Domestic Tension in Afghanistan Amidst Potential Peace Talks

There have been numerous violent attacks throughout Afghanistan over the past week, which has led to an increased amount of tension in the nation. The most recent attack took place in the Farah province on November 25th, which was initiated by the Taliban. Some other recent attacks include one at a religious gathering in Kabul on November 20th, and another on an Afghan army base mosque in the Khost province on November 23rd. The increased number and magnitude of these attacks portray the increasing confidence held by many insurgency fighters, specifically within the Taliban. There is coincidentally an international conference occurring on November 27th regarding the peace efforts in Afghanistan, held by the Afghan government and the United Nations in Geneva. This conference comes at a crucial time for the Afghan government, which is struggling to contain the numerous attacks occurring within the nation.

The Taliban-led ambush on November 25th led to the death of twenty-two Afghan police officers, contributing to the growing number of casualties during this week’s violence. The insurgency group targeted a security force convoy in the Lash-e- Joveyn district of the Farah province, which is an Afghan region with a strong Taliban foothold. Reuters reported, “Afghan authorities no longer release detailed figures but U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently confirmed casualties have been running at some 500 a month, a figure many officials in Kabul say understates the real toll.” This high casualty number is coupled with increasing confidence within the Taliban, only furthering the Afghan government’s drive to establish peace talks with the insurgency group.

On November 20th, at least fifty people were killed from a suicide bombing incident that occurred in Kabul. There were hundreds of Muslim clerics that had gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s day of birth, and eighty people were injured according to Afghanistan’s Public Health Ministry. Neither the Taliban nor ISIS have claimed responsibility for this attack yet. There was another explosion on November 23rd in the Khost province of Afghanistan, which it occurred in a mosque within an Afghan army base. The attack specifically targeted the second regiment of the Afghan national army, and they were conducting their Friday prayers inside the base at the time. Twenty-six people were killed in the incident, and there were over fifty people injured as well. There has not been official confirmation regarding the nature of the attack; it may have been carried out by a suicide bomber, or by means of a remotely detonated bomb.

The Afghan government and United Nations- held conference on November 27th will determine the success of the aid efforts that Afghanistan has received from the international community over the past several years. Many nations have contributed to helping Afghanistan in its endeavors to resolve the violence within the country, whether it be monetary support or security forces. While there will not be a Taliban representative attending this meeting, a member stated, “We hope the international leaders accept our demands and put pressure on the U.S. to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan… Otherwise the conference will hold little significance.” This meeting coincides with U.S. President Trump’s efforts to establish a peace deal with the Taliban, which the Afghan government is not involved with at the group’s insistence. While there is increased discussion over peace talks with the Taliban, these developments come at a time of great tension within Afghanistan with the numerous attacks this week. These incidents show the necessity of a peace deal with the Taliban and other violent actors in Afghanistan, as the casualty numbers will only increase until there is a consensus reached.