ISW Senior Research Analyst Jeffrey Dressler discusses the possibility of French withdrawal from Afghanistan following the deadly shooting.
ISIS Wilayat Khorasan may be developing a regional powerbase in northwestern Afghanistan. Former Taliban militants operating in the name of ISIS executed international aid workers and held others captive in a prison in Jowzjan Province in February 2017, a step change in ISIS’s operations in Afghanistan.
Taliban militants’ military successes during their 2016 campaign, Operation Omari demonstrate requirements for U.S. policy in Afghanistan. The ANSF is incapable of securing major population centers like Lashkar Gah or Kunduz cities or increasing government-controlled territory without significant U.S. support. The ANSF remains highly dependent on current levels of U.S. support to regenerate units and secure government-controlled territory. Resolute Support Commander General John Nicholson stated on September 23 that the Afghan government controls or heavily influences 68- 70% of the population, and Taliban militants control 10% of the population, leaving roughly a quarter of the country contested. The continued expansion of ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan allows global extremist networks like al Qaeda and ISIS and their allies to carve out sanctuaries from which to target the U.S. and its national security interests.
Taliban militants are successfully expanding their territorial control across several regions of Afghanistan during their 2016 summer offensive, Operation Omari. The ANSF’s counter-offensive, Operation Shafaq has repulsed individual Taliban operations, such as the August offensive to isolate Helmand’s provincial capital, but the ANSF remain unprepared and under-resourced to conduct operations in more than one region simultaneously, despite NATO and U.S. assistance.
President Obama announced on July 6 that the U.S. will maintain 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the end of January 2017 instead of the planned drawdown to 5,500. He then stated that the only way to achieve a full drawdown of forces is to reach a peaceful political settlement between Taliban militants and the Afghan government.
The ANSF is unprepared to counter the Taliban militants’ summer campaign. Northern warlords will take advantage of Taliban militants’ gains to establish themselves as security providers and gain leverage against the fragile National Unity Government.
Dina Shahrokhi is the Research and Production Manager at the Institute for the Study of War. At ISW, she helps guide the work of the analysts and research team as they analyze some of the most pressing conflicts facing the world today. From ISIS to the Syrian civil war to the increasingly assertive role of Russia in the Middle East, Ms. Shahrokhi helps ensure that ISW's research products are thoroughly researched, edited, and the production managed to ensure timely publication of ISW insights.
Security in Afghanistan has been deteriorating since U.S. force levels dropped from a high of 100,000 in 2011 to the current force size of 9,800 they reached in June 2014. Lt. Gen. John W. “Mick” Nicholson, the incoming commander of Operation Resolute Support and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, agreed with the remark that “the security situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating rather than improving” in a Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing on January 28.
Security in Afghanistan has been deteriorating since U.S. force levels dropped from a high of 100,000 in 2011 to the current force size of 9,800 they reached in June 2014. Lt. Gen. John W. “Mick” Nicholson, the incoming commander of Operation Resolute Support and U.S.
This map partially depicts areas of Taliban control and support and ISIS presence across Afghanistan as of December 10, 2015 as well as the status of district centers that have been attacked by Taliban militants in 2015. ISW will update this map as ground conditions change and as analysts continue to assess support zones.