Mapping The Extremist Narrative Landscape In Afghanistan

On 29 February 2020, the Afghan Taliban signed a conditional peace agreement with the United States (US), a momentous occasion that was followed, six months later, by the inaugural round of negotiations between it and the Afghan government. This was the first-ever time the Taliban had officially engaged in talks with the Afghan government. Though this was an undeniably important step towards peace, the Afghan war has shown few signs of abating towards the end of 2020, with the Taliban launching a strategic offensive in Helmand in October and IS-KP, the official affiliate of ISIS in Afghanistan, deploying yet another campaign of terror just days later. Amidst these conflicting dynamics, the narrative battlespace has rarely been more hotly contested. This report, which maps how Violent Extremist Organisations (VEOs) are seeking to influence and shape the trajectory of Afghan politics today, aims to inform and support the development of strategic communications programming that meaningfully counters extremist narratives and enable more targeted, effective responses to the long-term challenges posed by VEO appeals.

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