This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group experts Laurel Miller and Andrew Watkins about the Taliban’s recent gains across Afghanistan as U.S. and NATO forces withdraw, what this means for the war’s trajectory and prospects for peace talks.
To accompany this month’s CrisisWatch, Interim President Richard Atwood looks at the dramatic turn of events in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the danger of new fighting and its implications for Horn of Africa geopolitics.
Pakistan’s stakes in Afghanistan are rising as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to leave. All-out war after the withdrawal could push more Afghan refugees across the border and strengthen Pakistani militants. Islamabad should ratchet up pressure on the Taliban to engage in peace talks.
Peace talks in Afghanistan have only inched forward even as the pace of conflict has picked up. As the Afghan government and Taliban await clearer policy signals from the incoming U.S. administration, their primary goal should be to keep the vital negotiations going.
For Afghanistan's peace talks to work, the Taliban will need to shift focus to what they want, not what they oppose. They should develop clear negotiating positions on key issues and work to convince their members that peace requires compromise.
A federal government misstep – lifting a lockdown too soon – has placed Pakistan among the twelve countries hardest hit by coronavirus. Nor has the economy recovered as intended. Authorities should let provinces make more health decisions and focus on helping citizens in need.
One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan. Kashmiri militancy is growing, often with Pakistani encouragement. Allies should urge New Delhi to relax its clampdown and Islamabad to stop backing jihadist proxies.
Eighteen years after the U.S. war with Afghanistan’s Taliban began, all sides are taking the first formal steps toward a political settlement. From designating a neutral mediator to agreeing on “rules of the road”, Crisis Group lays out twelve prerequisites for keeping the talks going.
There was this idea that if you put a lot of resources into [Afghanistan] and a lot of willpower very quickly, that you can make what we otherwise know are long-term generational developments happen on some kind of speedy timeline that fits American policy priorities. And the world doesn't work that way.
My sense is that the Taliban [in Afghanistan] still prefer a political path, albeit one that for all purposes would be a capitulation.
You see a sense of surprise and alarmed reaction from regional powers to the speed of the Taliban advance, but the counterpoint is a lot them saw the writing on the wall as early as [Barack] Obama’s announcement that the US was going to draw down and withdraw nearly a decade ago.
The Taliban are strengthening their chokeholds around major cities [...] The fall of Kabul is not imminent. The Taliban is not an unstoppable military juggernaut.
The counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan had for years now become one of prevention, not one of identifying an imminent threat that must be countered.
It's a tragedy that the U.S. didn't get serious about trying to stitch together a peace process in Afghanistan much earlier, before the thread ran out.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group’s Afghanistan expert Andrew Watkins about the looming withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, how Afghan leaders are preparing and the challenges ahead.
Washington’s latest idea of a transitional government would be worse than the dysfunctional status quo.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
The UN Human Rights Council will soon discuss Sri Lanka, where the new government has scotched truth and justice efforts related to the 1983-2009 civil war. The Council should demand accountability for past crimes but stress that Colombo’s present policies may spark further deadly conflict.
In testimony to the European Parliament about efforts to end the war in Afghanistan, Crisis Group expert Andrew Watkins describes the current scale of fighting, Taliban policies and how outside actors can support the peace process.
Afghanistan’s fate hinges in large part on how the Biden team decides to approach the country’s conflict and its tenuous, still-nascent peace process.
Originally published in World Politics Review