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

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

The State of Play in U.S.-Taliban Talks and the Afghan Peace Process

The State of Play in U.S.-Taliban Talks and the Afghan Peace Process

Thursday, April 11, 2019

By: Johnny Walsh

The latest round of U.S.-Taliban talks concluded on March 12, with both sides noting progress but conceding that no breakthroughs had been made. After two weeks of discussions in Doha, Qatar, American officials said they were close to reaching a final agreement on a potential U.S. troop withdrawal and a Taliban pledge to no longer allow terrorist attacks from Afghanistan. But how far can these talks go without the Afghan government involved? Is Afghanistan’s post-2001 progress in jeopardy? And what do regional actors think about the talks? USIP’s Johnny Walsh examines the state of play in the Afghan peace process.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Johnny Walsh on Election Season in Afghanistan

Johnny Walsh on Election Season in Afghanistan

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

By: Johnny Walsh

As Afghans wait for official results from the parliamentary polls, Johnny Walsh says that the country is already entering “high political season” in preparation for the critical April 2019 presidential election. Although the Taliban continues to carry out high-profile attacks across the country, Walsh says that many Afghans are focused on the presidential polls and its implications for the peace process.

Type: Podcast

Democracy & Governance

Afghan Taliban Sidestep Cease-fire, But Peace Efforts Continue

Afghan Taliban Sidestep Cease-fire, But Peace Efforts Continue

Friday, August 24, 2018

By: Johnny Walsh

For several weeks, speculation has abounded in Afghanistan about whether the extraordinary Eid al Fitr cease-fire this past June would be repeated for Eid al-Adha, the Islamic holiday which in Afghanistan began on Tuesday. The Taliban maintained a studious silence on the matter, then launched a major assault on the city of Ghazni.

Peace Processes

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