AAN Papers

The Other Side. Dimensions of the Afghan Insurgency: Causes, Actors – and Approaches to Talks


In this first Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) report “The Other Side: Dimensions of the Afghan Insurgency. Causes, Actors and Approaches to Talks”, author Thomas Ruttig – an Afghanistan expert working on and in the country since 25 years – seeks to unpack the complexities of the insurgency in Afghanistan and develop a sophisticated approach to ‘talks with the Taliban’.

The report shows that the insurgency is not just ‘terrorist’. Many fighters are driven by internal Afghan problems: bad governance, alienation and an increasing sense of occupation. Amongst the Taleban, as the insurgency’s core, there are pragmatic elements. There is an internal debate and some Taleban look for a political solution.

The report recommends to explore how contacts can be developed without compromising progress made in Afghanistan since 2001. The international community needs to urge the Afghan government to take the lead in a coordinated and consistent strategy of ‘talks’ and reconciliation efforts. This strategy must include: options for outreach to all components of the insurgency; the establishment of ‘red lines’ (or principles of engagement) for negotiations; viable mechanisms that sustainably and honourably can absorb and integrate reconciled individuals and groups socially and politically. It needs to be embedded in increased efforts to enhance good governance at the national and sub-national levels in Afghanistan and working with Pakistan. All policies should be informed by the acknowledgement that Islamic terrorism cannot effectively be fought through alliances with Islamist extremists and corrupt politicians.

To download the executive summary, click here.

To download the report, click here.

Afghanistan Analysts Network, Thematic Report 01/2009.

Released 14 July 2009

Thematic Category: