Current conceptions and models of fragile statehood in conflict-affected contexts can serve the purposes of international donor governments over and above reconstruction and statebuilding.
First, despite remaining ill-defined, the fragile state concept is widely utilized by donors to oversimplify analysis of complex political environments, such as that of Afghanistan, leading to inadequate bureaucratic responses. Second, current models of fragile statehood are unable to capture contextual or temporal dynamics, and invariably omit the contribution of international intervention to entrenching fragility. This is particularly the case in Afghanistan, where the effects of international militarized stabilization responses have not been systematically included in fragility assessments, leading to increased insecurity. This article calls for a more nuanced approach to fragility and greater acknowledgement of the role donor governments can play in its entrenchment.
The ceasefire shows yet again the leverage the Taliban now has thanks to its recent attacks. What’s most interesting is that the ceasefire doesn’t apply to the Islamic State. Whereas the Taliban have primarily attacked security forces, the Islamic State’s violence has much been much less selective, and has killed far more civilians. The Taliban’s strategy appears to have paid off— there’s popular support for a ceasefire with the Taliban, but not for one with the Islamic State.
The attack on the interior ministry is just the latest in a long string of brazen and high profile attacks in Kabul this year. This winter the Taliban carried out an ambulance bombing that killed over 100, while the Islamic State killed over ten soldiers in an attack on an Afghan army base. Afghan security forces have long struggled with how to defeat the Taliban alone. Now that the Taliban are competing with the Islamic State for resources and recruits, the challenge has grown even more daunting—the two groups are now locked in a race to see who can launch bigger and more devastating attacks.