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 them.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan which is located in Southern Asia. 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 against drugs.
- Also see AbbreviationFinder.org for Afghanistan country abbreviations, including geography, history, economy and politics.
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 reformed.
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 injured.