Killing of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a US drone attack inside Taliban-ruled Afghanistan at the weekend has been billed as a major win by the United States against extremism. US President Joe Biden, who gave the final approval to launch the strike against Zawahri, declared
Growing ties between India and the Taliban in Afghanistan have raised eyebrows in Pakistan, which doesn’t want to see a New Delhi-friendly Kabul due to its own security concerns.
The Taliban have shown in recent weeks that they are willing to strengthen relations with India, including defence
On 19 April, a suicide bomber struck as students were coming out of school in Kabul, Afghanistan, leaving dozens injured and at least six dead. The brutality of the attack – and others that occurred later that week – shook Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in Australia. The youngest victim
In the last fortnight, Pakistan has launched a drone campaign in Afghanistan against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – the Pakistani Taliban. The campaign is a result of the Afghan Taliban’s reluctance to crack down on the TTP on Afghan soil. Islamabad’s expectation that the
As a consequence of its actions, Russia faces potentially stifling isolation. Russia will want to show the limits of this isolation through regional frameworks that also enable the Russian military to act as the dominant power. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) offers Russia this
Last week, Western officials held closed-door discussions with a Taliban delegation hosted by Norway in Oslo, making clear that humanitarian aid to Afghanistan would be conditional on an improvement in human rights in the war-torn country. The need for assistance is urgent, with the United
The world has turned a blind eye to the sheer human misery surrounding Afghanistan ever since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021. While several regional countries and institutions have held conferences to discuss ways to avert the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, these talks are
US forces and their allies debated the same question with varying intensity for 20 years after the 9/11 attacks. Afghanistan: To leave or not to leave? Syed Fazl-e-Haider:
The Taliban has already warned the US-led forces against extending their presence and demanded they stick to the Doha
Under the 2020 Doha Agreement, the US withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan was conditional on Taliban security assurances that Afghan territory would not be used as a launch pad by al-Qaeda or Islamic State for attacks against the United States. Similar accords seeking security promises from
In this episode of Lowy Institute Conversations, former member of the Afghan parliament and its first female deputy speaker Fawzia Koofi joins Lowy Institute Research Fellow Lydia Khalil for a discussion on the heartbreak of leaving Afghanistan, the prospects for the country under Taliban
Concerns are growing about the ramifications of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The ripple effects of the pull-out and its urgent consequences have bolstered Islamist ambitions – not only in Afghanistan but beyond. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of a “real danger (
When the Taliban emerged from the wastes of Afghanistan in the 1990s, the international community was caught completely off guard. Intelligence on the ground was pretty much non-existent and whatever policies that followed in dealing with this new threat reflected this deficiency. Subsequent events
The attack on evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport by the Islamic State- Khorasan Province (ISK, ISKP, or ISIS-K) triggered much speculation about the Afghan Taliban’s ability to constrain terrorism in the country. But it also served as a reminder of the intense rivalry between the Taliban and
Amid the chaos of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, regional players including Turkey have been jostling to position themselves with the new regime and take advantage of the benefits from the vacuum left by the United States and NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that he is
Bob Carr recalls in his Diary of a Foreign Minister how a senior Australian intelligence official told him bluntly in 2013 that the war against the Taliban was failing.
“We spent a billion dollars in Uruzgan province … We could have achieved the same result if I had been
Is Afghanistan any longer a State in the international system under international law? More particularly, is the Taliban capable of being recognised as a legitimate government?
These are not just technical legal issues. They are ones that have already been raised and have political consequences.
Has America’s ignominious withdrawal from Afghanistan damaged its credibility? The scenes of chaos and panic at Kabul International Airport have certainly reinforced the sense that the United States had lost control of the situation in Afghanistan. The events of the 10 days since the Taliban
The takeover of the Afghan government by the hard-line Islamist Taliban was swift and bloodless – at least on the day the group marched into the capital, Kabul. It means a u-turn for the country domestically, away from progressive policies and relatively liberal climate, and a return to the
Women police have been among the victims of targeted killings as the Taliban expanded their territorial gains over the last year, along with women judges, journalists and human rights defenders. In recent months, some women who served in the Ministry of Interior Affairs or Afghan National Police
Did the US intelligence community fail by not accurately predicting the speed and scale of the Taliban’s victory?
A familiar blame game is now underway in Washington with administration officials and intelligence sources each backgrounding the media with their respective sides of the story. An
What was predicted to take 90 days instead occurred within weeks – a complete takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban after a hasty withdrawal of US troops, with Kabul succumbing without a struggle.
But mayhem, chaos and uncertainty was not unexpected. Concerned voices had raised the alarm
I am not an emotionally detached observer of Afghanistan. The country was once my second home, and I still have friends and colleagues there. Frankly, I am gutted – it is hard to erase the kind of images that emerged from Kabul airport on Monday. Nor should we, this is what desperation looks like
In September of 1996, I along with a group of journalists based in New Delhi, followed the Taliban into Kabul. It was a cold day all round. There were munitions piled high on the side of roads, bloated bodies and destroyed buildings. The corpse of President Mohammad Najibullah had just been cut down
Joe Biden is right to get the United States out of Afghanistan. Even as Kabul has been taken over by the Taliban, the case remains strong that after 20 years, the United States has fought its war in the country.
It is sometimes easy to forget that the president is also commander-in-chief of the US
The American withdrawal from Afghanistan offers some opportunities to Russia – but exposes it to greater uncertainty and risk.
Russia has long been ambivalent about the US/NATO force presence in Afghanistan. On the one hand, Moscow recognised, and valued, the stabilising role they played in the
As districts fall to the Taliban one after another without resistance, the government in Afghanistan has squarely put the blame on Pakistan for the mayhem in the country.
This is because the Afghan officials believe that without help from Pakistan, the Taliban could not possibly takeover
Beijing traditionally looked with discomfort at the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, urging Washington to withdraw. Now, as the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, China has changed tack, criticising the US for the “abrupt” nature of its exit. While not baseless, such criticism
With the US in the process of withdrawing the last of its troops from Afghanistan, it has taken little time for fierce fighting to flare up in several parts of the country, as the Taliban seeks to wrest control from the elected government. Already, it has overrun large swathes of territory and is
With the advance of the Taliban in parts of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of coalition forces, the question of how to help Afghans who worked intimately with Australian forces has become a significant media and political issue. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who dispatched Australian troops to
Bagram airbase, the nerve centre of US and allied forces operations in Afghanistan, turned into a ghost town over the American Independence Day 4 July weekend. Reports indicate that US forces left in the dead of night on 2 July without informing their Afghan counterparts.
Afghans are stunned that
The agreement signed by the United States and the Taliban in February 2020 sought to end America’s (and Australia’s) longest-running war. After nearly two decades of conflict, the US and NATO allies committed to withdrawing all foreign military personnel from Afghanistan. In exchange, the
The Afghan government is fighting for survival as external and internal actors exploit its weaknesses in preparation for a US exit. The latest US initiatives to bring “a responsible end” to the Afghan war will likely have the opposite effect, pushing the Afghan government closer to a knife’s
A recent ban on girls’ public singing has demonstrated the continuing struggle between modernising and conservative forces in Afghanistan. Speculation on social media suggested it might also be a sign of the government testing the public mood of what rights it is prepared to sacrifice in order to
The United States and the Afghan Taliban signed the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” in Doha on 29 February 2020.
Part of the deal was that the US would withdraw all its troops by 1 May 2021 and that the Taliban would not allow “any of its members, other individuals or groups,
The peace agreement between the United States and Taliban signed in Doha last February is likely to be scrapped if the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation unilaterally decide to stay in Afghanistan beyond 1 May, the withdrawal deadline set in the agreement.
With a presence of around 10
Back in 2012, Afghanistan mostly only featured in Australian news bulletins at those moments an Australian soldier was killed. The war was otherwise a story in the background, a feature on the back pages or late in TV bulletins when a journalist could “embed” with the troops. Tempers flared
“China would be welcomed as an arbitrator in negotiations [for peace in Afghanistan] and should not leave matters of such a great importance solely to the US.”
So said Maulana Samiul Haq, the so-called “Father of the Taliban”, in 2018. Peace talks between the Afghan government and the
With an estimated 75 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water annually, Afghanistan is, on paper, a self-sufficient water country. However, the country also “has one of the lowest levels of water storage capacity in the world”. Most of the water from its major river basins such as the Amu,
The reshuffling of the Taliban leadership ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which began this month in Doha, has underscored that the militant group is trying to emerge from Pakistan’s shadow and to bolster its political legitimacy, particularly since the signing of the US-Taliban deal in
In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani outlined what he saw as the objective for his country: “a sovereign, united, democratic Afghanistan at peace with itself, the region and world, capable of preserving and expanding the gains of the past two decades”. For a
The most striking thing about the top Covid-19 treatment facility in Afghanistan is the lack of basic measures preventing the spread of Covid-19.
At the Afghan Japan Communicable Disease Hospital in Kabul last week, security guards at the gate were maskless. So too a taxi driver delivering an
Following meetings this week in Kabul between Afghan President Ashrafi Ghani and senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials, the president’s office stated that the generals conveyed Pakistan’s support for an independent Afghan republic. It could be seen as another positive note in
Last week, Afghanistan’s top two politicians, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, signed a power-sharing agreement in Kabul, ending their eight-month standoff over September’s presidential elections. The deal allows Ghani to remain president, while giving Abdullah control of the top peacemaking
In a Covid-19 world, there is perhaps little that can still shock and surprise. Still, this week’s brutal attack by Afghan insurgents on a clinic in a hospital in Kabul’s western suburb of Dasht-e-Barchi, during the holy month of Ramadan, made for particularly horrific news, given the targets
Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a
Across the world, non-state entities from terrorist groups to drug cartels are taking steps to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has been no exception to the trend. The insurgent group has launched a public-health awareness campaign that both the Afghan Ministry of Public
The coronavirus pandemic has been dominating international news and monopolising the time of governments across the world as they scramble to respond and prepare. In the midst of this it was striking that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo found the time for a flying visit to Afghanistan this week in
A sense of déjà vu prevails in Afghanistan – it’s 2014 again. Only this time, a possible lasting peace is at stake. Hot on the heels of a US-Taliban agreement to trial a seven-day “reduction in violence”, Afghanistan’s political order faces its worst political and constitutional crisis
Albert Einstein warned humanity to beware of rotten compromises. Philosopher Avishai Margalit sought to explain this warning in an entire book. With the US and the Taliban poised to sign a peace agreement, now more than ever is the time to be wary of a “rotten compromise” on Afghanistan.
On a sunny Tuesday in the third week of January, a cargo ship named Diyala docked at Gwadar seaport, in south-west Pakistan. The enthusiastic port staff quickly unloaded the cargo. When the unloading was finished, Chinese officials operating the port, along with their Pakistani counterparts, posed