Analysis

Taliban attacks will decrease but other militant groups, including IS, may exploit Afghanistan’s volatile environment

  • Middle East
  • Afghanistan
  • Political and Economic Risk Consulting
Arsla Jawaid

Arsla Jawaid

Taliban attacks will decrease but other militant groups, including IS, may exploit Afghanistan’s volatile environment



The Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on 15 August with minimal resistance from Afghan security forces, completing the group’s military takeover of the country.

  • Taliban attacks against Afghan government and security targets nationwide will subside following the Taliban’s complete takeover of the country and declaration of victory.
  • However, other militant groups will retain the intent and capability to exploit the volatile situation and stage high-impact attacks, including in Kabul. Terrorism risk remains extreme.
  • Tensions will remain elevated at Kabul International Airport and in surrounding areas over the coming days. However, the Taliban will not attack the airport while evacuations are underway.
  • Security risk will remain extreme amid the volatile political transition, the absence of organised security forces throughout the country and the elevated threat of terrorist attacks.


Decrease in attacks

The Taliban’s declaration of victory and the capitulation of the government following President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to leave the country on 15 August mean that fighting will subside throughout Afghanistan. As of 16 August, there are no reports of fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government and any associated armed forces. Aside from some reports of sporadic, opportunistic looting, Kabul is reported to be calm.

There is no indication that the Taliban will mount attacks against international troops before the 31 August deadline for the full US troop withdrawal. For now, the Taliban appears to be allowing foreign journalists and personnel remaining in the country to continue to operate unthreatened.

Terrorism threat

However, other militant groups, such as Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K), maintain active cells in the capital and will likely seek to exploit the fragile political and security situation to stage high-impact attacks. IS-K remains staunchly opposed to the Taliban’s military and political gains as it seeks to carve out space for its own operations.

Such groups are likely to retain the intent and capability to launch attacks on Kabul International Airport, effectively the last redoubt of the Western military and diplomatic presence in the country. These could include detonating improvised explosive devices or firing on the roads leading to the airport, or launching rocket attacks towards the airport’s periphery.

Kabul airport

Diplomatic evacuations will continue to overwhelm operations at Kabul International Airport. Tensions are likely to remain heightened at the airport and in surrounding areas over the coming days as civilians seek to leave the country amid increasingly limited flight options. As of 16 August, most commercial flights have temporarily halted operations to and from Kabul, though sporadic evacuation flights for diplomatic staff continue.

There is no indication that the Taliban will attempt to attack Kabul airport as evacuations – both for foreigners and local Afghans – remain underway. The Taliban has refrained from attacking international personnel as part of the February 2020 US-Taliban peace deal and is highly unlikely to jeopardise this as tensions remain heightened and the US enters the final stages of withdrawal.

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