Defense Secretary James Mattis said in Kabul March 13 that, for U.S. policy in Afghanistan, “victory will be a political reconciliation” that includes the Taliban. Mattis’ statement sustains the public focus on an Afghan peace process following separate proposals for negotiations last month by the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. If the United States is to maximize the chances of ending this 16-year war, it needs urgently to pull China into the process, according to David Rank, who headed both the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the State Department’s Office of Afghanistan Affairs during a 27-year diplomatic career.
Secretary of Defense Mattis’s visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, follows a spike in activity from all parties proffering peace talks. Johnny Walsh shares his thoughts about the U.S. strategy to bolster the Afghan government’s position to enter into peace talks with the Taliban.
This week, President Donald Trump said he is accepting an invitation by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet face to face, perhaps as soon as May. Such a meeting would be the first between a sitting U.S. president and a leader of North Korea. Frank Aum, USIP’s senior expert on North Korea, told NPR on March 8 that the news made him “optimistic and terrified at the same time.”
The senior U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, Ambassador Alice Wells, urged Afghanistan’s Taliban to take up last week’s offer by President Ashraf Ghani to hold direct peace negotiations. “It is a positive sign” that the Taliban have not rejected Ghani’s proposal, Wells said—and a planned regional conference in Tashkent this month should reinforce international pressure for the insurgent movement’s acceptance of peace talks.
As peacekeeping missions continue to evolve to meet the demands of complex conflict environments, skills such as communication, negotiation, and mediation will continue to be critical in meeting the operational demands of modern peacekeeping missions, including protection of civilians (PoC) mandates, which have proliferated in the last decade.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on the most extensive visit to Africa by a senior official in the Trump administration. Tillerson will visit the continent’s two most populous countries, Nigeria and Ethiopia, both crucial to U.S. regional security interests but which face increasing fragility at home. He will also travel to U.S. allies Chad, Djibouti and Kenya, countries struggling with domestic political stability, and will meet leadership of the continent’s principal regional organization, the African Union. USIP’s Africa experts preview the landscape and key issues for the East Africa leg of Tillerson’s trip to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya, and note that broader U.S security and trade interests can only be served if the national challenges for peace and stability in each country are also addressed.
This week in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu successfully shifted the optics from mounting domestic pressure. Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen shares her analysis about Netanyahu’s warm reception at the AIPAC conference and his White House meeting focused on Iran. The conversation continues with Kurtzer-Ellenbogen explaining the latest hurdles for Middle East Peace and the anticipation for the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Plan.
The United States and China share an interest in seeing an end to the Afghan conflict that incorporates the Taliban into Afghanistan’s political system and prevents that country from becoming a safe haven for transnational terrorist groups. Yet U.S.-China cooperation on Afghanistan has been...
One hundred years after Nelson Mandela’s birth, his example calls nations and political elites to examine their failings in providing justice and hope to people worldwide, said Cheryl Carolus, Mandela’s colleague in the movement that toppled South Africa’s apartheid regime. Amid warfare across the globe, and alienated voters roiling the politics of democracies, “maybe it is fortuitous that we are confronted with these challenges in the centenary year of Nelson Mandela,” Carolus said, delivering USIP’s inaugural Nelson Mandela Lecture. “Maybe we will remind ourselves that peace can only reign and endure if there is justice and equality.”
Just days after returning from Iraq, Nancy Lindborg shares her impression of the improved landscape in Iraq after ISIS’ brutal occupation. Lindborg describes the unifying sense of Iraqi pride following ISIS’s ouster, but she cautions that if the government fails to become more inclusive and accountable, Iraq could fall back into a highly sectarian environment.