The Afghan government and Taliban announced an agreement on a prisoner exchange this week, but it remains unclear what comes next. With the presidential election still undecided, “The question is if this is the beginning of a new peace strategy on the part of President Ghani, will he be the president a few months from now to carry that strategy forward?” asks USIP’s Scott Smith.
Factional violence and civil war have prevented Libya from transitioning to a secure, democratic government in the eight years since Qaddafi’s fall. But USIP’s Nathaniel Wilson says the path to peace still exists, and that “these kinds of generational revolutions take more time than that to play out.”
Several major developments have rattled the region in recent weeks, including Iraq’s ongoing protests, the U.S. withdrawal from Syria and the death of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed says his death is a major blow to the terrorist group, but “the fact remains that … the enabling environment that gave rise to ISIS” is still present.
In the aftermath of U.S. troop withdrawal from northeast Syria, USIP’s Mona Yacoubian says “we’re seeing Russia come in and fill the vacuum,” which will have “long-term strategic implications” for stemming a possible reemergence of ISIS as well as U.S. influence in the region.
Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic engagement with neighboring Eritrea and initiating a host of domestic reforms. USIP’s Susan Stigant explains how the award shines a light on his accomplishments and “sets an expectation that he will continue to provide that leadership going forward."
The crisis in Venezuela and increasing tensions between the Colombian government and the Maduro regime threaten the security of the region and the implementation of Colombia’s 2016 FARC peace accord. USIP’s Steve Hege discusses recent obstacles to implementation of that accord and how the U.S. can support a democratic transition in Venezuela.
Last week, Tunisians voted for “a wholesale dismissal of everyone who’s governed before” in the first round of presidential elections, said USIP’s Leo Siebert. And with parliamentary and runoff elections upcoming, a string of free and fair elections could help Tunisia “prove to the world, and be a model to its neighbors, that democracy is possible.”
Ahead of the International Day of Peace on September 21, USIP’s Jill Welch talks about how the Institute’s annual Peace Day Challenge gives people around the world “the opportunity to take an action, however big or small, to make peace possible together.”
Eighteen years after 9/11, USIP President and CEO Nancy Lindborg reflects on the continued spread of violent extremism and points to the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States as a blueprint for a new, preventive approach, saying, “I think we’ve all realized this is not a problem we can bomb our way out of.”
Iraqi leaders are concerned that efforts to improve governance and build durable institutions are being overwhelmed by rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the potential of a proxy war in the country. “This pressure has definitely undermined the Iraqi government,” says USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed.