Afghanistan is a landlocked country—surrounded by difficult neighbors—with rugged terrain and poor infrastructure. The state has been heavily dependent on foreign assistance for most of its modern existence, and since 2001 has relied on aid to sustain the government, provide services, fund security forces, and encourage private enterprise. This dependence, and the country’s difficult location, have also made Afghanistan vulnerable to foreign interference, including foreign support for the Taliban insurgency.

The papers in this collection explore regional geopolitics and the political economy of international aid, with an eye to lessons learned from the past two decades and a recognition that the international footprint is likely to diminish significantly in the near future.

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Further Reading

Pathways for Post-Peace Development in Afghanistan report cover

Pathways for Post-Peace Development in Afghanistan

By Scott Guggenheim and Khyber Farahi

This report, based on an examination of Afghanistan’s recent development performance, provides a framework for how the Afghan government and its donor partners can more effectively deliver equitable development. 

The India-Pakistan Rivalry in Afghanistan report cover

The India-Pakistan Rivalry in Afghanistan

By Zachary Constantino

This report examines the interests and strategies of both countries in Afghanistan within the context of peace negotiations and developments in Kashmir.

Shops on the main street through Istalif, Afghanistan, where they make distinctive turquoise pottery, June 30, 2016. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)

Afghanistan Donor Conference 2020: Pitfalls and Possibilities

By William Byrd

The quadrennial international donor conference for Afghanistan was largely shaped by the pitfalls and roadblocks forecasted when the event was publicly announced. Yet amid the unsatisfying results, some hopeful rays broke through.