[PREVIOUS PROGRAMME] US Afghan withdrawal analyses; Regional and global security implications
This programme is now part of 'Transitional challenges and Conflict Transformation' programme

The IISA launched ‘US Afghan withdrawal analyses; regional and global security implications’ programme in mid 2012. Since then we have conducted field researches, one to one meetings with policy makers, specialists round-tables etc on the issue. Key feature/objectives of the programme are listed below:

  • Creating ‘blue-print’ or a map of the regional wide strategic situation (situation analyses)
  • Observe and analyse post withdrawal trends and impacts on Pakistan, Afghanistan and the regional agendas
  • Gain trust and confidence through track II
  • Assess impacts of current US strategy on Pakistan and Afghanistan and its international security, economic and political impacts.
  • Analyse trends of global and regional militancy and Jihadism
  • Asses US-Pakistan and Pakistan-western relations and evaluate emerging fault-lines and/or conflicts in those relations and their impacts on international relations and regional/global security
  • Address and evaluate emerging global security issues emanating from that region, particularly in the context of the withdrawal and its impact on global security agendas
  • Use our expertise and direct/indirect sources and resources to influence and avoid emerging conflicts
  • Educate and make aware public and civil society organisations
  • Give alternative and Islamic-world led oriented approach to gain trust and confidence
  • Aim to resolve existent and emerging conflict and promote peace building

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ashraf Ghani; the challenges he faces:

A blog post by ‘Tariq Basharat’

 

ashraf ghani challenges

Ashraf Ghani-challenges ahead

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

India, Afghanistan and Pakistan; a new Triad?

“With the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, there are worries about stability in a region that remains a prisoner of its history. However, this region has also recently seen a change in power – in India and in Pakistan. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was recently elected with overwhelming majority in India. Interestingly, it last came to power in the late 90’s during Nawaz Sharif’s previous term as Pakistani Prime Minister when much progress was made in mending the relationship between the countries. Both the Afghan presidential candidates have expressed interest in working with other regional players, including India and Pakistan. With new leadership in India, relatively new leadership in Pakistan and a new president being elected in Afghanistan, these countries have the opportunity to break out of the shackles of the past and come together to maintain greater regional stability and security”.

India, Afg, Pak a triad

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Afghanistan’s elections and its impacts on regional security:

“As the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) prepare to withdraw later in 2014, Afghanistan elects its new President. This has proven to be a difficult task as the elections have been mired in allegations of ballot stuffing and electoral rigging. With the stability of Afghanistan in the balance, can this deadlock be broken?”

Afghanistan election

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

VIDEO: IISA Conversations | US Afghan Withdrawal Programme | Elections in India and Afghanistan

Afghan, Indian elections video

A discussion presented by researcher Azeem Ali and IISA Director Usama Butt on recent elections in India and Afghanistan and implications for regional and global security.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

IISA’s Annual Strategic Brief on Afghanistan available to view and download:
IISA ASB cover page pic
Executive summary; Annual Strategic Brief
Annual Strategic Brief; Full copy

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

06 Dec 2013. IISA HOLDS its fifth Specialists round-table with Médecins Sans Frontières at the House of Lords on upcoming humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan:

 

   photo_dod_humanitarian_assistance_5001 IDP-afghanistan300
IISA held the fifth specialist round-table on the issue. The round-table was held  under Chatham House rules. Below is the Exectuive Summary:
  • In Afghanistan, among other aspects of the conflict, aid and development became securitised. UNAMA’s mandate was created more in line with supporting the Bonn agreement than rebuilding Afghanistan or providing aid, development and assistance. Counter insurgency and the GWOT created an environment where provision of neutral aid became very difficult. In line with the ‘winning hearts and mind strategy’ aid and development became a crucial part of the strategy. ‘Securitisation of aid’ went along with securitisation of every other aspect.
  • The ‘securitisation of aid’ shrunk the ‘neutral space’ for international humanitarian agencies, which had no choice but to go along with NATO and ISAF. In so doing they became associated by Taliban and other militant groups with the ‘agents ‘ and soon came under attack.
  • Another important effect of politicisation and securitisation of aid has to do with ‘aid economies’ along with ‘war economies’. As development and aid was being used to legitimise the Kabul government or win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the populace, it quickly became another political and security tool. It created inter-community tensions as to who was getting what, and it overlooked certain areas while concentrating on the areas where security challenges were ‘greater’.
  • Securitisation and politicisation of aid then led to a ‘bunkerisation’ of aid which has become a norm today in most places in Afghanistan. Aid and development teams had to be embedded with NATO / Afghan soldiers or private contractors, which beats the whole point of outreach and capacity building.
  • Today, the Afghan economy is dependent predominantly on international aid and assistance: 90% of Afghanistan’s GDP is dependent on ISAF’s presence and over 2 million jobs are dependent on it too. There are half a million IDP’s according to the UNHCR, and most development (i.e. school opening) is associated with aid money.
  • The past year has been the most violent since 2009. In post withdrawal Afghanistan, hardly a week passes without casualties and injuries from bombs and drone attacks. The media has focused on the timeline of troop withdrawal, overlooking the harsh reality for Afghans caught in the middle. MSF left the country after the murder of 5 of its staff, and returned when the situation began deteriorating again. From what MSF has witnessed, conflict is escalating in many areas and displacement is increasing.
  • Accessing aid is equally difficult. People in Afghanistan cannot access healthcare, and it is hard to get a clear picture of humanitarian need in various areas because aid organizations are bunkering down in the country’s main towns. There are urgent needs outside hospital walls, but lack of security prevents humanitarian organisations from expanding their activities to reach those who need help. Entire communities cannot travel freely to reach hospitals, and many undergo extremely dangerous journeys to reach healthcare centres.
  • The withdrawal may lead to gradual collapse of the war economy as well as the ‘aid economy’. It is essential that aid and development agencies understand the upcoming challenges and create possible scenarios to mitigate further humanitarian suffering. The most likely scenario is of a regionalisation of Afghanistan which will bring multiple political players ruling parts of Afghanistan under a loose and weak central government.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

04 Nov 2013. IISA holds the fourth Specialists round-table at the house of lords. Topic: Transitional challenges in Afghanistan: Security Sector Reforms (SSR) and Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR):

Afghan SSR-DDR pic

IISA held the fourth specialist round-table on the issue. The round-table was held  under Chatham House rules. Below is the Exectuive Summary:

  • SSR and DDR processes in Afghanistan became counter-insurgency centric and interest led. Lack of vision and internal friction led to chaos and civil war in Afghanistan, highlighting the need for DDR and SSR. The Soviet Union left the Afghan army in the soviet image – the same mistake cannot be made post 2014.
  • International community led programmes – such as the Afghan peace and reconciliation programme – did not provide required results. DDR processes also largely failed. In addition, training of Afghan national security forces was given secondary importance. Coalition methods across the regions were differentiated, and there were perceptions that training Afghan National Police as opposed to ISAF was a waste of time/resources.
  • SSR would be unbalanced after 2014 according to the direction of the ANP, it has to be built locally. Trying to tailor it into something that locals would not identify with will be disastrous.

            Moving forward, the following steps are required:

  • Professional effectiveness: Training is important, equally so is education. Possible to build a new system based on education if former model is too tainted. Resources and persistence key.
  • Discipline:. State must have credibility to provide authoritative leadership, which needs political will from the populace.
  • Technical expertise from public & politicians: Building a body of civilian expertise through academics, journalists and politicians is essential to construct a transparent view of what the role of the police force should be.
  • Resources: if ANP is not sufficiently paid, they will be corrupt, and find other avenues for resource exploitation without oversight.
  • The role of external actors: Pakistan, India and Iran’s roles need to be taken into account. Dialogue must be created with these countries to ensure no regional dimension can bring harm to the post 2014 process.
  • The UN mandate needs to be strengthened: It is crucially important to include responsibility for the continued sustenance of the confidence building measures. More commitment is needed from the UN in the wake of NATO and the US leaving post 2014. Capacity and institution building, along with provincial reconstruction teams, should be secured with a UN peacekeeping force.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

03 July 2013. IISA holds its third Specialists round-table on ‘US afghan withdrawal programme on the following topic: Regional state and non-state players; Roles and implications in US Afghan withdrawal and beyond:

03 jul round table pic 2

IISA held the third specialist round-table on the issue. The round-table was held  under Chatham House rules. Below is the Exectuive Summary:

  • Iran has a unique ability to help in the post-withdrawal situation in Afghanistan although it must overcome some of the barriers that have been erected between the two countries. Iran has been trying to close the gap between sectarian groups, and as a regional power it may be able to make a significant difference.
  • India, another emerging power in the region, can play a significant role although it will likely not play a military one. Relations between India and Pakistan have improved in recent years, and India will not jeopardise this by providing security to Afghanistan. India has also developed a new relationship with China, and collaboration could help stabilise post-withdrawal Afghanistan.
  • China, the most powerful country in the region, has significant economic projects in Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. There has also been unrest from Islamic groups in China’s western provinces. For these reasons, China greatly desires stability in post-withdrawal Afghanistan and has been acting to achieve it. For example, it recently sent a senior Politburo official to Kabul, a move that clearly demonstrates their interest in the country.
  • The ISI and Pakistan military remain one of the most important players in Pakistan. The ISI however works mostly within Pakistan army’s command and control, in line with its policies. Due to the nature of its structure and attempts to redefine the structure (i.e. reforms or purges); the ISI lost its most valuable asset – HUMINT – earlier in the last decade. However it is now in line with Pakistan army’s policy on Afghanistan. The Pakistani army and the ISI will have to decide whether to give up Mullah Omar or how much to keep him in play.
  • Once the US and Coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the security situation has the potential to deteriorate rapidly. The regional countries mentioned will have to make a unified, concerted effort to keep the country from descending into civil war. Additionally, the ISI and Pakistani military will have to play a stronger and more effective role and use their contacts in the various armed groups to achieve success. Pakistan will also have to look inward and fix many of its own problems if it hopes to tackle those next door in Afghanistan.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Who-Will-Win-Election-2013-In-PakistanMay 2013. IISA holds a specialists round table on the issue of ‘change of political leadership in Pakistan; implication on the larger conflict’:

regional actors pic

Who-Will-Win-Election-2013-In-Pakistan IISA held the second specialist round-table on the issue. Executive summary below:

  • The Pakistani military may have differing views on conflict with the TTP than the new government, and it will be essential to include and confront the military command in order to create policy.
  • Military operations against the TTP make it difficult to advance diplomatically. The new government will have to balance its own military and diplomatic operations whilst simultaneously engaging the United States about drone policy.
  • Solutions for post-withdrawal society must come from within the countries. Exported Western solutions will not work and are not sustainable

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

25 April 2013: IISA holds a specialists round-table on the issue of ‘Talking with Taliban’ at the House of Lords:

  Who-Will-Win-Election-2013-In-PakistanWho-Will-Win-Election-2013-In-PakistanTALIBAN

In Tandem with IISA’s programme ‘US Afghan withdrawal analyses; regional and global security implications’ a specialists round-table was held on the topic of ‘talks with Taliban’ at House of Lords, London on 25 April 2013. The round-table attempted to understand the dynamics of negotiation with Taliban and other Mujahideen factions in Afghanistan and its impacts on the region and implications on the larger conflict. The round-table held under ‘Chatham House rules’ was attended by academics, experts, stakeholders and political representatives. The round-table explored the dynamics of the negotiation and welcomed the reconciliatory attempts on both sides whilst emphasising the need for sustainable dialogues with all regional stakeholders.

  • Iran has a unique ability to help in the post-withdrawal situation in Afghanistan although it must overcome some of the barriers that have been erected between the two countries. Iran has been trying to close the gap between sectarian groups, and as a regional power it may be able to make a significant difference.
  • India, another emerging power in the region, can play a significant role although it will likely not play a military one. Relations between India and Pakistan have improved in recent years, and India will not jeopardise this by providing security to Afghanistan. India has also developed a new relationship with China, and collaboration could help stabilise post-withdrawal Afghanistan.
  • China, the most powerful country in the region, has significant economic projects in Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. There has also been unrest from Islamic groups in China’s western provinces. For these reasons, China greatly desires stability in post-withdrawal Afghanistan and has been acting to achieve it. For example, it recently sent a senior Politburo official to Kabul, a move that clearly demonstrates their interest in the country.
  • The ISI and Pakistan military remain one of the most important players in Pakistan. The ISI however works mostly within Pakistan army’s command and control, in line with its policies. Due to the nature of its structure and attempts to redefine the structure (i.e. reforms or purges); the ISI lost its most valuable asset – HUMINT – earlier in the last decade. However it is now in line with Pakistan army’s policy on Afghanistan. The Pakistani army and the ISI will have to decide whether to give up Mullah Omar or how much to keep him in play.
  • Once the US and Coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the security situation has the potential to deteriorate rapidly. The regional countries mentioned will have to make a unified, concerted effort to keep the country from descending into civil war. Additionally, the ISI and Pakistani military will have to play a stronger and more effective role and use their contacts in the various armed groups to achieve success. Pakistan will also have to look inward and fix many of its own problems if it hopes to tackle those next door in Afghanistan.