Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

War and Peace

This thematic category brings together AAN’s reporting on the conflict in Afghanistan, its underlying causes and drivers, the various armed actors and how it affects Afghans in their everyday lives.

Update on the Afghan Local Police: Making sure they are armed, trained, paid and exist

Kate Clark

The Afghan Local Police (ALP) emerged out of an American special forces’ project to establish ‘community defence forces’ in 2009 and 2010. Despite being viewed by many as ‘militias in uniform’, the ALP has survived and grown to become a significant part of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), present in all but three of […]

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Silhouettes of armed men against a darkening sky

Reforming the Afghan Ministry of Interior: A way to ‘tilt’ the war?

Kate Clark

As part of their review of military strategy in Afghanistan, both President Ashraf Ghani and the Commander of United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, have honed in on the Ministry of Interior as a critical weakness in the government’s fight against the Taleban. The Afghan National Police, a paramilitary force, is […]

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A Black Week in Kabul (2): Who are the most likely perpetrators?

Borhan Osman

On 31 May and 3 June 2017, Kabul was the scene of a series of new terrorist bomb attacks that took a heavy toll on the civilian population. While no group has claimed the attacks, the Afghan government has pointed at the Haqqani network, which is part of the Taleban. All this leaves room for […]

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A Black Week in Kabul: Terror and protests

Martine van Bijlert Thomas Ruttig

It has been an incredibly difficult week for Kabul. In four days, over a hundred people were killed and several hundreds injured – most of them in a massive terrorist attack in central Kabul on 31 May 2017. Two days later, as angry protests threatened to become violent, the police opened fire killing and injuring […]

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The Battle for Mamand: ISKP under strain, but not yet defeated 

Borhan Osman

In recent weeks, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has lost a significant part of its stronghold in Nangrahar as well as several senior commanders and its overall leader, Sheikh Abdul Hasib. Its losses have been mounting steadily since early April when American and Afghan special forces intensified their campaign against the group. This included […]

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‘Mother of All Bombs’ Dropped on ISKP: Assessing the aftermath

Borhan Osman Kate Clark Martine van Bijlert

American and Afghan forces have arrived at the site of the massive US bomb blast that targeted a complex of tunnels and caves in Achin, Nangarhar, the stronghold of the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), on 13 April 2017. Journalists and other independent observers have not yet been allowed to enter the area, so information […]

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Former Taleban shadow governor of Faryab, Qari Salahuddin Ayubi, (barefaced with black turban, sitting in the centre) used to be famous for mobilising fighters with fiery speeches in Uzbek. He was arrested by the NDS in September 2015. He was replaced by Mufti Muzafar. (photo: Taleban media)

Non-Pashtun Taleban of the North (2): Case studies of Uzbek Taleban in Faryab and Sar-e Pul

Obaid Ali

The Taleban have spent many years ‘localising’ their fight in the north, recruiting local fighters and commanders and keying in to Afghan Uzbek madrassa networks in Pakistan and the north. That drive has paid off; in the Uzbek-majority provinces of Faryab and Sar-e Pul, the Taleban have gained significant ground against the government. In this […]

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A Reaper drone flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan (US Air Force/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt: 2008)

Drone Warfare 2: Targeted Killings – a future model for Afghanistan?

Kate Clark

Armed drones came of age, by chance, at the onset of the United State’s ‘war on terror’. Washington has used them ever since to provide close air support to troops on the ground and to carry out targeted killings. In Afghanistan, they have been relatively uncontroversial, but in other countries, their legality, effectiveness and potential […]

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Graves prepared for those killed during an attack claimed by Daesh/ISKP on 23 July 2016 suicide which targeted a peaceful demonstration in Deh Mazang square, Kabul. It was the single deadliest conflict-related incident for civilians recorded by UNAMA in Afghanistan since 2001. Most of the victims were Shia Hazaras (Xinhua/Rahmat Alizadah)

More Horrific Records Set: UNAMA documents another peak year of civilian casualties

Kate Clark

More than eleven thousand civilians were killed or injured in the conflict in Afghanistan last year, setting a grisly new record – the highest number of civilian casualties recorded by UNAMA in any year since it started systematic documentation in 2009. In its 2016 annual report on the protection of civilians in the conflict, UNAMA […]

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Photo posted recently by Taleban social media activists showing, they said, fighters in Kunduz. Vehicle carries the movement’s flag and fighters appear all to be in camouflage, while one wears a headband. (2016)

Rallying Around the White Flag: Taleban embrace an assertive identity

Borhan Osman

The Taleban appear to have woken up to the importance of organisational symbols and their political meaning. Compared to how little they cared about their image during the 1990s and the initial years of the insurgency, the Taleban now project an increasing consciousness of their ‘brand’. This is seen in both their media and the […]

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Badakhshan – from anti-Taleban bulwark to contested province. Photo: Mirco Kreibich (2005).

The Non-Pashtun Taleban of the North (1): A case study from Badakhshan

Obaid Ali

The Taleban movement is winning ground in the northern province of Badakhshan, a province that was never conquered when the Taleban were in power in the 1990s. Over the past two years, a new generation of largely Tajik Taleban has come to pose a serious challenge for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) : a […]

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IS fighter distributes propaganda material to inhabitants of Kot district.

ISKP’s Battle for Minds: What are its main messages and who do they attract?

Borhan Osman

The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) uses propaganda to carve out new space in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s already crowded jihadi landscape. It uses popular media and promotes a distinct narrative of Salafi-jihadism tailored to local preferences and focused on specific themes. In the first part of this dispatch, AAN’s Borhan Osman analyses the propaganda messages […]

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