The Taliban’s rapid victory in Afghanistan evoked many comparisons to the collapse of the South Vietnamese regime and U.S. evacuation from Saigon in 1975. Ironically, during the same week in late August that the last U.S. forces were withdrawing from Kabul, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris carried out a remarkably successful visit to Hanoi. U.S.-Vietnam relations have arguably never been better — a stark contrast to the scent of failure in Afghanistan.
Weeks after his election to lead his southern African nation, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema vowed to reverse his country’s recent erosion of democracy and good governance, and to stabilize an economy in recession—all despite the burdens of COVID, environmental shocks, and a dangerous “mountain” of debt accumulated in recent years.
USIP’s Joseph Tucker examines who may have been behind the plot, their possible motives, how the failed coup affects the national conversation over the role of the military in Sudan and what can be done to shore-up the country’s democratic transition.
World leaders are gathering in New York this week for the 2021 U.N. General Assembly against a backdrop of unprecedented global crises, including the continued spread of COVID-19 due to lack of access to vaccines; a growing hunger crisis as more people around the world die every day from starvation than from COVID-19; and the fact that roughly one percent of the world’s entire population — or one in every 97 people — is now forcibly displaced. These humanitarian challenges are compounded by a generational climate crisis and rising tensions with Russia and China that will need to be carefully managed.
It has become fashionable to characterize recent events in Afghanistan as a loss for the United States and a win for China. This zero-sum interpretation framed in the narrow context of U.S.-China relations is too simplistic and off the mark. The reality is far more complex and nuanced. The end of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and the collapse of that country’s pro-Western government do not automatically translate into significant Chinese gains, nor do they trigger a swift Beijing swoop to fill the vacuum in Kabul left by Washington.
As the 2021 U.N. General Assembly begins amid a host of global crises, USIP’s Corinne Graff says this year’s theme of resilience must “deal not just with the symptoms of these emergencies, but the root causes as well” and that effective governance is “key to building resilience against many of the global challenges we face today.”
As more emphasis is placed on the role of national and local efforts in peacebuilding, support organizations may increasingly look for opportunities to bolster national and local facilitator networks. This report shares findings from a meta-review commissioned by the United States Institute of Peace that examined networks it supported in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Tunisia. It provides recommendations for creating and sustaining networks that successfully operate with the resources and technical assistance available.
Last month’s bombing outside the Kabul airport was a devastating sign of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province’s (IS-K) recent resurgence. The group had already launched 77 attacks in the first four months of 2021 — an increase from 21 in the same period last year. This renewed capacity for mass-casualty attacks could further destabilize Afghanistan’s already precarious security situation, leaving both the new Taliban government and the United States with a vested interest in mounting an effective campaign to undercut IS-K’s presence in the region.
The United States and the United Kingdom have made the rare decision to share nuclear submarine propulsion technology with Australia in a move seen aimed at China. In a joint statement on September 15, the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced the formation of a trilateral partnership — AUKUS — that, among other things, seeks to “strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defense interests.” USIP’s Brian Harding, Carla Freeman, Mirna Galic, Henry Tugendhat and Rachel Vandenbrink discuss the significance of the decision and what to expect next.
The Taliban’s lightning conquest of Afghanistan caught many people by surprise, perhaps including the Taliban themselves. However, it is not the country’s first episode of an unexpectedly quick military victory and consequent rapid change in regime. Historical examples may provide relevant lessons for the victorious Taliban as they begin to govern the country, including pitfalls to be avoided in their own and the nation’s interest.