Scott Worden is director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He comes into this role with an extensive background in reconstruction, development, democracy and governance, policy, among others; as well as extensive regional expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Prior to joining USIP, Worden was director of the Lessons Learned Program at the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), and served as acting director of policy as well as a senior policy advisor for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In the latter position, he was responsible for advising senior officials on strategies for sustainable development in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At his previous time with USIP, Worden directed Rule of Law development programs for the USIP and served as a United Nations-appointed Electoral Complaints Commissioner for the 2009 Afghanistan elections, as well as advising the U.N. on elections in 2005-06. 

Worden has a decade of experience working on Afghanistan issues and working in the field.

Originally from Boston, Mr. Worden earned his bachelor’s at Colgate University and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School.

Publications By Scott

Can the Taliban Be Stopped? Three Scenarios for What’s Next in Afghanistan

Can the Taliban Be Stopped? Three Scenarios for What’s Next in Afghanistan

Thursday, August 12, 2021

By: Scott Worden

The Afghan government has had its most difficult week fighting the Taliban since the insurgency began. As of this writing, 12 provincial capitals have fallen since last Friday, marking the first time the Taliban have controlled a city since they were ousted in 2001. By some estimates the Taliban control two-thirds of the country. While many experts predicted that the rapid and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops would increase Taliban control, few saw it happening this fast. A Taliban takeover of Kabul — once thought to be years away if at all — is now conceivable within months, or even a matter of weeks.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

11 Things to Know: Afghanistan on the Eve of Withdrawal

11 Things to Know: Afghanistan on the Eve of Withdrawal

Thursday, June 17, 2021

By: Andrew Wilder, Ph.D.; Scott Worden

U.S. and NATO troops are rapidly executing President Biden’s policy of a complete withdrawal of American troops and contactors supporting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) by a deadline of September 11. Based on the rate of progress, the last American soldier could depart before the end of July. The decision to withdraw without a cease-fire or a framework for a political agreement between the Taliban and the government caught Afghans and regional countries by surprise. The Taliban have capitalized on the moment to seize dozens of districts and project an air of confidence and victory.  

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Fragility & Resilience

Democracy Is the Afghan Government’s Best Defense Against the Taliban

Democracy Is the Afghan Government’s Best Defense Against the Taliban

Thursday, April 22, 2021

By: Scott Worden; Belquis Ahmadi

The Biden administration’s announcement last week that U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by September 11 came as a blow to the current peace talks and many Afghan citizens who appreciate the rights and freedoms that international forces have helped to defend against the Taliban. Still, President Biden made clear that the United States continues to support the Afghan government and democratic system, and, to that end, the administration has indicated it would request $300 million from Congress in additional civilian aid. But Biden explicitly de-linked U.S. troops from that equation — stating that they would not be “a bargaining chip between warring parties.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Gender; Democracy & Governance

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan: End to an Endless War?

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan: End to an Endless War?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

By: Scott Worden; Johnny Walsh; Belquis Ahmadi; Ambassador Richard Olson

President Joe Biden formally announced on Wednesday that the United States will withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks that led to the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban. The decision comes a month after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looked to jump-start the moribund intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar with a sweeping set of proposals. Although the withdrawal would mean an end to America’s longest war, the implications for Afghanistan’s hard-won progress are immense and many fear the possibility of a rejuvenated civil war after U.S. troops leave.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

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