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.

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