Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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15 September 2010: Matt Waldman’s USIP Peace Brief Out (with AAN input)

AAN admin 2 min

Field research indicates that the coalition’s military surge is intensifying the conflict, and compounding enmity and mistrust between the Afghan conflict’s parties, concludes Matt Waldman in his Peace Brief titled “Navigating Negotiations in Afghanistan” and authored for the US Institute of Peace. It is therefore reducing the prospects of negotiations, which require confidence-building measures that should be incremental, structured and reciprocal.

Here is the paper’s summary

• There are reasons for skepticism about government-insurgent talks, especially as both sides are known for abusive, unjust and discriminatory policies. However, given the constraints of counterinsurgency, obstacles to an anticipated security transition, and the threat of worsening conflict, the potential for negotiations should be explored.

• Strategies should be developed to deal with powerful spoilers, on all sides, that may try to disrupt the process. The form of pre-talks, and the effectiveness of mediators and “track two” interlocutors, will be critical.

• Pakistan provides assistance to, and has significant influence over, the Taliban. Talks require Pakistan’s support, but giving its officials excessive influence over the process could trigger opposition within Afghanistan and countermeasures from regional states. The perceived threat from India is driving Pakistan’s geostrategic policies, thus concerted efforts are required to improve Pakistan-India relations.

• Negotiations could lead to a power-sharing agreement, but implementation would be highly challenging, especially due to multifarious factional and other power struggles. An agreement could also involve constitutional or legislative changes that curtail fundamental civil and political rights, especially those of women and girls.

This brief is based on six months of field research conducted by Matt Waldman in Afghanistan for a forthcoming USIP report on the drivers of the insurgency and the risks, feasibility and implications of negotiations. The research was facilitated by Afghanistan Analysts Network, and funded by the USIP Grant Program and the Canadian Global Peace and Security Fund. Mr. Waldman was formerly a fellow at Harvard University and Oxfam’s Head of Policy in Afghanistan from 2006-2009. He was advised on the project by Thomas Ruttig, co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network. The author’s conclusions and recommendations are his own.

Read the full paper here.

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