By Richard Weitz
September 3, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The revelations that Russian intelligence may have hired criminals to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan underscores the complex nature of Moscow’s Afghan policies. Though what happened or why remains disputed, the reports highlight the Russian government’s weak tools for shaping the future of Afghanistan despite the country’s pivotal place in Russia’s Eurasian agenda.
By Niranjan Marjani
July 23, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The U.S.-Taliban deal has generated large amounts of analysis on stability and security in Afghanistan, the role of the Afghan government and Pakistan-Taliban relations. However, another important dimension of the deal is its impact on Iran-Pakistan relations. Pakistan’s relations with both Iran and the Afghan government are unstable, but Pakistan enjoys good relations with the Taliban. Iran has also sought to build contacts and relations with the Taliban. Thus, the recognition accorded to the Taliban in the deal could both improve Iran-Pakistan relations and give Iran an important role in Afghanistan. The increasing significance of the Taliban could worsen instability not only in Afghanistan but also across Central, West and South Asia while completely sidelining the Afghan government.
By Umair Jamal
July 21, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The growth of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Afghanistan poses a formidable challenge to India and Pakistan’s security interests in the region. Recently, an ISIS-claimed attack on a Sikh Gurudwara in Afghanistan involved a suicide bomber from India. On April 4, Afghan security forces arrested a Pakistani national and a high-ranking ISIS commander in Afghanistan, who authorized the Gurudwara attack. Reports indicate that ISIS is rapidly gaining recruits from India and Pakistan for its Afghanistan and Central Asia operations. The emerging threat in this regard would require close counterterrorism cooperation between Islamabad and New Delhi if the group is to be successfully defeated in Afghanistan. However, given Pakistan and India’s competition and record of undermining each other’s interests in Afghanistan, ISIS is set to gain exponentially in the coming months.
By Umair Jamal
July 15, 2020, the CACI Analyst
After a months-long bitter election dispute, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, agreed in May to a power-sharing formula to form an inclusive government. Essentially, the agreement ended a political crisis that led to Ghani and Abdullah declaring parallel governments and threatened the ongoing international effort, spearheaded by the U.S., to negotiate a peace accord with the Afghan Taliban. While an agreement between Ghani and Abdullah is a welcome move, Afghanistan has been at this stage before. The current setup poses challenges to negotiations with the Taliban, dealing with external pressure to deliver on the U.S.-Taliban peace deal and managing underlying ethnic divisions that threaten the current regime.
By Stephen Blank
July 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The revelations that Moscow paid Taliban warriors bounties to kill U.S., British, and other allied soldiers in Afghanistan is already generating a scandal in the United States. Yet for those who closely monitor Russian foreign policy in Central Asia and Afghanistan, this represents a particularly grisly escalation of policy but not a change in strategy. Moscow has long been determined to enhance its position with the Taliban and accelerate the ejection of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which it regards as a threat to its position in Central Asia and to Russia. In Moscow’s imagination, the presence of several U.S. and/or NATO airbases in Afghanistan could strike Russian targets in Central Asia. Moreover, Russia has consistently expressed a visceral reaction to the presence of foreign military forces, especially Western ones, in and around Central Asia.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.