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  • Author: Peyton Cooke, Eliza Urwin
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Long-standing social and political grievances, combined with an unresponsive, factionalized government and abusive militias, facilitated the Taliban’s capture of Kunduz in September 2015. The fall of Kunduz raised questions regarding future political and security implications across the northeast region of Afghanistan. This Peace Brief highlights findings from interviews with a range of actors comparing what the government’s political and security response should look like and what it’s expected to look like, as well as offering recommendations for government and civil society.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, War, Governance, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Patricia A. Gossman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Afghanistan, the social upheaval resulting from thirty-five years of war has created widely differing narratives of the conflict as various communities and political factions have reconstructed events through the lens of their experiences. Extensive dislocation of large segments of the population and poor communication throughout the war years meant that Afghans often had no way of knowing what was happening in different parts of the country. Although the war had several phases, earlier transitions—such as the collapse of the Najibullah government in 1992—failed to provide an opportunity for investigations into past human rights abuses because the conflict was ongoing. As a consequence, documentation remains thin. Conditions have made it difficult for human rights groups to function; additionally, many records have been either lost or destroyed. Since 2001, a number of initiatives were launched to investigate and document war crimes and human rights abuses. The relative openness of this period provided increased opportunities to document ongoing abuses occurring in the context of the Taliban insurgency and counterinsurgency effort. The most ambitious components of transitional justice, as envisioned by Afghan organizations and their international partners, however, appear to be indefinitely stalled given the failure of electoral vetting and the silencing of an Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission report that would have mapped all abuses in the three decades of conflict. No single report or archive can provide a definitive truth about the past. Such an archive, however, can serve, however imperfectly, as vital evidence in the effort to understand the complex array of factors that have played a part in conflict. Better documentation and access to other narratives could provide a counterweight to narrow or politically motivated interpretations of past events that could seed future conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Islam, Terrorism, War, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Antonio Giustozzi, Casey Garret Johnson
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: 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.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Qamar ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent desecration of the Koran and Islamic writings caused violent unrest in Afghanistan and raises concerns about essential training in culture and religion for U.S. personnel. Basic knowledge of religious actors and their roles in peacebuilding and conflict management is still barely factored in by policymakers and advisers to U.S. government. There needs more effort by local, regional, and international religious leaders to promote nonviolent and tolerant reactions even in midst of incendiary events. An assessment is needed to evaluate whether efforts at promoting inter-cultural sensitivity are working or not, and identifying processes for mitigating tensions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report reflects the author's research interests and several publications on security sector reform from a financial and development perspective. It is intended to lay out key issues and trade-offs in this area, and brings in concepts and tools of public financial management which are applicable to the security sector. The views expressed in this brief do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Chicago
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The numerous high-profile international meetings on Afghanistan since 2001 have helped keep attention focused on Afghanistan, elicit financial support, give a “seat at the table” to all partners, generate good strategic documents, and provide a forum for the Afghan government. However, the meetings often have raised excessive expectations; lacked meaningful follow-up; undermined their own objectives; prioritized diplomacy over substance; focused more on donors' issues than Afghan problems; oriented the Afghan government toward donors; diverted resources toward meetings; resulted in meeting fatigue; and sometimes seemingly substituted for action. These meetings can be made more effective by: (1) keeping to realistic expectations; (2) not expecting meetings to substitute for difficult decisions and actions; (3) having substantive, disciplined agendas and avoiding co-optation by diplomatic priorities; (4) matching objectives with the issue(s) the meeting is supposed to address; (5) ensuring quality background work; (6) focusing follow-up on key areas and a few simple, monitorable benchmarks; and (7) keep­ing the number and frequency of meetings manageable.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace Studies, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's history provides important insights and lessons for the 2011 to 2014 transition and beyond, but differences with the past must be taken into account. As the 1933 to 1973 decades demonstrate, the country can be stable and effectively governed, but that stability was anchored in the two pillars of traditional local governance and a centralized though weak state, both of which were gravely damaged after 1978. Given the country's history of chronic succession problems and associated conflict, the next presidential election, if successful, would be the first peaceful transfer of leadership since 1933 and only the fourth since 1747. Expectations about the pace of progress must be modest and the dangers of overly ambitious reforms leading to violent reactions recognized. Regional countries could derail peace prospects, and planning around such spoilers may be needed. The difficulties of reaching a peaceful solution during a military withdrawal, and the adverse consequences when such efforts fail, were demonstrated during the period from 1986 to 1992. The period after the Soviet withdrawal shows the potential and limitations of Afghan security forces: holding onto Kabul and other cities is probably the most that can be hoped for in the current transition. The option of arming and paying militias is dangerous because it opens the door to instability and predatory behavior. The Afghan economy is in much better shape than it was during and after the Soviet period, and a deep economic contraction in coming years needs to be avoided. Afghanistan will depend heavily on outside financial support for many years, and such support must not be abruptly cut back or stopped. Effective national leadership is critical during transitions. It is important not to overlearn from history, for example, Afghanistan's problematic experience over the past half-century with political parties, which are essential to successful democratic systems.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Islam, War, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Patricia Gossman
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan public, along with the international community, appears increasingly supportive of opening negotiations with the Taliban to end the war. The Karzai administration also supports this, as reflected by the June 2010 Peace Jirga held in Kabul and the 70-member High Peace Council that was formed thereafter. In spite of the talks, no one in Washington or Kabul has clarified what reconciliation means in practice, particularly with respect to accountability for abuses that occurred during the rule of the Taliban as well as those that occurred when rival factions fought with each other before the Taliban came to power. On November 10, 2010 representatives from Afghan and international NGOs, as well as the UN, gathered for a one-day Conference on Peace, Reconciliation, and Justice in Kabul to revitalize public discussion on peace and reconciliation among the government of Afghanistan, the international community, and Afghan civil society. The discussions revealed a troubling disconnect between the High Peace Council and Afghan civil society representatives who strongly criticized the Council\'s inclusion of former militia leaders among its members, the lack of transparency in its activities, and the lack of clarity in its objectives. These criticisms indicate that for a peace process to have broad, popular support, the Afghan government and the international community must make greater efforts to engage local leaders in a dialogue and account for the interests of communities and interest groups that are not represented in the High Peace Council.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Minna Jarvenpaa
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The proposition that a political settlement is needed to end the war in Afghanistan has gained increasing attention in recent months. Channels for preliminary talks with Taliban leaders have been sought and a High Peace Council created. However, despite upbeat military assessments, the insurgency has expanded its reach across the country and continues to enjoy sanctuary in Pakistan. Afghans increasingly resent the presence of foreign troops, and the Taliban draw strength from grievances by ordinary Afghans against their government. External money to supply military bases and pay for development projects often ends up fueling conflict rather than creating stability. For their part, President Karzai and many Afghan political elites lack genuine commitment to reform, calling into question the viability of a state-building international strategy and transition by 2014. Missing is a political strategy to end the conflict that goes beyond dealing with the Taliban; it must define the kind of state that Afghans are willing to live in and that regional neighbors can endorse. Knowing that such a settlement could take years to conclude does not diminish the urgency of initiating the process. Given doubts about Karzai's ability to manage the situation effectively, the international community needs to facilitate a peace process more pro-actively than it has. To be sustainable, the process will need to be inclusive; women's rights, human rights, and media freedoms cannot become casualties of negotiations. Afghanistan's international partners should commit to a peace process and lay the groundwork to appoint a mediator. This includes gauging the interests of parties, identifying actual participants in talks, and structuring an agenda. In the meantime, international military efforts must be realigned to avoid action that contradicts the ultimate aim of a peace settlement.
  • Topic: NATO, Treaties and Agreements, War, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Author: Noah Coburn, Shahmahmood Miakhel
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Currently numerous disputes at the local level are unresolved in Afghanistan, leading to local instability, a growing distance between the government and people and encouraging communities to turn to the Taliban. In March 2010, USIP began working with local elders, government officials (particularly governors and officials from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs) and religious figures to address a range of disputes in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces in eastern Afghanistan. These networks of elders, working closely with government officials and, in some cases, the international military, have addressed conflicts that include land disputes, criminal cases, and disputes involving the Taliban. Since 2010, USIP's Dispute Resolution Project has participated in and recorded the resolution of over 120 cases. The project suggests several methods for facilitating dispute resolution that rely on flexible networks of locally legitimate political figures which will strengthen the government, promote rule of law and decrease the appeal of the Taliban.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Taliban
  • Author: Deedee Derksen
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) aims to reintegrate insurgents in return for security, jobs and other incentives, but has seen limited results. Rapid implementation of the program has failed to address adequately a variety of political, employment and security concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Graciana del Castillo
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The longest war and one of the largest relief efforts in U.S. history- in Afghanistan and Haiti, respectively-are testing the cost-effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance in conflictravaged or disaster-torn countries. U.S.-led economic reconstruction in both countries is clearly off track and becoming increasingly costly and unpopular-both at home and in the respective countries. Reconstruction zones (RZs), consisting of two distinct but linked areas to ensure synergies between them-a local-production reconstruction zone (LRZ) producing for local consumption and an export-oriented reconstruction zone (ERZ) producing exclusively for export- could be used to replace the fragmented way aid is provided to these countries with an integrated strategy for economic reconstruction. With an appropriate legal and regulatory framework, ERZs-operating as free-trade zones- could create appropriate links to the national economy as well as positive externalities or spillovers. Such a framework would avoid the problems created by these zones operating as enclaves in Haiti in the past. By targeting aid to provide adequate infrastructure and services within the RZs at a manageable scale, countries could jump-start their productive sectors and create jobs and entrepreneurship in agriculture, light manufacturing, and services, both for domestic consumption and for exports. By creating dynamic and inclusive growth, RZs could help countries stand on their own feet, consolidate peace, and overcome the unsustainable aid dependency to which they have grown accustomed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Humanitarian Aid, War, Natural Disasters, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Caribbean
  • Author: John K. Naland
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Embedded provincial reconstruction teams (ePRTs) were small State Department- led units inserted into U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 2007 to 2010 to support military counterinsurgency efforts at the local level. During major combat operations in 2007 and into 2008, ePRTs provided important support to military counterinsurgency efforts. As U.S. combat units wound down these efforts and withdrew from towns and cities, ePRTs did useful-but harder to quantify-work in mentoring local officials. Combat brigades and ePRTs generally worked well together. However, some units were unsure of how best to employ civilians. The military and civilians also sometimes had differing views on issues of short-term versus long-term goals. Despite problems, ePRT veterans believe that they had a positive effect in both supporting military counterinsurgency efforts and helping local Iraqi officials prepare for self-reliance. Interviewees identified a variety of operational problems that detracted from ePRT mission accomplishment. The Iraq ePRTs are now history, but as the United States continues to use civil-military teams in Afghanistan, these observed lessons need to be learned and acted upon.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Graciana del Castillo
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The United States' longest war, in Afghanistan, and one of the largest relief efforts in U.S. history, in Haiti, are testing U.S. leadership in the world, as well as its determination to deal with fiscal imbalances, the debt burden, and economic malaise at home. U.S.-led reconstruction in both countries is lagging and becoming increasingly expensive, and it will not succeed without a major change in strategy. U.S. goals in both countries will be elusive unless the misguided policies and misplaced priorities under which reconstruction has been taking place change in fundamental ways. Each country is different and will need to develop its own strategy. Nevertheless, we have identified basic rules, lessons, and best practices that national policymakers and the international community should keep in mind to improve the provision of aid and technical assistance. During the immediate transition from war or chaos, reconstruction is not development as usual: The peace (or political) objective should prevail at all times over the development (or economic) objective. Without peace there cannot be development. Policymaking should be tailored to four major differences from development as usual. Emergency policies should be adopted without delay, aid to groups most affected by crises should be prioritized, corruption should be checked, and national ownership of reconstruction policies must be assured. For both Afghanistan and Haiti, a broad-based debate-including national leaders, U.S. government officials, members of Congress, military leaders, academics, think tanks, and aid practitioners in these countries-is urgently needed and should take place without delay, as it did at the time of the Marshall Plan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Haiti
  • Author: Noah Coburn
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: There are numerous sources of local conflict in Afghanistan today, but the majority cluster around a few issues: disputes over land and water rights; family disputes, particularly inheritance; and disputes over control of local positions of authority. Lack of capacity or resources in the formal justice systems has been blamed for the lack of effective dispute resolution. But the fact that disputes were resolved more regularly in Afghanistan before the war years, when the formal justice system had even fewer resources, indicates that other causes are involved. Lack of political and personal security of dispute-resolution practitioners and the increased power of local commanders, whose authority is not community-based, have undermined the traditional dispute-resolution system. At the same time, corruption and inefficiency have delegitimized the formal justice system in the eyes of many disputants. Afghans and foreign donors alike note that Afghanistan has both state (court-based) and nonstate (based upon a combination of customary and religious law) justice sectors, and it is often assumed that these systems solely compete with each other for dispute-resolution authority. USIP research shows that, contrary to assumptions, successfully resolved disputes rely on a combination of formal and informal actors. Indeed, it is common for disputes to move between formal and informal venues and to be considered by a series of local elders and, more rarely, government officials.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Scott Worden, Sylvana Q. Sinha
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent controversy in Afghanistan over the outcome of the 2010 parliamentary elections ultimately resolved the question of who sits in Parliament, but left a more fundamental question unanswered: "Who has the power to interpret the Afghan Constitution?" Ambiguities in the language of the Constitution make it difficult to determine who has the legal authority to interpret it. The Supreme Court maintains that the Constitution gives it the power of judicial review, but the Constitution also calls for the Independent Commission on the Supervision of Implementation of the Constitution (ICSIC), which the Parliament has mandated to decide constitutional issues instead. Without political and legal consensus over who has final authority to decide different types of constitutional claims, Afghanistan cannot achieve a rule of law where government activities are subject to consistent and transparent rules. Afghanistan must establish clear and unambiguous rules for constitutional interpretation to avoid damaging crises about political leadership and the separation of powers as the security transition and Presidential election approach in 2014.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: John Dempsey, Noah Coburn
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Stability in Afghanistan will remain elusive unless disputes between individuals and among communities can be resolved through peaceful and equitable means. However, state justice institutions are barely functioning in much of the country and are incapable of meeting many justice and dispute resolution needs of Afghans. Instead, the majority of Afghans turn to traditional justice mechanisms—including tribal councils and village and religious leaders—to address both civil and criminal disputes. In many parts of the country, including areas recently cleared of insurgents, the best way to make signi_cant, visible, short-term (12 to 18 months) gains in peacefully resolving disputes is to work with community-based structures. USIP has drawn important lessons from its work with Afghan partners to implement pilot programs exploring links between the state and traditional justice systems in four provinces across the country (in Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia and Herat). Programs designed to create or strengthen existing links between traditional justice bodies and state institutions can build mutual trust and harness the strengths of each. Donor-funded traditional justice programs need to involve the Afghan government while also accounting for the practical needs of communities to settle disputes in line with their own traditions and procedures, as well as Afghanistan's laws and human rights norms.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Legislative oversight of the security sector is crucial to ensure that security policies and expenditures are undertaken with full transparency, accountability and concern for other national priorities and popular attitudes. This is important in conflict states, particularly during peace or stability operations. Establishing legislative oversight is difficult in conflict countries because of the absence of historical tradition, the complexity of security agencies, the technical nature of the issues, secrecy laws and the lack of expertise among parliamentarians and their staffs. The U.S. Congress provides a model for effective legislative oversight of the security sector for other countries to emulate. Congress has developed the legal authorities and the traditions required to form an effective partnership with the Defense and Justice departments, the U.S. military forces and civilian security services. Due to the importance of legislative oversight of the security sector to the democratic process, the U.S. Congress provides advice and training to foreign parliaments and parliamentarians in security sector reform. Congress has important partnership arrangements with parliaments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, Kosovo and other conflict countries.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Georgia
  • Author: Lisa Schirch
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The intense challenge of coordinating government civilians with military actors in the International Security Assistance Forces' Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan has inhibited development of military relationships with civil society. The counterinsurgency strategy of “shape, clear, hold, build” invites civil society organizations (CSOs) to play key roles in the final “build” stage at the operational level. Yet many CSOs resist “coordination” in a mission and strategy different from their own. CSOs seek greater policy dialogue and “communication” with high-level ISAF decision makers, particularly during planning stages. An ongoing, high-level forum for civil society-military policy dialogue could help address tensions, provide a mechanism for CSOs to share their conflict assessments, and explore areas for possible collaboration such as in security sector reform.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Indonesia
  • Author: William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama's policy of a conditions-based redeployment in Afghanistan starting in July 2011 leaves him a lot of flexibility. The administration will likely decide to maintain the troop numbers in Afghanistan near the surge level next year, pending another review.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Noah Coburn, Shahmahmood Miakhel
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The need to engage local Afghan leaders and support community decision making has recently been promoted as a key element of both development and counterinsurgency strategies in Afghanistan. The resulting proliferation of community councils—commonly called shuras or jirgas— sponsored by different actors within the Afghan government and international community has decreased the effectiveness of local governance and rule of law in many places. Traditional Afghan dispute resolution and governance bodies are most effective when they are formed by local residents and genuinely reflect the interests of the community. Their legitimacy decreases if international or government sponsors create shuras or jirgas to promote their own interests. This paradox creates a dilemma for programs designed to foster good governance: how to promote community self-rule that reflects traditional values and mechanisms and that develop locally, while adhering to rigid counterinsurgency and development timelines and strategies. These so-called 'traditional' political structures have an important place in local governance in Afghanistan, but the international community should not assume that such bodies fairly represent their respective communities. Rather, sound understanding of local dynamics and in-depth consultation with local government actors and community leaders are necessary to help ensure that such bodies are represented and thus, legitimate within the community. A more coherent, sustainable vision of long-term local governance and coordinated strategies between the Afghan government and international forces is necessary to bring both stability and development to Afghanistan. In particular, this Peace Brief supports the attempts to create a coherent long-term goal of local governance based on legitimate local actors, most likely selected through elections.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Scott Worden
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On September 18, Afghanistan held its second parliamentary elections since the fall of the Taliban. Like last year's vote, these elections were marked by high levels of violence, low turnout and widespread reports of fraud.Despite the challenges, however, Afghans across the country defied Taliban threats and overcame problems with the electoral administration to signal their support for the democratic process. Participation appeared higher among the youth demographic, which is a promising sign for the future of democratic processes in Afghanistan. It is still too early to tell whether the quality of the elections was better than the flawed 2009 process, but the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has improved its procedures and transparency both before and after the elections, and has so far helped to restore the credibility of the institution as a neutral administrator of the electoral process. Meanwhile, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is again under-resourced, has had little time to establish and train the Provincial Electoral Complaints Commissions (PECCs) that will be adjudicating the 4,200 election day complaints, and has yet to make public its decisions regarding the campaign or polling complaints.The ultimate success of the 2010 elections depends less on the level of fraud that was committed on election day-which was bound to be high-and more on the way in which the fraud is handled by the IEC and ECC. If they are transparent and honest about the problems, and take responsible corrective action, then the elections can be considered a partial success despite its flaws.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Seth G. Jones, C. Christine Fair
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: More than seven years after U.S. forces entered Afghanistan, important gains made in bringing stability and democracy to Afghanistan are imperiled. While there have been some positive developments in such areas as economic growth, the Taliban and other insurgent groups have gained some ground in the country and in neighboring Pakistan, the drug trade remains a significant problem, and corruption has worsened in the Afghan government. According to United Nations data, insurgent incidents have increased every year since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban regime. The situation in parts of Afghanistan's south and east is particularly concerning because of the twin menace of insurgent and criminal activity. Despite these challenges, the insurgency remains deeply fractured among a range of groups, and most have little support among the Afghan population. This presents an opportunity for Afghans and the international community to turn the situation around.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Development, Economics, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: J Alexander Thier, John Dempsey
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The current political crisis over elections in Afghanistan stems, in part, from a fundamental gap in Afghanistan's legal and political system: lack of agreement on what entity(s) has the power to resolve constitutional disputes, and how that power is accessed. Without a clear path to settling constitutional disagreements, the system becomes deadlocked as disputes arise, exacerbating tensions between Afghanistan's fragile institutions and factionalized political elite.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Political Violence, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In seven years, the Afghan National Police forces have grown to 68,000 personnel, with a target end strength of 86,000. The ANP includes the uniformed police force, which is responsible for general police duties, and specialized police forces, which deal with public order, counternarcotics, terrorism, and border control. Despite the impressive growth in numbers, the expenditure of $10 billion in international police assistance, and the involvement of the United States, the European Union, and multiple donors, the ANP is riddled with corruption and generally unable to protect Afghan citizens, control crime, or deal with the growing insurgency. The European Union has replaced Germany as the lead partner for police reform, but the United States has the largest police program, which is directed by the U.S. military. Putting soldiers in charge of police training has led to militarization of the ANP and its use as a counterinsurgency force. Using improperly trained, equipped, and supported ANP patrol men as “little soldiers” has resulted in the police suffering three times as many casualties as the Afghan National Army. Police are assigned in small numbers to isolated posts without backup and are targeted by the insurgents. Beyond funding the Taliban, the explosion in Afghan narcotics production fueled widespread corruption in the Afghan government and police. Drug abuse by police officers became increasingly common as did other forms of criminal behavior. Challenges facing the ANP were further compounded by a proliferation of bilateral police assistance programs that reflected the policing practices of donor countries. These efforts often were not coordinated with the larger U.S. and EU programs, creating confusion for the ANP. The Obama administration has acknowledged the importance of the police and announced its intentions to expand and improve the ANP as a key part of its plan for stabilizing Afghanistan. It should do this as part of a broader international community approach to police assistance that embraces a comprehensive program for security sector reform and rule of law.
  • Topic: Security, War, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Europe, Asia
  • Author: J Alexander Thier, William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: By all accounts, the civilian role in creating a stable Afghanistan, capable of protecting its citizens and providing essential services, is at least as important as the military operation.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: J Alexander Thier, Azita Ranjbar
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing discusses the enormous problem of civilian casualties in Afghanistan; the “troops-in-contact” dilemma regarding air power; challenges in intelligence gathering; losses in the information war with Taliban forces; and policy recommendations to mitigate this trend.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Sam Parker, Rusty Barber
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since their 2005 inception in Iraq, PRTs have struggled to fully define their mission, overcome structural problems, learn to work alongside their military counterparts and assist Iraqis down the path to self-governance and stability so that U.S. forces can withdraw. While the concept was born in the Afghan conflict, PRTs in Iraq bear little resemblance to their Afghan cousins, which are led and largely staffed by military officers. PRTs in Iraq are largely civilian-led and are required to address a host of issues including local governance, economic and women's development, health, agriculture, rule of law and education. In this respect, they resemble mini development task forces, harnessing civilian expertise sourced from the U.S. and augmented by military civil affairs officers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Economics, Health, Terrorism, War, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Scott Worden, Rachel Ray Steele
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Documentation centers dedicated to researching, recording, archiving and protecting information related to mass crimes and human rights abuse conflict have been organized in countries as diverse as Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala and Iraq. Their work is an integral part of a transition from an authoritarian regime or war to sustainable peace. Victims want to tell what happened to them, be acknowledged, and know how and why atrocities occurred. Moreover, an accurate accounting of past crimes applies pressure to remove perpetrators from power and raises awareness toward preventing future abuse.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, War, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asia, Asia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia, Guatemala, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Perito, Beth Cole
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In the State of the Union address this year, President Bush joined calls for a U.S. civilian reserve corps that could rapidly deploy to restore public order and begin reconstituting the institutions of governance so desperately needed in states emerging from conflict. The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) at the U.S. Department of State was created in part for this purpose, but it has never received adequate resources. The current challenge of locating qualified and willing civilians to join Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan has given renewed impetus to initiatives aimed at overcoming this chronic shortcoming.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Political Economy, War, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Beth Cole, Catherine Morris
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan supplies more than 90 percent of the world's opium. Despite concerted efforts to tackle the drug problem in Afghanistan, the industry continues to grow at an alarming rate, particularly in the south, where reconstruction efforts lag amidst poor security. Afghanistan's opium crop grew 59 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to UN reports, and officials expect a crop equal to if not greater than the 2006 crop in 2007. Overall, the industry accounts for nearly one-third of the country's economy and remains one of the chief threats to Afghanistan's security and development, as it becomes increasingly linked to corrupt Afghan officials and the Taliban.
  • Topic: International Relations, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Rachel Steele
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since the election of new leaders and the establishment of a new constitution, the government of Afghanistan has been trying to prove its legitimacy and ability to foster stability, security, and the rule of law. The Taliban resurgence is playing a major role in public perception of the government's competence and the role of the international forces. Understanding current trends in public opinion can aid in tailoring the international intervention to ensure that prior progress is not lost and that elements corroding the strength of the state are diminished.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, Taliban