Dispatches

Working in a ‘Grey Zone’: ICRC forced to scale back its work in Afghanistan

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said it has “no other choice but to drastically reduce its presence and activities in Afghanistan, in particular in the north of the country.” The decision follows three attacks on its staff in less than a year, including the worst suffered by the organisation worldwide in […]

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, […]

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