in southern Pashtun villages – it is now, in its insurgency phase, closer to forms of political Islam espoused in the Arab […]

To Say It Like It Is: Norway’s evaluation of its part in the international intervention

Norway has published the first comprehensive evaluation of one country’s contribution to the international intervention in Afghanistan. The evaluation was conducted by a government-appointed commission led by Bjørn Tore Godal, a former foreign and defence minister. However, most commissioners were independent researchers. The ‘Godal report’, as it has become known, is a candid and sharp […]

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 […]