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.

Under the Mountain: A pre-emptive Taleban spring offensive in Shindand

Fabrizio Foschini

Throughout March 2016, Shindand district in Herat province witnessed heavy fighting. Clashes between two rival insurgent groups were followed by a string of ANSF military operations. With substantial help from Quetta, the local pro-Mansur Taleban group has swept away a pro-Rasul outfit that had recently proved less aggressive towards the government. This new outbreak of […]

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Screenshot of the Taleban's spring offensive announcement 2016 on their English language website

Operation Omari: Taleban Announced 2016 Spring Offensive

AAN Team Borhan Osman

The Taleban made their yearly spring offensive announcement on 12 April 2016. The statement attributed to Taleban leadership council (Rahbari Shura) named the offensive “Operation Omari,” in honour of the movement’s late leader and provides clues with regard to both the Taleban’s plans and the way they wish to present themselves. Of particular note are the […]

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Soldiers collect the bodies of killed colleagues after the Taleban attack on the Dahan Ab-e Khostak base in Jurm, Badakhshan. The process took up to ten days because of the lack of available helicopters to transport them out of the district. (Photo Credit: Local authorities, April 2015)

Violence in Badakhshan Persists: what last year’s Jurm attack still tells us about insecurity in the north

Bethany Matta

On the one year anniversary of a major attack in Jurm in April 2015, and not long before the Taleban are expected to announce their new spring offensive, Badakhshis are nervously anticipating the year ahead. AAN guest author Bethany Matta revisits the attack, detailing how it happened and showing how the attack and its aftermath […]

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Under threat since 2014: The Sangin district governor’s office, with hesco barriers (Source: Pajhwok Afghan News, 2015)

Helmand (2): The chain of chiefdoms unravels

Rahmatullah Amiri

In Helmand in the second half of 2015, the ‘dominos’ started to fall, with successive areas of the province coming under Taleban control. During the United States surge, a line of ‘chiefdoms’ was created, where Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan Local Police (ALP) and militia commanders managed to consolidate control of local areas. In 2015, […]

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Zamindawar, Kajaki district. Taleban were never eliminated during the US ’surge’ from this and other areas of northern Helmand: later, they would use them as a launchpad to re-emerge. (Photo Credit: Rahmatullah Amiri, August 2013)

Helmand (1): A crisis a long time coming

Rahmatullah Amiri

The rapid fall of entire areas of Helmand to the Taleban during the second half of 2015 and early 2016 has left the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) scrambling to hold the line and try to push back, and led to international forces deploying troops to the province. Guest author Rahmatullah Amiri* brings a special […]

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Provincial Governor's Office, Paktia Province. Photo: Pajhwok

The ANSF’s Zurmat Operation: Abuses against local civilians

Fazl Rahman Muzhary

In early January 2016, an Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) operation in Zurmat, a southern district of Paktia province, resulted in civilian casualties. According to local residents, the Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers’ heavy shelling of villages they suspected to be Taleban hideouts caused the most harm. Abuses, such as beatings and the use of […]

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A view of the quadrilateral talks in Kabul. Source: Etilaat-e Ruz.

In Search of a Peace Process: A ‘new’ HPC and an ultimatum for the Taleban

Thomas Ruttig

Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US – the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) – are pushing to open a new chapter in the ongoing search for a peace process for Afghanistan. The group has now met for the fourth time, although direct talks with the Taleban have yet to begin. Earlier this week, it issued an […]

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A man carries a girl injured in a suicide attack at a checkpoint in Lashkargah, Helmand , killing two civilians and injuring two others,16 March 2015. Front Page of UNAMA report © 2015/AP/Abdul Khaliq.

The Bloodiest Year Yet: UN reports on civilian casualties in 2015

Kate Clark

2015 was the worst year for civilians in the Afghan conflict since UNAMA started systematically documenting casualties in 2009. Its annual report looking at the protection of civilians in 2015 found the trend towards more casualties in 2015 particularly marked for women and children. For women, IEDs are now the second biggest killer, with increased […]

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Kandahar's Red Mosque, said to have been Mullah Omar's favourite one. Foto: Thomas Ruttig (2005).

The New Taleban Deputy Leaders: Is there an obvious successor to Akhtar Mansur?

Thomas Ruttig

Reports of the alleged killing of new Taleban leader Akhtar Mansur in December 2015 as well as his subsequent disappearance from public view have raised the question as to who might be next-in-line and whether there exists an internal, legitimate mechanism for succession. This question is all the more pressing given the continuing, albeit dwindling, […]

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The 2016 Insurgency in the North: Beyond Kunduz city – lessons (not taken) from the Taleban takeover

Obaid Ali

In the last two months of 2015, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) conducted a significant counteroffensive to remove the Taleban from areas just outside Kunduz city as well as from a number of its outlying district centres. Since recapturing the city on 13 October 2015, efforts have barely had an impact, especially in the districts. Yet, […]

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Ghzni Prison. Credit: Tolo News

Ghazni Jailbreak: Where the government failed and its enemy succeeded

Fazl Rahman Muzhary

Taleban fighters broke into the Ghazni jail and freed hundreds of inmates, including key Taleban commanders, in the early morning of 14 September 2015. It was the ninth spectacular jailbreak since 2001, but the Ghazni jailbreak was different than most of them: better planned and with more fighters. The government forces, on the other hand, […]

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Mirai Bazaar, Andar District, Ghazni Province - March 2013. Photo: Fazal Muzhary

Finding Business Opportunity in Conflict: Shopkeepers, Taleban and the political economy of Andar district

Fazl Rahman Muzhary

Even in times of war, people still need to buy food and other essentials and shopkeepers still need to sell. But when frontlines shift and military masters change – due to insurgency, uprising or rising government power – how can shopkeepers react to try to survive the situation? Indeed, how can they try to find […]

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