Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Regional Relations

This priority area covers AAN’s reporting on Afghanistan’s relations within its neighbourhood, with reporting so far focused mainly on Iran, Pakistan and the Central Asian republics.

Resistance leader Imam Shamil, an ethnic Avar and hero to many Chechens, surrenders to Russian forces in August 1859, (finding pictures of Chechens in Afghanistan is difficult) painting by Alexei Kivshenko, 1880

Chechens in Afghanistan 1: A Battlefield Myth That Will Not Die

Christian Bleuer

 In 2001, as the United States and other allied military forces attacked Taleban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, numerous soldiers, journalists and Afghans allied to the Americans relayed stories of a fearless and deadly opponent, incomparably worse than any other enemy: the Chechen. Such reports have never gone away, despite no Chechen having ever been […]

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A view over Herat city from a hill in the Bagh-e Mellat (Nation's Garden) resort – Herat is Musa's hometown, where he saw no future for himself. (Photo Source: Said Reza Kazemi)

Raftan, Raftan: How young Afghans from Herat end up in the Syrian war

S Reza Kazemi

Much has been reported about how Afghan men, mostly young Shias, are being incentivised or coerced by Iran into fighting on the side of the Assad regime in Syria. There has been little study, however, of how exactly they end up in Syria. Said Reza Kazemi (*) has been tracking a 22 year-old Shia Afghan […]

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Map: Major Ethnic Groups of Pakistan in 1980, Source: Wikipedia

The Crowded-Out Conflict: Pakistan’s Balochistan in its fifth round of insurgency

Ann Wilkens

In the international discussion on Pakistan´s many problems, the low-level conflict in its Balochistan province does not get much attention. The issue of nuclear arms, for instance, is considered more immediately frightening; Balochistan is just the area where these arms are tested. But the province is also the arena for a long-standing, complex and multi-faceted […]

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Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan. Credit: Kate Dixon (Flickr)

Attack on the Opposition in Tajikistan: Afghan concerns and comparisons

Christian Bleuer

Despite its 1300 kilometre-long border with Tajikistan, Afghanistan is rarely worried by the internal political strife and occasional violence to its north. The situation is, however, worsening. The Dushanbe government’s relentless attack on its domestic political (non-military) opposition, including the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), threatens to undo the relative peace and prosperity of […]

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Before Taleban: Former President Ashraf Ghani visiting China in October 2014. Photo c/o Khaama Press.

Copper and Peace: Afghanistan’s China dilemma

Thomas Ruttig

Facing what is now more than a two year delay in the opening of the Ainak copper mine, the Afghan government has indicated that it is considering re-advertising the contract for the project which had been won by a consortium of Chinese state-own companies. This turnaround has the potential to grow into a major foreign […]

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A Delicate Balance: The regional puzzle surrounding Pakistan’s decision to stay out of Yemen

Ann Wilkens Sudhansu Verma

Power relations and cooperation patterns are changing around Afghanistan. Its two most intrusive neighbours, Pakistan and Iran, are both at a stage where long-set behaviour seems to be tilting in different directions, with linkages to China (in the case of Pakistan) and the USA (in the case of Iran). At the same time, Pakistan and […]

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Tajik gentlemen discussing in Dushanbe. Photo: Thomas Ruttig

‘Peace-for-Power’ versus Participatory Solutions: Lessons of Tajikistan’s civil war – a book review

Arne C Seifert

In a highly relevant 2013 book, Central Asia analysts Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer (*) have looked at social relations and the political system in Tajikistan at the end of the 1990s civil war in this Central Asian neighbour of Afghanistan. Our guest author Arne C. Seifert (**) has read the book and argues that […]

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A “Pending Issue”: Pakistani Balochs seeking shelter in Afghanistan

Monica Bernabe

While millions of Afghans have fled to Pakistan over the past four decades, now, Pakistanis are flocking to Afghanistan. There are not only those who flee Pakistani military operations in Waziristan, though, but also Pakistani Balochs who say that they flee from repression by the Pakistani government, linked to latest Baloch insurgency activities. In Afghanistan, […]

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The men of the Heart of Asia process at their Beijing meeting. Photo: Pajhwok

More bilateral than multilateral effects: The Afghanistan conference in China

S Reza Kazemi

The fourth foreign ministerial conference of the Afghanistan-centred Heart of Asia/Istanbul process in Beijing on 31 October 2014 demonstrated a lack of progress in the regional cooperation in many respects, from its organisation to the funding. Nevertheless, it produced a few, rather mixed, results. These include, at a minimum, developments in Sino-Afghan relations and in Sino-American […]

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Presidents Ghani and Xi, during the former's second trip abroad, after umrah in Saudi Arabia. Photo c/o ToloNews.

On the Road through Beijing (and Kathmandu): The new Afghan leadership’s attempts to engage with Asia

S Reza Kazemi

Compelled by widening economic and other challenges, the new Afghan government seems determined to diversify Afghanistan’s foreign relations by slowly forging stronger economic and political ties with countries in the region. For this purpose, it has at least two cards to play: the country’s geographic position as a corridor for regional trade and its natural […]

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To Syria, not Afghanistan: Central Asian jihadis ‘neglect’ their neighbour

Christian Bleuer

Since the American and Northern Alliance defeat of the Taleban and their Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) allies in northern Afghanistan in late 2001, the arrival of would-be fighters from the former Soviet countries of Central Asia to Afghanistan has been a very small trickle. And yet, over the last year, the number of Central […]

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Will the ‘Heart of Asia’ start beating? A review of the regional co-operation process

S Reza Kazemi

The dragging-on of the presidential election has also affected regional co-operation on Afghanistan. The Afghan government, supported by the international community, has been attempting to work with regional states towards co-operation on security and development in Afghanistan and its neighbourhood under what is called the ‘Heart of Asia’ or Istanbul process since November 2011. Scheduled […]

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