Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

This thematic category encompasses AAN’s reporting on Afghanistan’s major political events, including elections, the formation of cabinets and other appointments, the key political actors and their trajectories, and the many under-reported political trends.

Defying Dostum: A new Jombesh and the struggle for leadership over Afghanistan’s Uzbeks

Thomas Ruttig

After years of attempts at inner-party reform, dissidents of Jombesh, one of Afghanistan’s major political parties, have given up. They have left and created a new party; not very surprisingly it is called the “New Jombesh.” The recent departure to Turkey – officially for ‘medical treatment’ – by ‘old’ Jombesh leader (and First Vice President) […]

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

Alex Strick-Van-Linschoten

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 […]

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10 June 2017, outside one of several protest tents -- this one on 40 Metre Road near the Taimani Project -- that were erected on main roads around Kabul in response to both a truck bombing near the German Embassy that killed 150 and wounded as many as 500 as well as the police response to demonstrations that followed in which several protestors were killed. The last tent was removed three weeks after it was erected. Credit: Andrew Quilty for AAN

AAN Q&A: Tents and Bullets – the crackdown on the Kabul protests

AAN Team

The last of at least seven tents that protestors had set up in Kabul – after the horrific 31 May bomb attack and in protest against police brutality used during a march they organised on 2 June 2017 – has been removed. Afghan police forces dismantled it late in the evening of Monday, 19 June […]

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Hekmatyar’s Return to Kabul: Background reading by AAN

AAN

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the notorious leader of Hezb-e Islami, returned to Kabul today. After several years of on-and-off talks, between the Afghan government and envoys of the party’s leader-in-hiding, a deal allowing his return was finally signed in September 2016. Several months of negotiations on the finer details of the deal’s implementation followed. An overview of AAN’s past […]

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Posters celebrating the return of Gulbuddin Hetkmatyar have been put up in Kabul. Within hours, they were defaced. “I have always wanted my country free and independent,” this one says. "I think of nothing else.” (Photo: Ehsan Qaane)

Charismatic, Absolutist, Divisive: Hekmatyar and the impact of his return

Borhan Osman

One of the anti-Soviet mujahedin leaders, Mawlawi Yunus Khales, famously likened Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to a pair of trousers that had caught fire: get rid of them and be naked or keep them on and burn. Hekmatyar, Khales appeared to be saying, is too necessary to throw away and too problematic to keep close. So, what […]

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A sign of recent changes in the bazaar of Shamshatu, which would be more crowded before the new changes of 2016. Though the crowd in the bazaar has been considerably reduced, more people are expected to leave the camp. The possible new returns can further cause downsize to the business in the bazaar of Shamshatu camp.

Moving Out of Shamshatu: Hezb-e Islami’s refugee followers between hope of return and doubts about the peace deal

Fazl Rahman Muzhary

Shamshatu refugee camp, headquarters of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami in Pakistan since the 1980s, is increasingly empty. Many residents, including a number of important Hezb leaders, have left for Afghanistan, encouraged to return by the peace agreement signed by Hekmatyar and President Ashraf Ghani in September 2016. The deal paved the way for the return […]

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“Atta for President” Again? The struggle for the Afghan presidency and Jamiat’s leadership

Thomas Ruttig

This year’s Nawruz, the Persian New Year on 21 March 2017, also heralded the beginning of the positioning for Afghanistan’s next presidential election, although due only in two years’ time. Atta Muhammad Nur, the powerful governor of Balkh province, used the popular holiday to announce that he will run in 2019. He kept open, however, […]

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HIG leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Photo: website of Shahadat daily.

Hekmatyar taken off UN sanctions list: Paving the way for his return – and Hezb-e Islami’s reunification?

Thomas Ruttig

The United Nations has lifted the sanctions against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Islamic Party of Afghanistan. This was the next step in the implementation of the peace agreement signed by the Afghan government and Hezb in September 2016. It paves the way for the return of the former mujahedin leader, one of the […]

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Baghe-Babur in the snow, January 2017. Photo: Martine van Bijlert

What to Watch? Key issues to follow in Afghanistan in 2017

AAN Team

As in most years, the feeling in January 2017 is that this will be another crucial year for Afghanistan. The AAN team has identified several key themes that we think it important to follow this year. They range from crises in the Afghan government and how changes in global politics, particularly the change of administration […]

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During the previous elections in Afghanistan, the IEC's temporary electoral staff was hired from the open job market through a process of staggered recruitment. In the next election, according to the new electoral law, the temporary staff will be drawn from among the government's teachers, professors and other employees. Picture: Martine van Bijlert, 2014.

Afghanistan’s Incomplete New Electoral Law: Changes and controversies

Ali Yawar Adili Martine van Bijlert

Afghanistan’s new electoral law has come into force, which means that the requirement of electoral reform ahead of the next elections has – at least nominally – been met. AAN’s Ali Yawar Adili and Martine van Bijlert discuss the main features of the new law and note that the most controversial and complicated changes have been passed on […]

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Darb-e Khosh (Happy Gate), a historical gate to Herat city, being rebuilt as part of the young mayor's campaign for urban development. Photo: Said Reza Kazemi

The Battle between Law and Force: Scattered political power and deteriorating security test Herat’s dynamism

S Reza Kazemi

Herat – the affluent and vibrant city in western Afghanistan – is going through a ‘scattering’ of political power and a deterioration in security. While Ismail Khan, the self-styled ‘amir of the west’, is still the preeminent figure, political power is no longer concentrated only in his hands, and the new actors are behaving differently […]

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constituencies - two complicated and politically fraught tasks. Photo: Martine van Bijlert

Update on Afghanistan’s Electoral Process: Electoral deadlock broken – for now

Ali Yawar Adili Martine van Bijlert

Afghanistan’s electoral reform process, a major part of the National Unity Government’s programme, has been slow and painful with its high stakes and divided government positions. But over the last few months two significant hurdles have been taken: the new electoral law has finally been passed, and the new electoral commissions have been appointed. Although […]

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