This report draws on a series of workshops entitled “Anticipating a Political Process in Afghanistan: How Should the International Community Respond?” These workshops brought together some thirty analysts, both Afghans and foreigners, who have spent many years in Kabul, Kandahar, and other parts of Afghanistan. Participants considered a range of possible scenarios for Afghanistan over the next five years and the drivers of events in Afghanistan, then developed scenarios based on a five-year perspective and constructed along two main axes: the degree of political inclusion and the degree of state capacity and control.

267

Summary

  • The proposition that a political settlement is needed to end the war in Afghanistan has gained increasing attention in recent months. Channels for preliminary talks with Taliban leaders have been sought and a High Peace Council created.
  • However, despite upbeat military assessments, the insurgency has expanded its reach across the country and continues to enjoy sanctuary in Pakistan. Afghans increasingly resent the presence of foreign troops, and the Taliban draw strength from grievances by ordinary Afghans against their government. External money to supply military bases and pay for development projects often ends up fueling conflict rather than creating stability.
  • For their part, President Karzai and many Afghan political elites lack genuine commitment to reform, calling into question the viability of a state-building international strategy and transition by 2014.
  • Missing is a political strategy to end the conflict that goes beyond dealing with the Taliban; it must define the kind of state that Afghans are willing to live in and that regional neighbors can endorse. Knowing that such a settlement could take years to conclude does not diminish the urgency of initiating the process.
  • Given doubts about Karzai’s ability to manage the situation effectively, the international community needs to facilitate a peace process more pro-actively than it has. To be sustainable, the process will need to be inclusive; women’s rights, human rights, and media freedoms cannot become casualties of negotiations.
  • Afghanistan’s international partners should commit to a peace process and lay the groundwork to appoint a mediator. This includes gauging the interests of parties, identifying actual participants in talks, and structuring an agenda. In the meantime, international military efforts must be realigned to avoid action that contradicts the ultimate aim of a peace settlement.

About the Report
This report draws on a series of workshops entitled “Anticipating a Political Process in Afghanistan: How Should the International Community Respond?” These workshops brought together some thirty analysts, both Afghans and foreigners, who have spent many years in Kabul, Kandahar, and other parts of Afghanistan. Participants considered a range of possible scenarios for Afghanistan over the next five years and the drivers of events in Afghanistan, then developed scenarios based on a five-year perspective and constructed along two main axes: the degree of political inclusion and the degree of state capacity and control.

The workshops were held in Kabul, London, and Washington, D.C. in June 2010, supported by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and facilitated by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). This report also incorporates comments to an earlier version that was circulated as a nonpaper to senior policymakers ahead of the July Kabul conference. The report focuses on examining the role of the international community and the key challenges to a sustainable peace process, creating an inclusive peace process, gauging the interests of parties, identifying actual participants in peace talks, and structuring an agenda for sustainable stability

 

Related Publications

Can Technology Help Afghanistan Avoid the Resource Curse?

Can Technology Help Afghanistan Avoid the Resource Curse?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

By: William Byrd; Richard Brittan

Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, roughly estimated at upwards of $1 trillion, is sometimes seen as the country’s potential savior—with prospects to generate large government revenues, exports, and some jobs. On the other hand, international and Afghan experience amply demonstrates the downside risks associated with mineral exploitation—macroeconomic and fiscal distortions; waste, corruption, and poor governance; environmental degradation; and the risk of financing or fomenting violent conflict, thereby undermining peacebuilding. The so-called “resource curse” is not destiny, however, and some countries have managed to avoid it, though Afghanistan faces much greater challenges than most when it comes to beneficially developing its mining sector.

Economics & Environment

Youth Protest Movements in Afghanistan

Youth Protest Movements in Afghanistan

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

By: Srinjoy Bose; Nematullah Bizhan; Niamatullah Ibrahimi

The youth-led protest movements that emerged after the 2014 Afghan presidential election added a new dynamic to Afghan politics. Motivated primarily by widespread perceptions of injustice, exclusion and marginalization from governmental policymaking, and rapidly deteriorating...

Youth; Democracy & Governance

Progress in Taliban Talks, But ‘Long Way to Go’, says U.S. Envoy

Progress in Taliban Talks, But ‘Long Way to Go’, says U.S. Envoy

Monday, February 11, 2019

By: Adam Gallagher

Amid a series of positive developments in the Afghan peace process over the last year, a framework for negotiations reached between the U.S. and Taliban has renewed hope that the 17 year-old Afghan conflict could come to a close. Led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. has agreed in principle to a conditional withdraw of U.S. and allied troops in exchange for the Taliban pledging to not allow Afghanistan to be a safe haven for transnational terrorists, like al-Qaida, as well as agreeing to talks that include the Afghan government and a cease-fire. Despite this progress, “We are in the early stages of a protracted process,” Ambassador Khalilzad said at the U.S. Institute of Peace on February 8. “We have a long way to go.”

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Peace Processes

How can we negotiate with the Taliban? Afghan women know.

How can we negotiate with the Taliban? Afghan women know.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

By: Palwasha L. Kakar

Afghan political leaders met in Moscow this week with Taliban representatives amid new momentum in diplomatic efforts to end Afghanistan’s war. Like other recent discussions, including those between U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Qatar, Afghan women remain almost entirely excluded. Yet mostly unnoticed amid the formal diplomacy, Afghan women at their country’s grass roots already have managed negotiations with local Taliban leaders.

Gender; Peace Processes; Religion

View All Publications