Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Afghan Peace Will Require a Neighborly Concert

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PRIO Policy Brief, 17 February 2021

PRIO’s Kristian Berg Harpviken looks at the players in this concert and comes to a pessimistic view:

At a time when concerted neighborly action for Afghanistan’s future is desperately needed, achieving it seems less realistic than ever. (…) The US is withdrawing militarily – with or without an intra-Afghan peace deal – effectively removing the lid that limited the engagement of neighbors in the conflict. A peaceful Afghanistan carries promise for all neighbors, while continued war brings risks of escalation, even contagion of conflict. Neighbors seem to be preparing for continuing conflicts in Afghanistan rather than investing in a path to peace. Significant political will and courage is needed to overcome the logic wherein conflicts in the regions surrounding Afghanistan are projected onto that country. (…)

Zalmay Khalilzad (…) has chosen to engage the countries either one-by-one or in various ad-hoc groupings. The underlying analysis here is that that approach does not represent a working platform nor a concerted will among the neighbors. (…) the reluctance of the global powers to involve other neighbors along- side Pakistan is quite telling. (…)

Afghanistan’s neighbors (…) appear to be taking steps to prepare for multiple scenarios, including cultivating their proxy networks in the event of a further escalation of war. Yet, there is little or no willing- ness, by countries and organizations alike, to fill the void that will be left as the US withdraws.