Increased Violence and Instability in Afghanistan

Increased Violence and Instability in Afghanistan

Growing violence and instability in Afghanistan resulting from the drawdown of coalition forces and/or contested national elections


In the wake of the drawdown, Taliban attacks may increase the levels of violence and exacerbate internal instability. The United States intends to keep a residual force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan for one year after combat operations end in 2014 and will reduce to a small military presence at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul by 2016. The Afghanistan National Security Forces, due to assume security responsibilities from the United States and the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) by the end of the year, are sorely lacking in logistics, intelligence gathering, and other capacities.

Since declaring its annual offensive last spring, the Taliban has had one of their most successful fighting seasons since the beginning of the war, and ANSF are reeling from heavy casualties, a high desertion rate, and poor morale. The Afghan economy has been battered by uncertainty surrounding the 2014 elections and rising unemployment, and the country is in desperate need of emergency financing from the United States and other donors.

Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election resulted in political deadlock, requiring two rounds of voting and an international audit to address allegations of voter fraud. In early September, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brokered an agreement to form a national unity government led by Ashraf Ghani as president and Abdullah Abdullah as chief executive. Now Ghani and Abdullah will have to confront the challenges of jointly governing a country that in many ways is worse off than it was before the campaign began last February.

Afghan governance remains weak and corrupt, hindering international efforts to strengthen the rule of law. Internal instability in Afghanistan could have larger regional ramifications as Pakistan, India, Iran, and Russia compete for influence in Kabul and among influential subnational actors.

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