Andrew Watkins is a senior expert on Afghanistan for the U.S. Institute of Peace. 

Watkins has worked in and on Afghanistan in a number of roles; he joined USIP after serving as the senior analyst on Afghanistan for the International Crisis Group, where he researched and published in-depth reports and analytical commentary on the country’s conflict and efforts to initiate a peaceful settlement. He was previously an analyst of the country’s insurgent landscape for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, and studied the Taliban as an independent researcher. As an advisor to humanitarian organizations based across the country, he traveled widely and conducted extensive field research. He also served as a liaison with local security forces for several years.

Watkins' research focuses on insurgency in Afghanistan, regional engagement in the Afghanistan conflict, and challenges and opportunities for humanitarian access. He has written extensively on the phenomenon of cohesion and fragmentation within the Taliban. His commentary and analysis have been widely published by major media outlets and research institutes, and he is regularly cited by global press such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the BBC, the Economist, Associated Press, NPR, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera and many others.

Watkins has a master’s from Harvard University and a bachelor’s from Columbia University.

Publications By Andrew

One Year Later: Taliban Reprise Repressive Rule, but Struggle to Build a State

One Year Later: Taliban Reprise Repressive Rule, but Struggle to Build a State

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

By: Andrew Watkins

When the Taliban swept into power last August, many expected they would reprise the draconian governance of their 1990s emirate. Despite pledges of moderation and reform from some Taliban factions, one year later those predictions have largely turned out to be prescient. The group has yet to establish a formal governance structure, with the interim cabinet appointed early in their tenure still intact. But the Taliban have swiftly reinstated many of their harshest policies, pushing women out of public life and brooking no dissent. USIP’s Andrew Watkins explains how the Taliban government functions, who’s really in charge and how the Taliban have dealt with challenges to their authority.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

After al-Zawahiri’s Killing, What’s Next for the U.S. in Afghanistan?

After al-Zawahiri’s Killing, What’s Next for the U.S. in Afghanistan?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

By: Kate Bateman;  Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.;  Andrew Watkins

On Monday, President Biden revealed that a U.S. drone strike killed al-Qaida leader, and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend. Al-Zawahiri was reportedly on the balcony of a safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan. Last week, the United States participated in a regional conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan focused on counterterrorism, where Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said his regime had followed through on commitments to not allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for transnational terrorism.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Dispute Heats Up

Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Dispute Heats Up

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.;  Ambassador Richard Olson;  Andrew Watkins

In at least two incidents in late December and early January, Afghan Taliban soldiers intervened to block an ongoing Pakistani project to erect fencing along the shared border between Afghanistan and Pakistan — the demarcation of which prior Afghan governments have never accepted. Despite attempts to resolve the issue diplomatically, and the Taliban’s dependence on Pakistan as a bridge to the international community, both sides remain at odds over the fence. USIP’s Richard Olson, Asfandyar Mir and Andrew Watkins assess the implications of this border dispute for Afghanistan and Pakistan’s bilateral relationship and the region at large.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Taliban Seek Recognition, But Offer Few Concessions to International Concerns

Taliban Seek Recognition, But Offer Few Concessions to International Concerns

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

By: Kate Bateman;  Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.;  Ambassador Richard Olson;  Andrew Watkins

Since taking power in August, the Taliban have repeatedly expressed the expectation that the international community will recognize their authority as the new government of Afghanistan and have taken several procedural steps to pursue recognition. But the group has done very little to demonstrate a willingness to meet the conditions put forward by Western powers and some regional states. USIP’s Andrew Watkins, Richard Olson, Asfandyar Mir and Kate Bateman assess the latest Taliban efforts to win international recognition, the position of Pakistan and other key regional players and options for U.S. policy to shape Taliban behavior and the engagement decisions of other international partners.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyReconciliation

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