Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Reports

Reports – previously known as dispatches – are the flagship of the AAN website and our main type of publication. AAN reports are based on extensive desk and field research and provide timely and in-depth information and analysis.

The Largest Standing Stupa in Afghanistan: A short history of the Buddhist site at Topdara

Jelena Bjelica

A dome-shaped ancient Buddhist shrine, the Topdara stupa to the north of Kabul was described by 19th century British explorer Charles Masson as “perhaps the most complete and beautiful monument of the kind in these countries.” Since Masson’s visit in 1833, the Topdara stupa saw few visitors and had fallen into neglect until recently, in […]

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AAN Reads: An Afghanistan history covering 750 years

Thomas Ruttig

Eminent Afghanistan specialists and historians have praised Jonathan L Lee’s 2018 Afghanistan: a history from 1260 to the present as “detailed research of the highest quality” and even the new go-to “encyclopaedia” on this subject. It is indeed encyclopaedic, pulling interesting episodes out of the dark of Afghan history, but still, it is partly disappointing, […]

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“Our Lives Changed”: Afghans remember the coming of the Soviet troops

AAN Team S Reza Kazemi

Forty years ago, Soviet forces entered Afghanistan, killed then President Hafizullah Amin from the Khalq faction of the ruling communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) on 27 December 1979 and brought to power Babrak Karmal, who was from the rival Parcham faction. The move was meant to be a relatively short-lived, regime change operation, […]

War and Peace Read more

A Turning Point in World History: 40 years ago, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig

Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan 40 years ago today, on 25 December 1979. Two days later, on 27 December, they toppled and killed Amin’s Khalqi’s government which had called for the troops and had assumed they had come for their rescue. The resulting occupation that would last for more than ten years became the last direct […]

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Freed at Last: Three Afghans sent to Guantanamo in 2002 and 2003 are finally home

Kate Clark

Three Afghans, who were detained and rendered to the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and 2003, and then transferred to the United Arab Emirates 2016 and what turned out to be further incarceration, have been released. Obaidullah and Mohammed Karim from Khost and Hamidullah from Kabul have also been allowed to return […]

Rights and Freedoms Read more

Afghanistan’s 2019 Elections (27): The preliminary result, finally, but no end to controversy

Ali Yawar Adili

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has finally announced the preliminary results of the 28 September presidential election. The announcement came on 22 December, almost three months after the vote and more than two months after the results announcement had been envisaged in the electoral calendar. In these preliminary results, President Ashraf Ghani has crossed the […]

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Peace in the Districts (2): Prospects, approaches and an emphasis on a ‘good peace’

S Reza Kazemi

In this second of two dispatches on what people in ten districts across Afghanistan think about prospects for peace, we hear their views on the relationship between a possible high-level peace deal and actual peace in the districts. Interviewees expressed a striking mix of optimistic and sceptical opinions as to the local viability of any […]

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One Land, Two Rules (9): Delivering public services in insurgency-affected Jalrez district of Wardak province

Ehsan Qaane

Ethnically-mixed Jalrez district has seen increased Taleban activity since 2014, with approximately half of it now under their control. The district centre is the most contested sub-district, having been surrounded and repeatedly attacked by the Taleban. Twenty kilometres of the secondary Kabul-Bamyan highway, which connects the Hazarajat to the Afghan capital, is under Taleban control. […]

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Legal Arguments and War Crimes: the ICC Appeals Hearing on Afghanistan in Five Questions

Ehsan Qaane Sari Kouvo

The judges of the International Criminal Court’s Appeals Chamber are now deciding whether to authorise an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly perpetrated in Afghanistan. The court’s Pre-Trial Chamber decided in April to reject such an investigation. At the appeal hearing, everyone who spoke agreed that crimes severe enough for the ICC […]

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Peace in the Districts (1): A chasm between high talks and local concerns in Afghanistan

S Reza Kazemi

As talks between the United States and the Taleban resume in Doha, we bring you the first of two dispatches on what Afghans in ten districts across the country think about the prospects for peace. The focus of the first dispatch is a theme which emerged from the interviews, the relationship – or lack of […]

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Afghanistan’s 2019 Elections (26): A Q&A about the ongoing election stalemate

Ali Yawar Adili

The aftermath of Afghanistan’s 2019 presidential election has now dragged on for 72 days. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has missed two dates for the announcement of preliminary results and is 50 days behind its original election timetable. The commission has not decided yet when it will announce the results. Meanwhile, the IEC’s audit and […]

Political Landscape Read more

Afghanistan’s 2019 Election (25): contradictory figures and low turnout in Kandahar

Fazl Rahman Muzhary

Kandahar’s turnout looks like it will be less than half the national average, pending finalisation of the numbers. There are many possible reasons for this, chief among them fraud, with limited reporting but plenty of anecdotal evidence of ballot stuffing and other irregularities. But Kandaharis also seem to have been deterred by the low level […]

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