Project: Afghanistan: Opportunity in Crisis

Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn

Political engagement and reconciliation should remain a priority for the international community, with the avoidance of a return to full-fledged civil war as its central goal.

Image by Massoud Hossanini/AFP/Getty Images.Image by Massoud Hossanini/AFP/Getty Images.
  • The priorities of political engagement and reconciliation have fallen out of favour during the past year since the failure to capitalize on the opening of the Taliban’s political office in Doha. The current Afghan government and its appointed body, the High Peace Council, continue to lack sufficient commitment, and no serious efforts are being made.
     
  • Given the impending draw-down of foreign troops from the country and the potential for new political realities that the election will bring, diplomats and politicians should renew their commitment to finding acceptable paths forward.
     
  • Reconciliation means engaging more than just the armed opposition. An important element is that the Afghan government is not united.
     
  • Talks between the Taliban and foreign governments are not the most important channels for dialogue, and continuing to prioritize them in US policy on political reconciliation in Afghanistan is shortsighted and outdated.
     
  • More thought needs to be given to bottom-up activities, instead of continuing to push the top-down process spearheaded by the United States.

The authors discuss the research behind 'Rebooting a Political Settlement'