Thursday 21 Oct 2021 | 23:33 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Afghanistan

Yemen: the search for leverage after Afghanistan

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 (

An Afghan test leaves Australia’s principles wanting

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 evolving Taliban-ISK rivalry

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

Economic diplomacy: After Kabul, Australia looks to India

Suitcase intelligence 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

Afghanistan holds lessons for American power in Asia

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

India fears a poison harvest from Afghanistan

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

The world must evacuate women police in Afghanistan

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

Decoding intelligence on Afghanistan

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 to do after the Taliban take-over

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

Kabul has fallen and so have we

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

Afghanistan: the right time to leave

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

Afghanistan: Russia faces its own risks and uncertainty

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

Is Pakistan fuelling a Taliban takeover?

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

China’s Afghan conundrum

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

Another proxy war in Afghanistan?

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

Afghanistan, Australia and the visa conundrum

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

Abandoning Afghanistan won’t bring peace

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

An interim government would bring ruin to Afghanistan

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

Afghanistan: To leave or not to leave

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

Can China be a peacemaker in Afghanistan?

“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

For real peace, Afghanistan needs a Plan B

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

Afghanistan’s unseen Covid crisis

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

In Afghanistan, one step forward, but peace still a far leap

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

The Taliban’s empty promises of peace

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

With US Afghan exit, Russia eyes Central Asian security

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

In Afghanistan, peace or fragmentation?

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

A US-Taliban deal: What price for peace?

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.

Afghan transit a game changer for Gwadar port

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

Afghan peace is elusive but not impossible

The need for a negotiated withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has increased in urgency after the Washington Post this week published an explosive article outlining the “Afghanistan Papers”, which documents that the US government long has concluded its efforts in Afghanistan were futile and

Afghan elections bring no peace

Afghans went to the polls on 28 September, but preliminary results from the presidential elections, originally due for 19 October, were pushed back to 14 November, only to be postponed again. Officials from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) cited technical issues as the reason for the delay

The uncertain fate of Islamic State in Pakistan

On 26 October, the infamous caliph of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who rose to prominence in 2014 when he announced the creation of the caliphate of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was killed in Northern Syria. Two days later, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, spokesperson and deputy of al-

Afghanistan: Water management for peace

In the optimistic view, Afghanistan is closer to peace today than at any time in the past decades. The presidential election last weekend may have been hampered by low turnout, and US negotiations with the Taliban have halted, but one of the factors which can significantly contribute to maintaining

Afghanistan – what’s next?

Ten days ago, US President Donald Trump called off negotiations with the Taliban about withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, widely expected to be followed by intra-Afghanistan peace talks, which Norway hoped to host and President Ashraf Ghani had begun to prepare for by selecting a negotiation

Not such a great game

Staying true to his reputation for unpredictability, US President Donald Trump suddenly called off the Afghanistan peace negotiations with the Taliban last Saturday – a major policy decision announced, predictably, in a tweet. Trump cited continued Taliban attacks on US personnel as the reason for

Trump bets on Pakistan to deliver peace in Afghanistan

Last month’s Oval Office meeting with US President Donald Trump was Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first US visit since taking office in August last year. During the meeting, Trump hinted at resuming aid to Pakistan, as well as making a broader and surprising offer to mediate between

Pages