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Election Day One: A rural-urban divide emerging

Afghanistan’s third post-Taleban parliamentary elections have started slowly, with a lot of technical chaos and significant fighting in a number of provinces. Polling hours have now been extended. Even in many areas of Kabul, polling centres had not opened by 9:30am. There are widespread reports of a lack of polling material, electoral staff being unfamiliar […]

Going Nationwide: The Helmand peace march initiative

Protests in Helmand calling for a ceasefire and talks between insurgents and government are about to enter their second month. The pro-peace demonstrations which began in what are often described as the Taleban’s ‘southern heartlands’, have been spreading: they can now be found in half of Afghanistan’s provinces and for now, at least, they are […]

Jihadi Commuters: How the Taleban cross the Durand Line

The Taleban use Pakistan as a sanctuary: most of the movement’s leaders are settled there and it is the movement’s preferred place for training, meeting and as a rear base. It is also the prime destination for ‘rest and recuperation’ (R&R) and the rehabilitation of wounded fighters. But how do the Taleban move between the […]

Operation Omari: Taleban Announced 2016 Spring Offensive

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 […]

Toward Fragmentation? Mapping the post-Omar Taleban

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. […]

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

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 […]

Trouble in Khas Uruzgan: Insults, assaults, a siege and an airlift

After three months of near non-stop fighting in Khas Uruzgan, a mixed Pashtun-Hazara district in northeast Uruzgan, the Taleban decimated the district’s Afghan Local Police (ALP) and forced most of the other security forces back into the district centre. The attack was not just part of a wider, concerted effort by the Taleban to put […]