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.

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 in 2013 when it was still partly functional. From 2017 onwards when the conflict intensified, almost all traders moved their shops to  Kamalkhil or Nazarwall. Photo: Fazal Muzhary, March 2013

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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Toward Fragmentation? Mapping the post-Omar Taleban

Borhan Osman

The Taleban movement has entered its third decade with infighting threatening its – up till now ­– remarkable unity. The killing of Mansur Dadullah during clashes between Taleban factions in Zabul on 12 November 2015 highlighted the scope of this unprecedented discord. Dadullah had been deputy leader of a newly-formed, breakaway faction of the Taleban. […]

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The large Zabul Seven protests in Kabul, 11 November 2015. Photo: Pajhwok.

The ‘Zabul Seven’ Protests: Who speaks for the victims?

Martine van Bijlert

On 11 November 2015, Kabul witnessed probably one of the largest demonstrations in recent history. The trigger was the slaughter of seven Hazara travellers who had been taken hostage in Zabul province about a month ago. The demonstration, which continued well into the night, became an amalgam of emotions and agendas: grief and horror over […]

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MSF Investigation: US hospital strike looking more like a war crime

Kate Clark

A preliminary investigation by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) into the United States airstrike on its hospital in Kunduz on 3 October, which killed at least 30 people, has raised some serious questions. Fresh evidence suggests statements made by US officials in the first few days after the attack were false. It also makes clear how […]

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The 2015 insurgency in the North (4): Surrounding the cities in Baghlan

Gran Hewad

During the recent two week Taleban occupation of Kunduz city, the strong insurgent presence in the province immediately to the south, Baghlan, was of huge importance to the insurgents. By blocking the key north-south road which goes through the heart of the province, they prevented ANA reinforcements from the capital from reaching Kunduz for several days. The movement […]

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