One Year Later, Taliban Unable to Reverse Afghanistan’s Economic Decline

One Year Later, Taliban Unable to Reverse Afghanistan’s Economic Decline

Monday, August 8, 2022

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

Afghanistan’s economy was already deteriorating before the Taliban takeover of the country on August 15, 2021, suffering from severe drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, declining confidence in the previous government, falling international military spending as U.S. and other foreign troops left, human and capital flight, and Taliban advances on the battlefield. Then came the abrupt cutoff of civilian and security aid (more than $8 billion per year, equivalent to 40% of Afghanistan’s GDP) immediately after the Taliban takeover. No country in the world could have absorbed such an enormous economic shock — exacerbated by sanctions, the freezing of Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves and foreign banks’ reluctance to do business with the country.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceEconomics

After al-Zawahiri’s Killing, What’s Next for the U.S. in Afghanistan?

After al-Zawahiri’s Killing, What’s Next for the U.S. in Afghanistan?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

By: Kate Bateman;  Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.;  Andrew Watkins

On Monday, President Biden revealed that a U.S. drone strike killed al-Qaida leader, and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend. Al-Zawahiri was reportedly on the balcony of a safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan. Last week, the United States participated in a regional conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan focused on counterterrorism, where Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said his regime had followed through on commitments to not allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for transnational terrorism.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

A New Platform for Afghan Women and Civil Society

A New Platform for Afghan Women and Civil Society

Monday, August 1, 2022

By: Anthony Navone

When the Taliban returned to power last August, many wondered if the previous two decades of progress and change in Afghanistan would temper the group’s previously draconian policies. But despite some initial rhetoric that hinted in the direction of reform, the Taliban have recommitted — rather than reconsidered — their repressive approach to governance. Over the last 11 months, the group has instituted massive rollbacks for women’s rights, as well as pushed marginalized groups further to the periphery in a country mired in economic and humanitarian crises.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderPeace Processes

Why Have the Wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine Played Out So Differently?

Why Have the Wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine Played Out So Differently?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The Taliban insurgency and U.S. troop withdrawal, and Russian incursions culminating in the February 24 invasion, constituted existential “stress tests” for Afghanistan and Ukraine, respectively. Ukraine and its international supporters have succeeded in preventing an outright Russian victory, imposing severe and continuing costs on Russia — ranging from high casualties to financial sanctions. Whatever happens next, the invasion has solidified Ukraine’s national will, status and orientation as an independent, Western-oriented sovereign country. In sharp contrast, Afghanistan’s government and security forces collapsed within a month after U.S. troops left the country, its president and many others fled, and the Taliban rapidly took over.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

How the Taliban’s Hijab Decree Defies Islam

How the Taliban’s Hijab Decree Defies Islam

Thursday, May 12, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Mohammad Osman Tariq

The Taliban continued this week to roll back Afghan women’s rights by decreeing women must be fully covered from head to toe — including their faces — to appear in public. This follows decrees limiting women’s ability to work, women’s and girls’ access to education and even limiting their freedom of movement. Afghan women are rapidly facing the worst-case scenario many feared when the Taliban took over last summer. While the Taliban justify these moves as in accordance with Islam, they are, in fact, contradicting Islamic tradition and Afghan culture as the group looks to resurrect the full control they had over women and girls when they ruled in the 1990s.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman RightsReligion

Pakistan’s Twin Taliban Problem

Pakistan’s Twin Taliban Problem

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.

Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban are teetering on the brink of a major crisis. Since coming into power, the Taliban has defied Pakistan — its main state benefactor during the insurgency against the United States military and the deposed Afghan government. It has done so by challenging the status of the Afghan-Pakistan border and providing a haven to the anti-Pakistan insurgent group the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis and seeks to establish a Taliban-style, Shariah-compliant state in Pakistan. This has stunned Islamabad, which was operating on the assumption that the Taliban would be beholden to Pakistan out of gratitude for years of support.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Intolerance of Atrocity Crimes in Ukraine Should Apply to Afghanistan

Intolerance of Atrocity Crimes in Ukraine Should Apply to Afghanistan

Thursday, April 28, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Kate Bateman;  Scott Worden

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has caused massive loss of life and destruction of property, forcing millions to seek refuge in neighboring countries. There is mounting evidence that the Russian military has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, intentionally attacking Ukrainian civilians. The urgent attention that Western countries have given to Russian war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine has the potential to provide some accountability for gross violations of human rights as well as to shore up a faltering framework of international human rights law.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human RightsJustice, Security & Rule of LawGlobal Policy

Ukraine War Fallout Will Damage Fragile States and the Poor

Ukraine War Fallout Will Damage Fragile States and the Poor

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The world is gripped by the Russian invasion of Ukraine — already the most destructive European conventional military conflict since World War II. The damage being done most tragically to Ukraine, indirectly to Europe (not least the burden of refugee inflows) and to Russia (including as a result of crushing sanctions) is only too obvious. But the repercussions will be wider — for the global economy more generally and disproportionately for poorer countries, especially those affected by conflict and state fragility.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyFragility & Resilience