Afghanistan. Although several talks were held during the
year between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement,
the security situation deteriorated further.
In the first half of the year alone, 5,000 people were
reported killed in various attacks. After three months of
negotiations, President Ashraf Ghani in January presented a
proposal for a new government consisting of 25 ministers.
The prolonged formation of government was mainly due to the
fact that Ghani and the former defense minister Abdullah
Abdullah, who lost the election last year, spent several
months trying to agree on the division of power between
to COUNTRYAAH, the government proposal first met with opposition in
Parliament, which rejected many of the ministers because
they had dual citizenship. Only in April was the new
government approved, consisting of four women and 20 men.
The female ministers were given responsibility for
education, women's issues, labor market policy and the fight
However, the post of Defense Minister, which has created
great political disagreement in Parliament, remained vacant.
In April, parliamentary elections would have been held but
this was canceled due to the security situation and
disagreements over how the electoral system would be
During the year, the Islamic State terrorist group (IS)
gained a stronger foothold in large parts of the country,
especially in the south of the province of Helmand. IS loyal
militias were reported to be active in 25 of the country's
34 provinces. During the summer several suicide attacks
occurred and violence in the capital Kabul was described as
the worst in several years. The UN Human Rights Department
in Afghanistan stated that 70% of all civilian deaths had
been killed by rebel groups. More and more women and
children were reported to belong to the dead.
In late September, the Taliban occupied large parts of
Kunduz in the north, which was the first time since the war
began in 2001 that the Taliban managed to take control of a
provincial capital. Shortly thereafter, with the support of,
among other things, the US Air Force, the army launched a
counter-offensive against the Taliban. In the fall, too, the
recently formed NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM)
operation joined the Kunduz fighting that has been going on
since April when the Taliban made their first attempt to
occupy the strategically important city, from which tens of
thousands of residents had to flee in a very short time..
In October, American flight bombed an emergency hospital
in Kunduz, operated by MSF. Thirty people were killed in the
attack, which resulted in MSF leaving the province and
demanding that an international investigation be launched.
Earlier in the spring, informal talks were held in
Qatar's capital Doha between the government and the Taliban,
announcing that they were not prepared to lay down weapons
until all foreign troops had completely left the country.
Contrary to previous withdrawal plans, US President Barack
Obama announced that the US military would remain in
Afghanistan because of the precarious security situation.
Obama justified the decision that the Afghan army was not
considered sufficiently equipped to meet the security policy
challenges on its own.
During the fall, the US forces received criticism from
the International Criminal Court (ICC), which said that
foreign forces from the US, for example, had committed both
physical and mental abuse against Afghan prisoners. The
following month, informal talks were held in Oslo between
the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government.
An incident that caused great upheaval both inside and
outside the country happened in March when a woman was
beaten to death by a crowd outside a mosque in Kabul. The
reason for the public lynching was that the woman had been
accused of burning a copy of the Qur'an without any evidence
to prove it. After the deed, 26 men were tried and eight of
them were later sentenced to 16 years in prison each for
murder. Eleven police officers were also sentenced to one
year in prison. At the woman's funeral, witnessed by
hundreds of people, the coffin was carried by other women -
a clear protest action in patriarchal Afghanistan. The
lawsuit later received criticism from the human rights
organization Human Rights Watch for going too fast and for
being unfair as several of the defendants did not have
access to lawyers.
At the end of July, information came from Afghan
government sources that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar
was dead. Omar, who was the supreme leader of the Taliban
and thus one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, was
reported to have died in a hospital in Pakistan two to three
years earlier. Earlier in the year, the Taliban had released
a biography of Omar, which was interpreted as a way to limit
the widespread speculation about his death, thereby halting
the increasingly frequent dropouts from the Taliban movement
to IS. Omar's successor was elected mullah Akhtar Mansour.
During the winter, several severe earthquakes occurred in
mountainous areas in the northeast, at the border with
Pakistan. In one of the quakes, which also affected India
and Pakistan, about 30 Afghans were killed and 200 injured.
In December, at least 50 people were killed when a
Taliban force attacked Kandahar Airport in the southern part
of the country, where NATO and the Afghan forces had a joint
military base. Several families living in the area were
taken hostage, and only after two days did the Afghan
military defeat the Taliban.
In the same month, fighting between government forces and
Taliban intensified in the opium-rich province of Helmand,
where 90 soldiers were killed in just two days of fighting.
At the end of the month, the Taliban almost completely took
control of the strategically important district of Sangin in
Helmand. According to the US Department of Defense, the
security situation deteriorated sharply during the latter
part of the year, with an increased number of killed and