Afghanistan. During the first half of the year
preparatory peace talks were held between representatives of
Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States on the
possibilities for a new peace process for Afghanistan. As
expected, the Taliban opposed the talks and announced that
they were not prepared to negotiate until all foreign
soldiers had left the country and the attacks on the Taliban
militia ceased. With reference to the sensitive security
situation, the US, contrary to the wishes of the Taliban,
announced that the country would increase its efforts in
Afghanistan and that a larger number of US soldiers than
previously planned would remain in 2017 as well.
to countryaah, the current population of Afghanistan is 38,928,357.
There were continued attacks directed at the civilian
population, but also against political and strategic goals,
such as journalists and officials in the police force and
the state administration. Government forces fought battles
against both Taliban and Islamic State (IS) members, who
took control of several areas and created great uncertainty
and concern. In May, Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour was
killed in a US drone attack in the Pakistani province of
Baluchistan. The Taliban then appointed Haibatullah
Akhundzada as new leader of the movement, which occupied
several important provincial cities during the year. Later
in the summer, it was announced that the IS leader in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mawlavi Shahidullah Shahid, had
also been killed in a US drone attack.
During the year, there were reports that the number of
deaths in the Afghan army increased sharply compared to the
previous year. According to the UN, the number of civilian
victims also increased, which was mainly due to more
fighting and attacks taking place in populated areas and
cities. The United Nations Organization for Afghanistan,
UNAMA, announced that nearly a third of the victims were
children. The Taliban were behind the largest proportion of
deaths, but even the domestic army and foreign forces were
involved in several deadly attacks.
During the spring, several terrorist acts took place,
including what was described as the worst attack in the
capital Kabul so far, where suicide bombers attacked a
popular protest with participants from the Hazar group. The
attack killed at least 80 people and 260 were injured.
President Ashraf Ghani announced that the government would
bring in the hard gloves against the Taliban, and the
president approved for the first time since taking office in
2014 that six prisoners with links to the Taliban movement
should be executed.
In June, the Afghan Parliament approved the president's
proposal for a new defense minister and head of the
intelligence service, two key posts that have been vacant
for months. Later in the autumn, three government ministers
were forced to resign following a vote of no confidence in
Parliament. Among the outgoing ministers were other Foreign
Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.
In just a few weeks in August, about 30,000 people were
forced to flee in the southern Helmand province, which was
surrounded by Taliban. US forces were sent to Helmand to
support the Afghan army fighting back Taliban attacks on
provincial capital Lashkar Gah. During the year, a large
number of Afghan soldiers and Taliban police officers were
killed in the Helmand province. The humanitarian situation
was strained and there were no supplies. At the end of the
year, most of the Helmand province was said to be under
Taliban control. Helmand is the country's leading opium
producer and an important source of income for the Taliban
At a donor conference in Brussels in October, Afghanistan
was promised multibillion aid. The conference, jointly
organized by the EU and the Government of Afghanistan,
involved 75 countries and 26 international organizations and
bodies. In return, the Afghan government presented an
ambitious reform program for the next four years. In
conjunction with the conference, the regime also signed an
agreement in principle with the EU to return refugees who
have refused their asylum applications in EU countries. A
separate agreement was signed with Sweden according to which
Afghanistan undertakes to receive Afghans who have not
received their asylum applications. The agreement was met by
harsh criticism from the children's rights organization Save
the Children, which said it was against international
conventions to send children back to Afghanistan where they
were at risk of serious human rights violations.
Afghans are the second largest group of asylum seekers in
both the EU and Sweden. In the neighboring country,
according to the UN, there were 1.3 million registered and
700,000 unregistered Afghan refugees during the year.
Because of an increasingly tough refugee policy in Pakistan,
many were forced back to Afghanistan, where aid
organizations warned that the country would not be able to
receive all returnees. The number of people fleeing the
country increased during the autumn from 1.2 to 1.8 million.
In an American air raid in the city of Kunduz in October,
at least 30 civilians were killed, including many children.
The attack was reportedly misdirected and an investigation
was initiated to find out what had happened. A week later
the Taliban attacked the German consulate in Mazar-e Sharif
in the north. Six people were killed and at least 120 were
injured in the attack, which was said to be a revenge
campaign for the Americans' air strike in Kunduz.