Political Landscape

Hekmatyar’s Return to Kabul: Background reading by AAN

Hekmatyar's convoy arrives at the outskirts of Kabul, after which he is scheduled to be welcomed by president Ghani. Photo credit: Tolo News

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 reporting on the winding road that led to the deal provides indispensable background to the questions that still surround Hekmatyar’s return to public life.

For AAN’s most recent analysis on Hekmatyar’s return read this dispatch (3 May 2017):

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

 For analysis on the practical impact of the recent deal – on the UN’s sanctions list and on the situation in Shamshatu refugee camp, long the de facto HQ of Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami – see these two dispatches (11 February 2017 and 14 April 2017):

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

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

To see how the agreement with Hezb-e Islami features within the larger context of the issues facing Afghanistan this year, see here (27 January 2017):

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

For background on why Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami is controversial, and how the past still reverberates today, read this dispatch (14 December 2016):

Afghan War Criminal Zardad Freed: No protection for witnesses

For AAN’s analysis on the importance and impact of the deal, as it was being negotiated and signed, see these two dispatches (21 May 2016 and 29 September 2016):

Almost Signed? The peace agreement with Hezb-e Islami

Peace With Hekmatyar: What does it mean for battlefield and politics?

AAN’s paper on the influence of radical Islamic groups – other than the Taleban – among Afghanistan’s youth, includes an in-depth look the role of the Hezb-e Islami youth, including at Afghanistan’s universities (23 June 2015):

Beyond Jihad and Traditionalism: Afghanistan’s new generation of Islamic activists

The following dispatches trace the emergence and development of the negotiations with Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami, both under president Karzai and president Ghani (most recent first):

19 February 2014:

Bomb and Ballot: The many strands and tactics of Hezb-e Islami

6 May 2013:

Adding the Ballot to the Bullet? Hezb-e Islami in transition

7 June 2012:

Another Hezb-e Islami U-Turn – with more to follow? (amended)

26 April 2012:

The second line of talks: Hezb-e Islami in Kabul

 6 November 2010:

Gulbuddin ante portas – again (2)

22 March 2010:

Gulbuddin ante portas – again (Updated)

Finally, see this dispatch for more background on Afghanistan’s ‘Amnesty Law’ that allows the search for peace to take place through blanket amnesty (22 February 2010):

After two years in legal limbo: A first glance at the approved ‘Amnesty law’

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Thematic Category: Political Landscape