• Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley: The Last Stronghold of Resistance to Taliban Rule

    By Kaweh Kerami

    Panjshir Valley, nearly 150km north of Kabul, is home to a largely ethnic Tajik population and through four decades of civil war and Taliban insurgency has been a center of resistance. Panjshir resisted the Soviet invasion in the 1980s and Taliban rule during the late 1990s. In the past 20 years, it was the only province that the predominantly ethnic Pashtun Taliban seemed unable to penetrate. The fate of Panjshir is consequential not only for anti-Taliban resistance forces but also for the stability and security of Afghanistan, the region and the west.

  • China’s Response to the Taliban’s Takeover

    “The primary interest for China in Afghanistan is ensuring stability so that no unrest would spill over into the wider region and China in particular. In this sense, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has been a positive for China as it has played the security role at no cost to China. Now, China will have to develop its own relationships with the Taliban,” says Harvard’s China expert Tony Saich.

  • Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley Remains Out of Taliban's Reach

    By Rodion Ebbighausen

    The Panjshir Valley is Afghanistan’s last remaining holdout where anti-Taliban forces seem to be working on forming a guerrilla movement to take on the Islamic fundamentalist group.

  • Joe Biden's Disgrace and the Tragedy of Afghanistan

    Twenty years ago, Islamist terrorists, trained under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, attacked the United States, killing nearly 3,000. The Biden administration is withdrawing all American forces from Afghanistan, and the country will again be ruled by the Taliban. This withdrawal was unnecessary.

  • Learning the Right Lessons from Afghanistan

    Gregory Treverton, former Chair of U.S. National Intelligence Council, writes that “The main lesson of Afghanistan should be an easy one by now, after the sweep of events from Vietnam to Iraq: nation-building requires a nation, or at least a competent, committed government. America’s signal successes at nation-building were nation-rebuilding, in the instances of Germany and Japan. It is not just that nation-building is hard, and we don’t do it very well. In Afghanistan there was never any nation to rebuild, only a collection of warring tribes, clans, and sects.”

  • Afghan troops sought safety in numbers – igniting a cascade of surrender

    By Todd Lehmann

    Throughout the conflict, the perennial emphasis on a U.S.“exit strategy” meant U.S. politicians always focused on whether it was time to leave yet. For 20 years, U.S. efforts focused on short-term thinking and problem-solving that shifted both military and political goals over time, rather than investing the time and effort to develop a comprehensive long-term strategy for the war.

  • Taliban Return to Power: Fears of Al-Qaeda Resurgence

    The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan is stoking renewed fear of a resurgence in terrorism from al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups. The group has retained close ties with the Taliban, raising the prospect that it will once again be offered a safe haven on Afghan soil to plot and launch attacks against western targets.

  • Taliban to Gain Control over $1 trillion Mineral Wealth

    By Nik Martin

    To date, the Taliban have profited from the opium and heroin trade. Now the Islamist group effectively rules a country with valuable resources that China needs to grow its economy. Afghanistan’s mineral riches will also bolster China’s dominance in rare Earth elements.

  • Collapse in Afghanistan: Early Insights from Experts

    The sudden end to America’s longest war came Sunday as the Taliban rolled into the capital of Afghanistan and the national government collapsed. Thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghans who worked for Americans are waiting to be evacuated. U.S. troops are at the Kabul airport to keep flights going. RAND experts offer explanations.

  • Why Did a Military Superpower Fail in Afghanistan?

    By Arie Perliger

    The criticisms of President Joe Biden’s decision to end U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and of the withdrawal’s logistics, while valid, may be beside the point. There are more fundamental problems with the United States’ strategy in the 20-year war, of which the current chaos is only the latest manifestation. They stem from an approach in which military seizures of territory are intended to fight international extremist movements and ideologies, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The clear conclusion from all the evidence is that military intervention should be focused on military objectives, and should not diverge into political or social engineering.

  • How the Afghan Army Collapsed Under the Taliban’s Pressure

    By Max Boot

    Despite having larger numbers and better equipment than the Taliban, Afghan forces were never strong enough to sustain government control in the absence of U.S. firepower.

  • How Has the Terrorism Threat Changed Twenty Years After 9/11?

    By Bruce Hoffman

    The U.S. counterterrorism response to the September 11, 2001, attacks yielded some remarkable successes and disastrous failures in hunting al-Qaeda. The top terrorist threat today, though, is domestic rather than foreign.

  • What Went Wrong for the U.S. in Afghanistan

    The Biden administration’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan is an admission that the United States has failed in its costly war in Afghanistan. Why has the United States failed? Jason K. Dempsey, who was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 2009 “surge,” writes that “Luckily for those…. wondering how all the heroism [of American soldiers in Afghanistan] led to an overall outcome in Afghanistan that fell far short of U.S. aspirations, there are two new books that seek to make sense of the war.”

  • U.K. Top General: Western Powers Must Retaliate for Iran’s Drone Strike on Oil Tanker

    By Jamie Dettmer

    General Nick Carter, chief of the British Defense Staff, said Western powers need to retaliate for an Iranian drone strike on an oil tanker, which killed a British security guard and the ship’s Romanian captain. “What we need to be doing, fundamentally, is calling out Iran for its very reckless behavior,” he said.

  • Iran’s Strategic Challenge to Israel

    In a report prepared for the newly elected president of Israel, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) highlights the main strategic challenges facing Israel and policy recommendations for addressing those challenges.