Small Wars Journal


USIP: How to Prevent Fresh Hostilities as Afghan Peace Talks Progress

Ensuring the Taliban do not seek a battlefield victory will require sustained U.S. attention and resources.

Meghan L. O’Sullivan; Vikram J. Singh; Johnny Walsh

Full Article:

Many peace processes experience at least short-term reversions to violence. Even a successful Afghan peace process will be at risk of the same, especially in the likely event that the United States and its allies continue to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Ideally, such troop reductions would move in parallel with de-escalatory measures by the Taliban and other armed actors on the ground. A healthy dose of realism is in order, however. Though the Taliban and others in Afghanistan are unlikely to ever fully disarm or demobilize, persistent resources and attention from the United States and its allies can help prevent any regression to full-scale violence during the years of any peace agreement’s implementation.

As the Afghanistan peace negotiations (APN) progress, there is considerable focus on the details of the U.S. troop drawdown, but less attention is given to parallel moves the Taliban may make as the U.S. military capacity to challenge it diminishes. To ensure a lasting peace, the United States and its partners should strive to minimize the possibility that, once international forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban remobilize and seek a battlefield victory.

Riley.C.Murray Wed, 02/17/2021 - 7:11pm
USIP: Afghanistan Study Group Final Report: A Pathway for Peace in Afghanistan

In December 2019, Congress established the Afghanistan Study Group and tasked it with identifying policy recommendations that “consider the implications of a peace settlement, or the failure to reach a settlement, on U.S. policy, resources, and commitments in Afghanistan.”

Full Report:

Riley.C.Murray Fri, 02/05/2021 - 10:07pm
Clearance Jobs News: ANDSF Versus the Taliban Militia: If Peace Talks Fail

By Jason Criss Hawk


Full Article:

Riley.C.Murray Fri, 01/29/2021 - 6:00pm
SOF News: Afghan Conflict Update – January 2021

A roundup of news, analysis, and commentary about the war in Afghanistan.



-A report the the U.S. Treasury Department that Al Qaeda is gaining strength in Afghanistan

-Assassination threats against Afghan Journalists

-Released Taliban prisoners being recaptured

-A net assessment of the ANSDF and the Taliban

-The beginnings of the new adminstration's approach to Afghanistan

-Updates on peace talks

Riley.C.Murray Fri, 01/29/2021 - 5:56pm

The Case for Maintaining an Advisory Presence in Afghanistan

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 9:35am
Barring an unforeseen event or shift in policy, it seems likely that by May 2021, the United States will remove its military forces from Afghanistan. Despite claims of progress, the United States and its allies have undeniably made many mistakes over the past two decades. Some commentators have argued that Afghanistan has been an “undeniable failure.” While many commentators and policymakers have focused on getting out of Afghanistan, the past shows the potentially devastating consequences such actions could bring. Instead, the United States and its NATO allies should consider leaving a small presence of advisors to support institutional development at the ministries and institutions.

About the Author(s)

Coronavirus in Afghanistan: An Opportunity to Build Trust with the Taliban? SWJED Fri, 04/17/2020 - 9:01am
The COVID-19 crisis comes at a critical juncture for Afghanistan. The disputed 2019 presidential election has led to a stalemate between incumbent President Ghani and the chief executive of the last government, Abdullah Abdullah, both of whom claim the right to govern. At a time when the Afghan government should be focused on the best chance to bring peace in years, it’s distracted by a political crisis.
Taliban Fragmentation: Fact, Fiction, and Future SWJED Mon, 03/30/2020 - 9:09am
For years, the U.S. military pursued a "divide and defeat" strategy against the Afghan Taliban, attempting to exploit the supposedly fragmented nature of the group. Drawing on the academic literature on insurgency, civil war, and negotiated peace, this report finds that the Taliban is a far more cohesive organization than a fragmented one.
Coronavirus Poses Yet Another Challenge to the Afghan Peace Process SWJED Thu, 03/26/2020 - 9:37pm
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s effort this week to bring the parties together failed and led the U.S. to reduce aid to Afghanistan. Amid all this uncertainty, Afghanistan is beginning to see the signs of a coronavirus outbreak, which could devastate the country given its poor health infrastructure and pollution problems. USIP’s Scott Smith explains how the coronavirus could further exacerbates an already complex situation.

Another Afghan Election Crisis and the Challenge of Power-Sharing

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 11:21am
Approximately five and a half months after Afghanistan held nationwide presidential elections in September 2019, incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and runner-up Abdullah Abdullah have held parallel inauguration ceremonies this week, with each side claiming the authority to form the next government. The current political crisis complicates efforts to open up broader power-sharing talks with the Taliban called for under an agreement signed in Doha at the end of February, as President Ghani seeks to consolidate his authority, and Abdullah and his supporters seek to claim a seat at the negotiating table.

About the Author(s)

U.S.-Taliban Deal is a “Massive Opportunity,” Says U.S. Negotiator SWJED Fri, 02/21/2020 - 8:51am
After a year and a half of negotiations, the U.S. and Taliban have reached an interim agreement to reduce violence for a period of seven days. If that agreement holds, the two sides will formalize a pact that would lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and a phased U.S. troop withdrawal. Although the reduction in violence is an important achievement, it is but one step on a long, rocky road to peace, noted current and former senior U.S. officials on February 18 at the U.S. Institute of Peace.