Region

“The US’s Greatest Strategic Failure”: Steve Coll on the CIA and the ISI

“Directorate S” is Steve Coll’s second major study of the CIA’s role in recent Afghan wars. While “Ghost Wars” chronicled the years 1979-2001, “Directorate S” – referring to a subdivision of Pakistan’s inter-services intelligence directorate that covers Afghanistan – takes up the story in 2001 and follows it through to 2016. AAN Advisory Board member […]

Climbing on China’s Priority List: Views on Afghanistan from Beijing

Since the never completed withdrawal of NATO troops in Afghanistan, China has become more involved in one of its most conflictive neighbour’s affairs. It has offered to connect the country with its multi-billion dollar project, the Belt and Road Initiative, which includes the so-called Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor. AAN’s co-director Thomas Ruttig has found – after […]

Tilting at Windmills: Dubious US claims of targeting Chinese Uyghur militants in Badakhshan

In early February 2018, US forces conducted airstrikes in Afghanistan’s north-eastern province of Badakhshan, supposedly targeting ‘support structures’ of the ‘East Turkistan Islamic Movement’ (ETIM), allegedly a group of Uyghur extremists hailing from China’s far west said to be focused on attacking the Chinese state. (1) United States Forces – Afghanistan claimed the strikes targeted […]

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 […]

Chechens in Afghanistan 3 (Flash from the Past): Diplomats, yes, but fighters?

Following the authoritative account of Chechens – or rather lack of Chechens – in Afghanistan by Christian Bleuer, and how they have frequently been reported on, but rarely encountered, AAN’s Kate Clark here describes her own experiences with Chechens in 2000. In January of that year, she reported on the opening of a Chechen embassy […]

Chechens in Afghanistan 2: How to identify a Chechen

Researchers focusing on Chechen issues point to clear evidence that many Chechens are fighting in Syria, but roundly reject the notion of a Chechen presence in Afghanistan. In the first part of his special two-parter, Christian Bleuer looked at how Chechens became a battlefield myth for western soldiers and a tool for Afghan and US […]

Chechens in Afghanistan 1: A Battlefield Myth That Will Not Die

 In 2001, as the United States and other allied military forces attacked Taleban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, numerous soldiers, journalists and Afghans allied to the Americans relayed stories of a fearless and deadly opponent, incomparably worse than any other enemy: the Chechen. Such reports have never gone away, despite no Chechen having ever been […]

The Crowded-Out Conflict: Pakistan’s Balochistan in its fifth round of insurgency

In the international discussion on Pakistan´s many problems, the low-level conflict in its Balochistan province does not get much attention. The issue of nuclear arms, for instance, is considered more immediately frightening; Balochistan is just the area where these arms are tested. But the province is also the arena for a long-standing, complex and multi-faceted […]

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