Afghanistan is, according to the constitution, an Islamic republic and no laws are allowed to conflict with the teachings and customs of Islam. Strictly speaking, all Afghans are Muslims and most belong to Islam’s main Sunni. Nearly a fifth are Shia Muslims. There are also very small groups of Hindus, Sikhs and Jews.
Adherents to other faiths are guaranteed the right to freely practice their religion, but in practice are forced to observe some discretion. Conversion from Islam to other religions is not tolerated and can be punished with death.
Afghan society is conservative and tradition-bound and everyday life is permeated by religion. Among the Sunnis, Sufic sects strongly influence (Sufism = Islamic mysticism). Sacred worship and belief in magical healing are common.
When the literal Taliban movement undermined most of the country in the mid-1990s, the practice of religion gained a sense of coercion. The Taliban are strongly influenced by the conservative Saudi Wahhabitual interpretation of Islam and counteract the Sufic traditions. Most Shi’ites are found among the Hazarans in central Afghanistan and Kabul, the Tajiks in the northeast, and the small qizilbash ethnic group in the Kabul area.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Afghanistan, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Even after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the Conservative Religious Ulema Council has a great influence and, among other things, influences courts to follow a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.
Many attacks against health care despite pandemics
The UN mission accuses the Taliban and the Afghan forces of intentionally attacking medical personnel and care facilities in the midst of the corona pandemic. Unama has registered twelve acts of violence against the health service between May 11 and May 23. Eight of the attacks were carried out by the Taliban, three by the Afghan forces. The twelfth attack, the one against a hospital for childbirth and maternity care in Kabul on May 12, has not yet taken off. At that time, 25 people were killed, including 16 new mothers, according to Doctors Without Borders. The relief organization later announced that it was leaving Afghanistan for fear that similar attacks would occur again.
“US force almost halved”
US Supreme Commander in Afghanistan, General Kenneth McKenzie, says the US has reduced its military presence in Afghanistan to about 8,600 soldiers. This is the level set in the agreement with the Taliban (see February 2020). Under the agreement, the United States would reduce its forces from 12,000 to 8,600 men by mid-July. Under the agreement, all foreign troops must have left Afghanistan by mid-2021.
The level of violence is rising
The Taliban has killed or injured 422 Afghan soldiers in the past week, the Interior Ministry said. The resistance movement has also killed 89 civilians and injured 150 in the past two weeks. According to the Home Office, the Taliban are currently carrying out over 60 violent assaults every day. The level of violence in the country fell after the Taliban announced three days of ceasefire on May 24 to mark the holiday of al-fitr, but since then the attacks from them have again increased significantly. The government says the Taliban are stepping up the violence ahead of imminent peace talks. The Taliban confirm that they are carrying out attacks on the Afghan military but say the figures are lower than the government indicates. The Taliban are reacting, among other things, to the fact that the Ghani government has so far released only 3,000 of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners stipulated by the February agreement.
US warns of sanctions against ICC
The United States warns of US sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) who initiate preliminary investigations or prosecute American soldiers. In doing so, the United States is increasing pressure on those who want to try the US forces for war crimes in Afghanistan. The sanctions mean that all US assets are frozen for people investigating or prosecuting US military in the ICC.
Promises of truce and imprisonment
The Taliban movement announces a three-day ceasefire during the Eid al-fitr holiday. The Ghani government responds by announcing a ceasefire during the same period and launching a process to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners.
Power sharing agreement
President Ghani and his political rival Abdullah sign a power-sharing agreement after months of power struggle. Through the settlement, Abdullah, who lost the presidential election against Ghani but has questioned the archdiocese’s election victory, heads the High Council of National Reconciliation, whose job is to lead future peace talks with the Taliban. Abdullah appoints the other members of the Council, who, together with Abdullah, get a seat in the government of Ghana. This means that Abdullah may appoint half of the prime ministers. The power-sharing agreement comes after strong pressure from the US.
Ghani commands military offensive
President Ghani accuses the Taliban and Islamic State (IS) of terrorist attacks against a hospital in Kabul and a funeral in eastern Afghanistan. He orders the military to resume its offensive against all resistance groups.
Twenty-four are killed in action against hospitals
Three armed perpetrators storm a hospital in western Kabul, where the city’s Shiite Muslim minority lives. Twenty-four people are killed, including newborn babies, newborn mothers, and caregivers. Sixteen people are injured in the atrocity. More than 80 people can be rescued from the scene by special forces. The Islamic State (IS) has a history of attacking Shia Muslims, and a domestic IS faithful group takes on the deed. Auxiliary organization Doctors Without Borders runs the maternity and childbirth department at the affected hospital.
Suicide bombing against burial
At least 32 mourners are killed and several injured when a funeral corps is attacked by a suicide bomber in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. The people have gathered to say goodbye to a local police officer. The assailant blows his belt in the middle of the ceremony. No group or person is doing the deed, but President Ghani is accusing the Taliban or Islamic State (IS) of being behind it.
The death of migrants is being investigated
President Ghani is launching an investigation into an incident that occurred at the Iranian border in early May. Iranian border guards are accused of forcing Afghans into a border flood and at least 18 people have since been found drowned. The migrants must have been on their way to enter Iran without permission. Iran has dismissed the allegations, which also deal with ill-treatment. Many Afghans work as day laborers on construction in Iran. When the corona pandemic erupted, tens of thousands of Afghans returned home, but they have begun to look back after Iran’s pandemic restrictions were eased.
The change of catching proceeds slowly
The Kabul government has released 933 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban have been handing 132 prisoners to the Afghan authorities since February 29, when the US and Taliban signed the peace treaty. This is what spokesmen for the Taliban and for the Afghan authorities said. According to the peace agreement, the government is to release 5,000 prisoners and the Taliban 1,000. The prison exchange extends over time, partly because the Taliban require prisoners who have had leadership roles in the movement to be released.
Terror networks are blowing up
Afghan security service NDS writes in a statement that it blasted a combined Haqqani and IS network suspected of being behind several terrorist acts in and around Kabul, including the attack on a Sikh temple (see March 2020) and a grenade attack on the ceremony when Ghani swore presidential speech (see March 2020). Five members of the network were killed and eight arrested when security forces stormed two of the terrorists’ hideouts, one in Kabul and one outside the capital. The Haqqani network denies all contact with IS.
The US stops publishing information on air strikes
The US Air Force announces that it will cease publishing regular reports on the US air strikes in Afghanistan. The reason is that the US diplomatic force fears that the information could affect ongoing talks with the Taliban, a US Air Force spokesman said.
Emergency loans from the IMF
The IMF grants Afghanistan $ 220 million in emergency loans to better cope with the serious economic impact of the corona pandemic. Both poverty and unemployment are expected to rise sharply in 2020. The loans are interest-free and can be paid off in ten years. The first installment is due after no later than 5.5 years. The money will go towards increased funding for health care and support for the country’s poorest households.
Mass anesthesia for prisoners
President Ghani decides to release about 12,400 prisoners to reduce the risk of spreading the corona virus in prisons. Along with 10,000 prisoners recently released for the same reason, 60 percent of prisoners in the country will have been released. The amnesties have nothing to do with the interchange between Kabul and the Taliban, the government stresses.
The violence is escalating
A new wave of violence sweeps across Afghanistan. It replaces a calmer period that began after the Doha agreement was signed between the United States and the Taliban (see February 2020). The escalation of violence is happening at the same time as Afghanistan is increasingly hit by the corona pandemic. According to the Doha agreement, the exchange of catches between the Taliban and the Kabul government would have been fully implemented at this time and negotiations on a ceasefire would have begun. None of this has been realized. During the night, the Taliban attack an Afghan military base in the province of Takhar in the northeast, killing 16 soldiers and two policemen, local police chief reports. The governor’s spokesman confirms the attack, saying the death toll is 19. At the same time, three policemen are killed when Taliban attack a police post in the Uruzgan province in the south. In the Balkh province in the north, nine civilians have been killed since they resisted Taliban attempts to blackmail them, according to the district governor. The Taliban do not confirm the information but have previously expressed strong dissatisfaction that their fighters are still being attacked by both US and Afghan forces. According to the Taliban, US and Afghan soldiers have carried out 50 attacks against them since the agreement was signed in February.
Taliban release prisoners
The Taliban release 20 prisoners from the government side. The released are reported to belong to the country’s security forces. By then, the Afghan government has managed to release 361 lower-ranking Taliban fighters from their prisons. The risk of spreading the coronavirus among the interns in the overcrowded prisons is reported to speed up prisoner exchange.
Hundreds of imprisoned Taliban are released
The government in Kabul releases 100 Taliban low-risk prisoners, but the 15 top commanders demanded by the Taliban are not included in the group. The releases are made the day after the Taliban left the prisoner exchange negotiations because they found them “fruitless”.
Taliban leave talks with Kabul
The Taliban are withdrawing from negotiations with the Afghan government for a prisoner exchange. The movement says that the discussions are “fruitless” as the counterpart constantly delays the exchange of prisoners with different kinds of pretenses every time. According to the Kabul government, the talks have dragged on over time as the Taliban are adhering to a demand that 15 of their highest military command be among the released. The talks began at the end of March but should have been initiated on March 10 according to the Doha Agreement.
The leader of Afghan IS is arrested
Afghan military seizes Aslam Faruqi (also known as Abdullah Orakzai), leader of the extreme Sunni group of Islamic State (IS) branch in the country. He is arrested along with 19 other members of the jihadist group, called the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K). Faruqi is considered to be the brain behind an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul that claimed the lives of 25 people (see March 2020). IS-K has been on the defensive for a long time since both Taliban forces and the US military have fought them.
Rescue package from the World Bank
The World Bank presents a rescue package of $ 1.9 billion to be distributed among 25 developing countries. The money is a contribution to the fight against the corona pandemic. $ 100 million goes to Afghanistan.
The Taliban reject Ghana’s group
The Taliban are rejecting President Ghani’s new negotiating group on the grounds that it is not in compliance with signed agreements. The Taliban do not recognize the government of Ghana as legitimate.
Ghani appoints negotiating group
President Ghani appoints a negotiating group of 21 people to represent the government in talks with the Taliban. Five women are part of the group, which will be led by former intelligence chief Masoom Stanekzai, who, like the Taliban, is the Pashtun. The group includes Batur Dostum, son of former warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, close ally with Abdullah Abdullah. However, it is unclear whether Abdullah himself is behind the negotiating team.
Many dead in attack on temples in Kabul
At least 25 people are killed and a dozen injured when an unknown number of perpetrators shoot small arms around them inside a Sikh-Hindu temple in Kabul where morning prayers are going on. The Islamic State (IS) is taking on the deed. The Taliban are abandoning it.
The United States is withdrawing aid
The United States withholds $ 1 billion in aid in 2020 because of the power struggle in Kabul between Ghani and Abdullah. The fact that both of them are claiming the presidency has prevented Kabul from launching peace talks with the Taliban, which in turn puts a stalemate on the implementation of the Doha agreement. If the fighting does not end, the United States will withdraw an additional $ 1 billion in aid to Afghanistan in 2021. The message comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul and in vain tried to persuade Ghani and Abdullah to start cooperating. Pompeo adds that the US troop retreat should be implemented in accordance with the Doha Agreement. A billion dollars is a huge sum for Afghanistan, whose total GDP is less than $ 20 billion a year.
Corona pandemic delays troop retreat
Afghanistan reports its first confirmed death caused by the new coronavirus, sars-cov-2, which created a pandemic. The victim is a 40-year-old man with underlying liver and kidney disease. US Defense Headquarters The Pentagon announces that the US troops retreat from Afghanistan is delayed due to the risk of increased contagion. The Taliban promise not to attack medical personnel during the pandemic. The spread into Afghanistan is mostly from Iran, where millions of Afghans live as refugees. When Iran is severely affected by the corona virus, tens of thousands of refugees have flocked back home. Many of them sit in collection camps where hygiene is poor and infected people are not separated from the healthy.
The Taliban reject bids from Ghani
the 12th of March
The Taliban reject a proposal by the Afghan government to gradually release 5,000 imprisoned Taliban as a “gesture of goodwill”. The first 1,500 Taliban would have been released on March 14 and the remaining 3,500 incrementally as negotiations began between Kabul and the Taliban. The Taliban say that the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners under the Doha agreement is a condition for the negotiations to start at all, which would have started on March 10.
UN support for the agreement
The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution that would support the World Organization agreement between the United States and the Taliban. The Security Council calls on the Afghan government to “advance the peace process, including through participation in intra-Afghan negotiations”. The resolution is presented to the Council by the United States.
Double presidential ceremonies
On the same day that Ashraf Ghani swears presidential office for a second term at a ceremony in Kabul, President Abdullah’s second Abdullah Abdullah allows himself to be installed as president at another ceremony in the capital. Abdullah refuses to admit defeat and has said he will form a shadow government alongside Ghana’s ministry. Present at Ghana’s ceremony are several foreign dignitaries, such as US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and US General Scott Miller, head of US forces in Afghanistan. Ghana’s ceremony is disrupted when four rockets explode across central Kabul. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does not congratulate Ghani for the electoral victory, but he says the United States strongly opposes Abdullah’s parallel ceremony.
The United States initiates troop retreat
The United States has begun the Afghanistan military retreat included in the peace treaty with the Taliban (see February 2020), according to sources at the US Pentagon Defense Force. The United States is committed to reducing its troop presence in Afghanistan from today’s more than 12,000 soldiers to 8,600 soldiers within 135 days of the signing of the agreement on February 29, 2020.
About 30 dead in IS deeds in Kabul
About 30 people are killed and 60 are injured in an attack in Kabul against a crowd gathered on the anniversary of a police murder. The politician honored at the ceremony was Hazar and Shia Muslim. “Prime Minister” Abdullah Abdullah is in attendance as is President Hamid Karzai. Both escape unharmed. The Islamic State takes on the deed, which is carried out with small arms and grenades. Two perpetrators are shot to death.
The ICC is continuing its investigation
The International Criminal Court (ICC) decides that an investigation into suspicions of war crimes committed in Afghanistan should continue. The investigation concerns crimes committed after May 1, 2003 by all parties to the war, including the United States, whose government protested against the ICC’s actions. The ICC was established in 2002 to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United States is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize the court’s right to judge American citizens. The government of Afghanistan also opposes the investigation.
The Taliban are attacking Afghan bases
The Taliban carry out more than 30 attacks against Afghan army bases in 16 of the country’s 34 provinces. It only happens hours after the partial ceasefire is broken. About 20 people, including civilians, are killed. A day later, US fighter bombs bomb Taliban targets in Helmand, where the Taliban attack Afghan forces.
Immediately conflict about prisoners and ceasefire
The day after the signing of the historic agreement in Doha, the conflict between the Taliban and the government in Kabul is exposed. President Ghani rejects the part of the agreement between the United States and the Taliban movement that states that 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be exchanged against 1,000 prisoners by the government side by March 10. Ghani may think that a discussion on prisoner exchange may be part of upcoming talks, but he does not want to release 5,000 Taliban before the talks start. He adds that only the Afghan government has the power to decide on this. However, he says the partial cease-fire will continue to apply. The Taliban respond by announcing that they will resume fighting against the Afghan military but that they will not attack foreign forces. For the Taliban, the exchange of prisoners has long been a basic requirement.
Agreement between the United States and the Taliban
With representatives from some 30 countries on site in Doha, Qatar, the US and the Afghan Taliban movement sign a complicated agreement, which is supposed to form the basis for formal peace talks. Broadly speaking, the agreement states that the United States and its allies should withdraw their forces from the country within 14 months in exchange for Taliban opening negotiations with the Afghan government in Kabul, and guaranteeing never to make Afghanistan a haven for international terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda or extreme Islamist groups like the Islamic State(IS). The Taliban also promise not to “recruit, train and fund” such movements or members thereof. In the agreement, the United States promises not to threaten or use violence against Afghanistan in the future, nor to interfere in its “internal affairs”. The agreement also provides for a prisoner exchange: 5,000 Taliban and 1,000 on the Afghan government side are to be released by March 10. The government of Kabul is not a party to the agreement, but has representatives in place in Doha. The agreement stipulates that talks between the Taliban and all “Afghan parties” will begin on March 10. The “partial ceasefire” will continue, while a full ceasefire will be discussed in the forthcoming negotiations. The United States also promises to “review” the sanctions targeted at Taliban leaders and members.
Ghani awaits with the presidential oath
President Ghani postpones the ceremony during which he would have sworn in the presidency for a second term. The ceremony is postponed from February 27 to March 9. Formally, the government office states that the decision is made because of “rumors of the spread of the corona virus,” but the Washington government has expressed concern that the peace talks in Doha may be disrupted by the deep contradictions surrounding Ghani’s election victory. The US and the Taliban are expected to sign a peace agreement on February 29.
“Reduced Violence” Agreement
The US and the Afghan Taliban movement agree to “reduce violence” in a “partial ceasefire” across Afghanistan for one week, until a formal agreement is signed between the two parties in Doha on February 29. The agreement is broadly in line. The occasional violence that occurs, including a suicide bombing in Kabul with several deaths, distances the Taliban. The Afghan government announces that the agreement also applies to the Afghan forces.
President Ghani’s election victory is confirmed
The final result of the presidential election on September 28, 2019, is published, almost five months after the election. The final figures confirm the preliminary results and show that President Ghani was re-elected for a second term with 50.64 percent of the vote. His main challenger, the country’s highest executive officer Abdullah Abdullah, gets 39.52 percent. Abdullah immediately questions the election results and says he will form his own government. Abdullah calls the election result a “coup against democracy”. The Taliban movement also rejects Ghani’s electoral victory and calls it “illegal”. The reason why the election results are delayed is technical and administrative problems and that a number of votes have been reviewed or recalculated according to complaints.
More than 2,200 people have been killed and nearly 3,000 have been injured in attacks targeting reconstruction projects between April 2002 and the end of 2019. It shows an American report called Human Cost. Thus, the victims have not participated in combat. Among those killed were 131 Afghan militants, 1,447 civilians and 284 Americans, of whom 216 were soldiers and 68 civilians. There are also a small number of death victims from a number of other countries. The reconstruction applies to both infrastructure and institutions, as well as hospitals and schools.
A record number of aerial bombings
US fighter aircraft dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2019 than any other year in the 2010s, according to the US Air Force. In 2019, the United States released 7,423 individual bombs in Afghanistan. The figure is significantly higher than the amount of bombs dropped across the country during President Barack Obama’s “surge” in 2009, when 4,147 bombs were dropped. Aerial bombings have increased since Donald Trump became US President in 2016. During the first half of 2019, 717 civilians were killed by the government side, including US aviation, according to the UN. This is an increase of 31 percent compared to the same period in 2018. Most were killed by American or Afghan aircraft that supported Afghan ground troops.
US military flight crashes
An American aircraft used for military communications crashes into the mountains in a Taliban controlled area. When Afghan flight tries to reach the crash site, it is met by Taliban wildfires and forced back. At least one person is killed in the fighting. The United States takes over and patrols the airspace. The Pentagon rejects information that the US plane was shot down by Taliban air defense. It is unclear how many people were aboard the crashed plane.
Slightly fewer war victims in 2019
More than 10,000 civilians were killed or injured in the war in Afghanistan in 2019, according to the UN mission Unama. The number of dead was 3,404 and the number injured 6,989. This is a 5 percent reduction compared to 2018. The decrease is considered to be due to the fact that the local IS-faith group in the eastern part of the country was largely crushed in 2019, and the violence on their part. dropped significantly.