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

Watkins 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 resolve it peacefully. He has also worked in Afghanistan for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, as an independent researcher and advisor to humanitarian organizations based across the country, and as a liaison with Afghan 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 a master’s from Harvard University and a bachelor’s from Columbia University.

In addition to his Crisis Group reporting, Watkins has published a series of policy papers on the regional dynamics of the Afghan peace process with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and a USIP Peaceworks report on the phenomenon of cohesion and fragmentation within the Afghan Taliban. 

Publications By Andrew

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

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 Policy; Reconciliation

Five Questions on the Taliban’s Caretaker Government

Five Questions on the Taliban’s Caretaker Government

Thursday, September 9, 2021

By: Andrew Watkins

As part of the Taliban’s bid to re-establish the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the militant group announced the line up for its caretaker government on Tuesday. Despite several leading Taliban figures saying the movement would govern in a more moderate and inclusive fashion, the acting appointments made this week were mostly old guard members who played similar roles when the group ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s. USIP’s Andrew Watkins discusses who the key players are, what it signals about the Taliban’s commitment to inclusivity, the key challenges the government will face and how the West and regional countries should engage.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Taliban Fragmentation: Fact, Fiction, and Future

Taliban Fragmentation: Fact, Fiction, and Future

Monday, March 23, 2020

By: Andrew Watkins

For years, the U.S. military pursued a "divide and defeat" strategy against the Afghan Taliban, attempting to exploit the supposedly fragmented nature of the group. Drawing on the academic literature on insurgency, civil war, and negotiated peace, this report finds that the Taliban is a far more cohesive organization than a fragmented one. Moreover, Taliban cohesion may bode well for enforcing the terms of its February 29 agreement with the United States, and any eventual settlement arising from intra-Afghan negotiations.

Type: Peaceworks

Peace Processes

View All