The Taliban’s tactic of running out the clock on the U.S. troop presence may bear fruit after the announcement on Tuesday that U.S. forces will reduce to 2,500 by January 15. The Trump administration successfully created leverage by engaging directly with the Taliban to meet their paramount goal of a U.S. withdrawal in exchange for genuine peace talks and counterterrorism guarantees. This strategy brought about unprecedented negotiations between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban in Doha. A walk down a conditions-based path to peace, long and winding as it may be, had begun.
Libyans have taken an uncertain step toward ending nearly a decade of civil war, agreeing in U.N.-mediated talks to hold national elections in December 2021. The discussions, in the neighboring capital, Tunis, fell short of yielding a transitional government to oversee the elections and the establishment of a new constitution. The talks are shortly to resume. From Tunis, USIP’s Nate Wilson notes that the step is positive for a country that began 2020 with a surge in warfare and the involvement of foreign forces. Making this peace effort effective will require restraining that foreign involvement, he says, and will need to ground the talks in grassroots support.
In a year of Iraqi turmoil, including protests that ousted a government and rivalry between Iran and Turkey, Iraqi tribal and community leaders are strengthening a new peace agreement in a locale that has seen some of the worst brutality of recent years—the northern city of Tal Afar. Civic, tribal and government leaders recently agreed to a pact that can open a path for more than 60,000 displaced residents to return home and rebuild following the war with ISIS. The accord also will help curb ISIS’ effort to revive. And in a startling change, it was negotiated in part by women.
More than a month after Afghan peace talks formally began, the effort to end the war in Afghanistan is stalled, and no one faces higher stakes than Afghan women. The attempt at negotiations has snagged on preliminary issues, the Taliban have escalated their attacks, and all sides are watching the evolution of the U.S. military role in the country. Afghan women’s rights advocates say the moment, and the need for international support, is critical. U.S. officials have noted how U.S assistance can be vital in supporting women’s rights, a principle that can be advanced at a global donors’ conference next month.
As fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh continues to escalate, USIP’s Ann Phillips breaks down the complex geopolitical stakes that have sprung up around the conflict, which “has been simmering, and ebbing and flowing, ever since the implosion of the Soviet Union.”
Sudan’s transitional government has signed a peace agreement to end a number of long-standing conflicts and civil wars. USIP’s Susan Stigant says this is a positive sign for democratic progress, as “one of the promises of the revolution was to seek peace,” but cautioned that the real “work only begins once the ink is on the paper.”
The question of how and where Islam should fit into future legal and political frameworks has emerged as a major sticking point in the talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar. How this question is resolved will be closely watched by Afghans, who want to ensure their hard-won rights are not sacrificed for the sake of a deal with the Taliban—Afghan women in particular have much at stake. The international community will similarly scrutinize the outcome, and their engagement with Afghanistan after the talks is expected to be conditioned on the contours of any political settlement.
After seven decades of civil war and five failed peace efforts, Burma is no closer than before to reaching an agreement that would bring an end to its many conflicts. Analysis of those previous attempts shows that they all foundered on immutable attitudes on both sides. This report suggests that the peace process needs a fresh start, learning from the past and seeking to resolve underlying political disparities while prioritizing community interests and sustainable development.
Amid the world’s profusion of wars, COVID crisis and turbulent U.S. elections, a reader could overlook the century’s worst eruption of bloodshed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. But the revival this week of war in the Caucasus region should galvanize policymakers in Washington, Europe and Moscow to lean in hard and resurrect vigorous peacemaking for the first time in recent memory. While it’s unclear whether a full resolution can be achieved in any near future, this week’s fighting signals the risk of neglect: a dangerous, wider war.
During his opening remarks at the 75th U.N. General Assembly, Secretary-General António Guterres renewed his appeal for a global humanitarian cease-fire, urging the international community to achieve one in the next 100 days. But in the roughly 180 days since his initial appeal, most conflict parties have not heeded the secretary-general’s plea. What can peacebuilders do to advance the secretary-general’s call? Four key lessons have emerged over the last six months on how cease-fires can be achieved—or stalled—by COVID-19.