Dispatches

The Politics of Opposition: A challenge to the National Unity Government?

The failure to implement its own agreement and the continuing rift within the National Unity Government have created an opportunity for political opposition groups across the spectrum to voice their criticism of the government. In the past, Afghanistan’s political opposition has been made up of various councils and fronts, often associated with prominent powerbrokers and […]

The Bride Price: The Afghan tradition of paying for wives

Weddings are hugely expensive affairs in Afghanistan, with excessive costs for wedding halls, lavish meals and usually a bride price. The bride price is the money paid by the groom’s family for the bride to her family. It is a contested tradition that is viewed as having no foundation in Islamic law and does not […]

The Taleban Assault on Kunduz city: Déjà vu, but why?

A little over a year after the temporary fall of Kunduz city to the Taleban, the city has become a battleground again. On 3 October 2016, the Taleban entered during a massive assault from three directions. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), supported by US forces and air power, are battling to recapture the areas they […]

The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: Between aid and migration

The Afghan Government and the EU will co-host the Brussels conference on 5 October 2016. A couple of side events will take place on 4 October, and a high-level dialogue on migration is scheduled for 3 October. Around 70 countries and 30 international organisations will come together in the Belgian capital to review the achievements […]

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 […]

Who Was King Habibullah II? A query from the literature

The recent reburial of King Habibullah II – aka Habibullah Kalakani aka derogatively Bacha-ye Saqao (The Water Carrier’s Son) – that stirred up controversy and violence was another reflection of Afghanistan’s increasingly ethnicised politics. Competing narratives about historical events and the legacy of historical figures reflect deeper, underlying societal and political cleavages, both between ethnic […]

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