Johnny Walsh is a senior expert on Afghanistan, focusing on the Afghan peace process. Mr. Walsh previously spent 10 years as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, most recently as lead advisor on the Afghan peace process in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. From 2014-16, he was the senior policy advisor for South Asia, the Middle East, and counterterrorism at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. From 2010-14, he worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan in various capacities at State, including an assignment in Kandahar at the height of the U.S. troop surge.

Mr. Walsh has extensive additional experience on Iraq (including a year at U.S. Embassy Baghdad), Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa. He holds a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies and a Bachelors in International History, both from Harvard University. He is also an accomplished musician who joined with Afghan-American virtuoso Qais Essar to compose an opera entitled Tear a Root From the Earth, which uses Afghan and American folk music to chronicle the two countries’ history together.

Publications By Johnny

Rival Afghan Leaders Agree to Share Power—Now Comes the Hard Part

Rival Afghan Leaders Agree to Share Power—Now Comes the Hard Part

Thursday, May 21, 2020

By: Scott Worden; Johnny Walsh

Last weekend, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal to end a months-long dispute over the 2019 presidential election. The deal comes amid a spate of high-profile violence, including a recent attack on a Kabul maternity ward by suspected ISIS perpetrators. Meanwhile, the Afghan peace process has stalled since the U.S.-Taliban deal signed at the end of February. The power-sharing agreement could address one of the key challenges to getting that process back on track. USIP’s Scott Worden and Johnny Walsh look at what the agreement entails and what it means for the peace process.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Peace Processes

What Has the U.S. Got Against Peace Talks?

What Has the U.S. Got Against Peace Talks?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

By: Johnny Walsh

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Afghan peace process, closing off for the time being a rare opening to resolve a long, stagnant, and unpopular war. Whatever one thinks of the specifics of the deal that the U.S. representative at the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, had nearly finalized with the Taliban, the episode was a perfect demonstration of the conflicted, often self-defeating view of peace agreements that mires U.S. foreign policy.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Peace Processes

A Primer on Multi-track Diplomacy: How Does it Work?

A Primer on Multi-track Diplomacy: How Does it Work?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

By: Jennifer Staats ; Johnny Walsh; Rosarie Tucci

If you asked someone to define diplomacy, chances are they would describe two governments meeting, shaking hands, sitting at a table, and negotiating an official agreement. But that more traditional view of diplomacy is only one iteration, often called track 1 diplomacy. Diplomacy can occur in a number of forms, or “tracks,” that engage various participants, from academics to policymakers to heads of state. In an increasingly complex global environment, peacebuilders and diplomats looking to address difficult policy challenges are increasingly incorporating track 1.5 and track 2 dialogues—often referred to as “back channel” diplomacy—into their strategies.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Amid a Spike in Violence, Have Afghan Peace Talks Lost Momentum?

Amid a Spike in Violence, Have Afghan Peace Talks Lost Momentum?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

By: Johnny Walsh

After rapid progress in early 2019, the Afghan peace process has seemingly slowed. The U.S. chief negotiator, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, said in May that his negotiations with the Taliban were making slow but steady progress, but there has been little headway in starting talks among the various Afghan parties. Meanwhile, violence has ratcheted up, as typically occurs in the spring and summer in Afghanistan. The country’s overdue presidential polls are scheduled for late September, further complicating efforts to achieve peace. Can talks succeed amid the violence and political discord? Will the elections drain momentum from the peace process? USIP’s Johnny Walsh looks at the Afghan peace process ahead of the next round of talks in late June.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

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