In testimony to the European Parliament about efforts to end the war in Afghanistan, Crisis Group expert Andrew Watkins describes the current scale of fighting, Taliban policies and how outside actors can support the peace process.
Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Afghanistan, Andrew Watkins, testified to the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Afghanistan on 12 February 2021 about how to judge the current state of the conflict, what he sees as the Taliban’s perspectives on peace efforts and how this should inform how the international community can best support the process.
Watkins notes that Afghanistan’s war has seen measurable changes in the intensity of the conflict, which have led to some drop in casualties, but it remains one of the most violent in the world. Taliban use of suicide vehicle bombings halted for a time, but was gradually resumed, and the group’s traditional assaults on provincial centres were replaced by a campaign of targeted individual killings. He explains dynamics among the Taliban that shape their views on reducing violence and ending the war, a far cry from the ceasefire that the world expected after the 2020 deal between the U.S. and the Taliban. He says that the group are the aggressors in the conflict today, and that current levels of violence are no foundation for a lasting peace process.