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.
A political deal to resolve the disputed 2019 presidential election was finally reached over the weekend. USIP’s Scott Worden says the agreement “is quite significant” because it will give the Afghan side “more political coherence to negotiate with the Taliban and, if implemented, it will show the Taliban they can’t divide Afghans.”
While governments around the world are anxious to emerge from their pandemic lockdowns for the sake of their economies, the pressure to do so is more acute in countries like Pakistan where there were already high levels of poverty and a significant part of the population is engaged in the informal economy.
Well before the coronavirus emerged, a large majority of Nigerians felt their country was “going in the wrong direction.” Polling shows Nigerians feel the government has struggled to improve the living standards of the poor and is managing the economy badly. Today, while the public health response to head off the pandemic dominates attention, calls from prominent members of Nigerian civil society have renewed debates over wider questions of economic, social, and political reform. In this article, members of the Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance express both their hopes and concerns—in the context of the coronavirus—for Africa’s most populous country.
Dictator Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for nearly three decades, was overthrown in April 2019. After months of protests, negotiations led to a joint civilian-military transitional government to govern the country for a period of 39 months. However, Sudan’s political transition remains tenuous, and even before the coronavirus pandemic, the risks of failure were many. USIP’s Manal Taha, Payton Knopf, and Aly Verjee discuss the past year in Sudan and the need for further international support to shore up the transition.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, Libya’s health system—like many of the country’s institutions—was in crisis. The country’s public health infrastructure has been neglected since the 2011 uprising and even before it was in need of a fundamental overhaul. On top of that, many of the foreign medics in Libya fled following the conflict in 2011 and have not returned.
Last month’s breakthrough between South Sudan’s government and its armed opposition on establishing a new transitional government represents a critical step toward ending the country’s civil war, a conflict that over the past six years has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced a third of the nation’s population of 12 million.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads in both countries, USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed examines the obstacles facing Iraq’s newly appointed prime minister, as well as whether addressing the crisis might open the door for de-escalation between the U.S. and Iran, saying, “I do hope that these unfortunate challenges still come with some opportunity.”
In 2014, the world watched in disbelief, as global news networks covered the stream of gruesome and horrific beheading videos released by the so-called Islamic State. For the first time, by bringing the terror of the Islamic State directly to the devices in the palm of our hands, it felt personal and close by, rather than across the world in a mysterious land.
Coinciding with Lebanon’s worst financial crisis in decades, popular protests in the country have been ongoing for more than four months. The protests were initially sparked by a government tax on the popular WhatsApp messaging service. They quickly evolved into Lebanon’s largest, sustained peaceful protest movement. The demonstrations were notable for being geographically diverse and starkly anti-sectarian. Women and youth have played outsized roles in the protests, which emphasized a focus on civic engagement. Recently, however, the protests have taken a troubling turn, with episodic clashes between protesters and security forces.