Even with an agreement between the United States and the Taliban uncertain for now, an eventual intra-Afghan peace process will still need to address many critical challenges—including the reintegration of former fighters and their families. Life in a post-settlement Afghanistan could involve an estimated 60,000 full-time Taliban fighters returning to civilian life. There may also be efforts to demobilize other armed groups that have been fighting the Taliban. And if ex-combatants are not accepted by their communities or are unable to find a new livelihood, they may be vulnerable to recruitment by criminal groups or terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.

To address this vital but often overlooked issue and assist U.S. policymakers and agencies as they craft an approach to reintegration, the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has produced the agency’s seventh “Lessons Learned” program report. 

On September 18, USIP and SIGAR held the official launch of “Reintegration of Ex-Combatants: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan.” The event included a keynote address by Special Inspector General John Sopko, followed by a panel discussion on the report’s findings and recommendations—both for the ongoing insurgency and for a post-settlement Afghanistan. Continue the conversation with #SIGAR.

Speakers

John Sopko, keynote address
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction 

Kate Bateman
Project Lead for Reintegration, Lessons Learned Program, SIGAR

Erica Gaston 
Non-Resident fellow, Global Public Policy Institute 

Timor Sharan
Deputy Minister for Policy and Technical Affairs, Independent Directorate of Local Governance 

Johnny Walsh
Senior Expert, Afghanistan, U.S Institute of Peace

Scott Worden, moderator
Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, United States Institute of Peace 

Related Publications

Afghanistan’s Two Years of Humanitarian Crisis Under the Taliban

Afghanistan’s Two Years of Humanitarian Crisis Under the Taliban

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

By: Dayne Curry;  Becky Roby;  Ellen Bevier;  Anastasia Moran

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 immediately exacerbated the country’s precarious humanitarian situation, leaving millions in need of food assistance and other support. Two years later, the situation remains dire, with Afghan women and girls acutely affected by the Taliban’s draconian restrictions on their daily lives. The international community continues to struggle to find a balance between providing desperately needed aid while also pressuring the regime in Kabul to moderate its hardline policies. While Afghans need emergency assistance, the country will continue to deal with cycles of crises until its deep-seated economic challenges are addressed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman Rights

Two Years of the Taliban’s ‘Gender Apartheid’ in Afghanistan

Two Years of the Taliban’s ‘Gender Apartheid’ in Afghanistan

Thursday, September 14, 2023

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Scott Worden

Two years after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the human rights situation in the country is abysmal, with women and girls experiencing the worst of the regime’s policies. There is growing evidence that the Taliban are committing the crime against humanity of gender persecution of women and girls, an assertion Human Rights Watch made in a new report. This summer, the World Economic Forum slated Afghanistan last of the 146 countries it ranked in a study on gender gaps. The scope of the Taliban’s women’s rights restrictions is truly unprecedented.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman Rights

The Latest @ USIP: Documenting the Taliban’s Assault on Human Rights

The Latest @ USIP: Documenting the Taliban’s Assault on Human Rights

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

By: Richard Bennett

Despite initial promises to the contrary, the Taliban have systematically stripped human rights protections from large swaths of the Afghan population — particularly women, minorities and children. With the gains of the last two decades nearly wiped out, accountability for human rights abuses will be a major factor in the international community’s policy toward the Taliban going forward. Richard Bennett, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Afghanistan, explains why documentation is the first and most important step in upholding human rights; discusses various forms of accountability for human rights abuses; and offers ways that Afghan and international human rights advocates can contribute to this crucial work.

Type: Blog

GenderHuman Rights

Two Years Under the Taliban: Is Afghanistan a Terrorist Safe Haven Once Again?

Two Years Under the Taliban: Is Afghanistan a Terrorist Safe Haven Once Again?

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.

Two years into Taliban rule, the question of whether Afghanistan would once again become a safe haven for international terrorism remains alive. Longstanding fears were affirmed a little over a year ago, when the U.S. government located al-Qaeda leader Aimen al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan, before killing him in a drone strike. The fact that the Taliban would bring Zawahiri back to Kabul, despite repeated assurances to U.S. negotiators both before and after the Doha agreement that they had distanced themselves from al-Qaeda, significantly elevated concerns.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

View All Publications