Based on more than 50 interviews with Taliban figures, the authors of this Peace Brief find that the Taliban have more resources and are better organized to disrupt Afghanistan’s 2014 national elections than was the case in the country's last four elections.

Summary

  • The Taliban have more resources and are better organized to disrupt Afghanistan’s 2014 national elections than was the case in any of the country’s last four elections. Still, there are disagreements between insurgent leaders about carrying out a campaign of violence and intimidation.
  • One group, led by Akhtar Mansur and tied to the Quetta Shura, favored, at least for some time, a more conciliatory approach and in the spring met informally with Afghan government officials to discuss allowing the polls to go forward. Another group, led by Taliban military commander Zakir and the Peshawar Shura, favors disrupting the election.
  • These upper-level divisions may have little consequence on the ground since rank-and-file fighters are either vowing to carry out attacks regardless or, as has happened in the past, may strike local deals with political entities to look the other way and allow voting to take place.

About This Brief

Antonio Giustozzi is an independent researcher who received his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and is currently associated with the War Studies Department at King’s College London. He is the author of several articles and papers on Afghanistan, as well as four books: War, Politics and Society in Afghanistan, 1978-1992 (Georgetown University Press); Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency, 2002-7 (Columbia University Press); Empires of Mud: War and Warlords in Afghanistan (Columbia University Press); and Policing Afghanistan (with M. Ishaqzada, Columbia University Press, 2013). He also authored a volume on the role of coercion and violence in statebuilding, The Art of Coercion (Columbia University Press, 2011). Casey Garret Johnson has worked in Afghanistan since 2008, conducting research on tribes, politics and the insurgency for an Afghan research and peacebuilding organization and serving as a governance advisor with U.S. Agency for International Development in Kandahar.

Related Publications

Rival Afghan Leaders Agree to Share Power—Now Comes the Hard Part

Rival Afghan Leaders Agree to Share Power—Now Comes the Hard Part

Thursday, May 21, 2020

By: Scott Worden; Johnny Walsh

Last weekend, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal to end a months-long dispute over the 2019 presidential election. The deal comes amid a spate of high-profile violence, including a recent attack on a Kabul maternity ward by suspected ISIS perpetrators. Meanwhile, the Afghan peace process has stalled since the U.S.-Taliban deal signed at the end of February. The power-sharing agreement could address one of the key challenges to getting that process back on track. USIP’s Scott Worden and Johnny Walsh look at what the agreement entails and what it means for the peace process.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Peace Processes

Scott Worden on the Afghan Power-Sharing Deal

Scott Worden on the Afghan Power-Sharing Deal

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

By: Scott Worden

A political deal to resolve the disputed 2019 presidential election was finally reached over the weekend. USIP’s Scott Worden says the agreement “is quite significant” because it will give the Afghan side “more political coherence to negotiate with the Taliban and, if implemented, it will show the Taliban they can’t divide Afghans.”

Type: Podcast

Democracy & Governance

Afghan Grassroots Activists Could Help Build a Lasting Peace

Afghan Grassroots Activists Could Help Build a Lasting Peace

Thursday, May 7, 2020

By: Ehsan Zia; Tabatha Thompson

Since the U.S.-Taliban deal was inked at the end of February, progress in the Afghan peace process has stalled due to disagreements over prisoner releases and complicated by an ongoing political dispute over last year’s presidential election. And now Afghanistan must confront a COVID-19 outbreak. But, the logjammed top-down peace process is only one piece of the puzzle to ending the country’s long-running conflict: there’s also the grassroots.

Type: Blog

Nonviolent Action; Peace Processes

Service Delivery in Taliban-Influenced Areas of Afghanistan

Service Delivery in Taliban-Influenced Areas of Afghanistan

Thursday, April 30, 2020

In 2018 and 2019, USIP partnered with the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), a Kabul-based research and policy organization, in an effort to understand how the Taliban provide education, health, and other services to people who live in areas where they are the dominant power. Based on a series of studies conducted by AAN in five districts across the country, the report also examines the Taliban's motivations as a governing entity and their implications for a potential peace settlement.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications