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  • Author: Ali Jalali
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's presidential election was resolved in a U.S.-brokered deal that created a national unity government (NUG). New president Ashraf Ghani, by decree, created the post of chief executive officer (CEO), filled by Abdullah Abdullah. This has resulted in a power-sharing arrangement between two teams, the legal parameters of which will not be decided for another two years. In addition to its internal tensions, the NUG faces a challenging political, security, and economic situation in the country at large—one that threatens to be exacerbated as international assistance and U.S. military forces draw down. The formation of the NUG, however, also presents an opportunity for Afghanistan's leaders to redefine the role of government and institute reforms that can strengthen public support and improve the chances of obtaining further international assistance. To take advantage of these opportunities, leaders in the NUG could make a serious unified commitment to reforms and fully integrate the governing body both politically and professionally, despite the power-sharing arrangement that has been created.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Amy Calfas
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Women’s civic engagement during the 2014 elections reached an all-time high, with women voters constituting 37.6 percent of all votes and three hundred female candidates running for provincial council posts. Women’s political participation has been supported by the national constitution’s quota system but may be threatened by new constitutional reforms or a failure to nominate a significant number of female ministerial candidates. The new national unity government must affirm its commitment to implementing the Elimination of Violence Against Women law while increasing the availability of legal recourse and protections from harassment and violence. Still severely underrepresented in the security sector and judicial system, women can be supported with increased funding from the National Defense Authorization Act, gender- based violence trainings, and better facilities for female employees.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Mallory Sutika Sipus
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: One of the contributing factors to Afghanistan’s civil conflict has been the fluidity within military alliances at the sub-national level. This brief examines the circumstances of military alliances between insurgent commanders—what factors play into an alliance and how they are maintained, with assessments resulting from research from the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies and supported by USIP.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: For several years, Afghanistan’s economy and public finances have worsened, culminating in a full-blown fiscal crisis in 2014. Political uncertainties, the weakening Afghan economy, corruption in tax collection, stagnant government revenues, and increasing expenditures have contributed to the current fiscal impasse. In the absence of bold actions by the Afghan government along with proactive international support to turn around the fiscal situation, the fiscal crisis and its insidious effects will continue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Corruption, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Ishrat Husain, Muhammad Ather Elahi
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistan and Afghanistan are among each other’s largest trading partners. Though an agreement was signed in 2010 to strengthen trade relations and facilitate Afghan transit trade through Pakistan, implementation has been mixed, with many on both sides of the border complaining of continued barriers to exchange. Both nations need to improve trade facilitation through streamlined payments settlement and improved insurance mechanisms, the use of bonded carriers, visa issuance, trade financing, tax collection, and documentation.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • Author: Ann Proctor
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan’s media have evolved at warp speed since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, yet being a journalist remains an extremely dangerous occupation, as many have been killed and still more threatened with violence if they persist in their work. The growth of Afghanistan’s democracy depends on a functioning media. This report examines the situation and offers paths forward to making Afghanistan safer for journalism.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Communications, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Belquis Ahmadi
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Four decades of political instability, violent conflict, and socioeconomic crisis has had a devastating impact on Afghanistan and its citizens. As this Peace Brief explains, understanding the process of radicalization and the drivers of violent extremism is vital to designing effective counterstrategies.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Terrorism, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Susan Stigant, Elizabeth Murray
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: National dialogue is an increasingly popular tool for conflict resolution and political transformation. It can broaden debate regarding a country’s trajectory beyond the usual elite decision makers; however, it can also be misused and manipulated by leaders to consolidate their power. This brief includes principles to strengthen national dialogue processes and considerations for international actors seeking to support these processes.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Some say reviving the Afghan economy in a time of intensifying violent conflict and declining external financial inflows will be impossible. Expectations need to be kept modest, and measures must go beyond conventional economic approaches in order to be effective. This brief puts forward some outside-the-box ideas, which, combined with greater government effectiveness and, hopefully, reductions in violent conflict, may help turn the economy around.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Selina Adam Khan
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The December 2014 terrorist attack in Peshawar that killed 132 schoolchildren forced Pakistan to acknowledge the extent of its ongoing problem with radical Islamist militancy. Islamabad, however, has yet to implement a comprehensive deradicalization strategy. In January 2015, it took a formal step in this direction with its twenty-point National Action Plan in response to the Peshawar attack—a step, but only a first step. If deradicalization is to meet with any success in Pakistan, the national narrative itself needs to change.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Maral Noori, Daniel Jasper, Jason Tower
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2011, U.S. president Barack Obama announced plans to "pivot" toward Asia. In 2012, Chinese president Xi Jinping expressed his hope for "a new type of relationship" with the United States. A lack of strategic trust between the two countries, however, prevents critically needed productive cooperation. This Peace Brief addresses the misunderstandings behind this mistrust and a possible way to move beyond them.
  • Topic: International Relations, Communism, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Querine Hanlon, Joyce Kasee
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Throughout the Maghreb and the Sahel, governments are struggling to manage a security environment fundamentally transformed by the Arab Spring. Within this region, the efforts of governments to secure their territories and civil society organizations to create accountable and transparent security institutions have proceeded almost wholly divorced from each other. This Peace Brief shares key insights from the engagement between official and civil society actors both within and across borders to address these gaps, makes the case for working regionally to address the twin challenges of security and reform, and highlights how community-security partnerships offer one approach to advancing the region’s security and reform agenda.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Moeed Yusuf
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: There are few viable options for resolving Afghanistan’s conflict other than an inclusive peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Momentum toward this goal must be maintained following the “Heart of Asia” Ministerial Conference on December 9, 2015, where Afghan, Pakistani, and U.S. officials renewed their commitment to resuming dialogue. This brief discusses three key concerns that need to be addressed to effectively move the peace process forward and achieve a near-term cease-fire.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Central Asia
  • Author: Peyton Cooke, Eliza Urwin
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Long-standing social and political grievances, combined with an unresponsive, factionalized government and abusive militias, facilitated the Taliban’s capture of Kunduz in September 2015. The fall of Kunduz raised questions regarding future political and security implications across the northeast region of Afghanistan. This Peace Brief highlights findings from interviews with a range of actors comparing what the government’s political and security response should look like and what it’s expected to look like, as well as offering recommendations for government and civil society.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, War, Governance, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Princeton N. Lyman, Jon Temin, Susan Stigant
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Ongoing negotiations to end the South Sudan crisis cannot simply return the country to the previous status quo. For lasting peace, the negotiating parties and mediators will need to reach beyond national political elites and those bearing arms and invite active involvement of the international community. South Sudan needs to build national cohesion and address fundamental issues of governance, democracy, and human rights. Restarting the stalled constitution-making process presents an opportunity to achieve these objectives. Following negotiations, a broad-based, inclusive, interim government that includes a degree of joint South Sudanese-international community administration and management should govern and ensure preparations for new elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Poverty, Power Politics, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Raheem ul Haque
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistani leaders face serious domestic extremism challenges; more than 47,000 thousand lives have been lost in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan over the past decade. Effective counter-radicalization processes must take into account Pakistan's large young adult population (ages 15-29), which collectively accounts for at least 30 percent of the overall population. Youth radicalization in Pakistan can be understood as the product of an exclusively Islamic identity—meaning a majority of youth identify primarily through their religion over nationality— combined with a broader reactive movement comprised of militant, political and missionary organizations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Demographics, Islam, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Casey Garret Johnson, William A. Byrd, Sanaullah Tasal
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The still unsigned Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States provides the legal basis for continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. In addition to its substantive importance, the BSA is also a confidence-building mechanism. The delay in putting it in place is compounding uncertainty and further diminishing economic confidence during Afghanistan's already challenging and uncertain transition. Afghans' responses include, among others, hedging behavior (legal and illegal), personal decisions on whether to come back to or stay in Afghanistan, delays in investments, incipient job losses, declining demand for goods and services and real estate prices, and farmers planting more opium poppy.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Democratization, Development, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Michael Semple
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan Taliban Movement has publicly rejected the legitimacy of the April 2014 elections. The Taliban's military leadership has issued instructions to officials and commanders to disrupt the elections but has left field commanders with wide discretion on how to go about doing so. Many in the Taliban follow the electoral contest closely and comment on developments in terms very similar to how they are described by the political and educated class in Kabul. However, the anti-election sentiment in the Taliban leaves no scope for any faction to cooperate with the process. The Taliban will likely be able to intensify violence approaching the election, but not sufficiently to derail the overall process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Islam, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Noah Coburn, Anna Larson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's Provincial Councils (PCs) represent one of the best hopes for the future of local democracy in Afghanistan. Yet since their shaky formation in 2005, they continue to be overlooked by international actors preferring to interact with parliamentarians, ministers and appointed governors. The significance assigned by Afghans to winning PC seats has steadily increased over the last decade. Indeed, for many, the April 5 PC elections will do more than the presidential poll to determine whether democratic practices continue to take root in local politics. PC elections offer a chance to build local, personal ties and accountability mechanisms connecting to increasingly centralized government resources, and, in particular, an opportunity for a new generation of young, motivated Afghans to begin their political careers. As the locally-visible manifestation of the Afghan political system, PCs are the immediate face of democracy—or a lack thereof—for many Afghans. In 2009, with most news stories covering the widespread fraud in the presidential contest, the uproar over the fraud and delay throughout the PC polling process rarely received coverage on newspaper front pages. Yet those problems contributed significantly to people's sense of alienation and disillusionment with their country's political actors and electoral institutions. In spite of these experiences, Afghans are once again preparing to go to the polls. Voters, candidates, parties and local organizations are putting greater emphasis than ever on the process of provincial council polling—expressing concern about the prospects for fraud, mobilizing around their candidates and campaigning in earnest. If due attention to the process is not paid by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and by international agencies, popular participation in future elections could drop. Prospects for Afghan democratization will depend much on how these and future provincial-level elections are conducted.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Demographics, Development, Islam, Politics, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Scott S. Smith
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's democratic development has taken place within the tight embrace of international support and the conception of "free and fair" elections that comes with it, but Afghan and inter-national views on what to expect from elections have diverged in the past, leading to a deepening of distrust between the Karzai-led Afghan government and the international community. The run-up to the 2014 presidential elections has been shaped by this distrust. Nonetheless, with the breakdown of the reconciliation effort with the Taliban and uncertainty about the result of the transition process due to President Hamid Karzai's unexpected refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the April 5 election is the only remaining opportunity for a political resolution of the continuing crisis in Afghanistan. A more complete understanding of the 2009 elections—how they were and were not a disaster—can help to narrow the gap between Afghan and international expectations; and an understanding of some of the changes that have occurred in Afghan society since 2009 can offer reason for optimism that the election will at the least create space for political elites to address the root causes of the crisis.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Corruption, Democratization, Political Economy, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Deedee Derksen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A piecemeal approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in Afghanistan, with four DDR programs since 2001 each targeting specific groups, has yielded limited results, mostly due to an extremely adverse political environment. Comprehensive DDR is unlikely to work without a settlement that includes all armed groups. The success of such a deal would in turn hinge on the successful reintegration of commanders and fighters. Sequencing DDR in the conventional way may not work; reintegration might better precede disarmament.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Nadia Naviwala
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: PakVotes, a pilot project supported by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), used social media platforms and a network of reporters located in areas outside of major cities in Pakistan to track violence during the 2013 elections. The project offers lessons that could guide future efforts to use social media to record and publicize conflicts and the use of violence during elections and other major events. The hashtag #PakVotes trended for several days around elections, serving as a popular alternative news source to the mainstream media, which was not as diverse in its geographic coverage, sources or story types.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Non-Governmental Organization, Science and Technology, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia
  • Author: Dominik Tolksdorf
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Ukraine's weak rule of law and widespread corruption and nepotism, combined with growing concerns over a shift toward authoritarianism under President Victor Yanukovych, were among the key factors that triggered the Maidan protests. Many political conflicts and failures of governance in Ukraine are rooted in the weakness of the political and judicial system, including shifts in constitutional powers, over-centralization of administrative structures and a lack of judicial independence. The interim government should promote an inclusive, participatory and transparent constitutional process. Such a process could help de-escalate the current conflict and build confidence in the central government and its willingness to integrate all constituencies into Ukraine's political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Sovereignty, Political Theory, Reform
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Two years ago, the Chicago international summit agreed on long-term targets for the size of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and committed to continued international financial support until 2024. Since then, the ANSF have taken over lead responsibility for Afghanistan's security and have by most accounts performed well, taking substantial casualties but holding their own against the Taliban. However, the ANSF still rely heavily on U.S. financial and logistical support and military "enablers" in such roles as air support, medevac and reconnaissance. The Afghan government's failure to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States during the past eight months has coincided with, and undoubtedly contributed to, declining political support for the international engagement in Afghanistan. Not only has U.S. civilian aid in the current fiscal year been halved, but the White House recently announced a complete U.S. troop pull-out by the end of 2016, except for "normal levels" to protect the U.S. Embassy and oversee military assistance. That is close to a "zero option," albeit in 2016 and not 2014. The announcement raises serious questions about the staying power of international security funding (which would amount to billions of dollars per year into the early 2020s if the Chicago commitments hold); management of security assistance; provision of logistical support and enablers; whether Afghanistan's domestic revenues will grow fast enough to meet its own ANSF funding commitments; and timing of any future ANSF reductions in relation to possible negotiations with the Taliban insurgency. The ANSF (especially the Afghan National Army, or ANA) was largely a creation of the United States, which has advocated for and endorsed its current size and cost. It would be irresponsible to create such a force and then turn around and undermine it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Chicago
  • Author: Muhammad Quraish Khan
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Former U.N. peacekeepers are an emerging cadre within Pakistan's police who are precursors of professionalization and other positive changes in police culture. Given their peacekeeping experience, they are torchbearers of human rights protection in policing, and believers in gender equality and the rule of law. They have also shown an ability to resist undue political pressure by government ministers, politicians and interest groups. They form a resilient force when it comes to fighting the tide of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. This pool of trained resources may be utilized by the United Nations Department of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO) for the quick start of new peacekeeping missions. The Government of Pakistan could also utilize them for police-reform initiatives, imparting training and demonstrating best practices. Given the potential gains from police participation in U.N. peacekeeping, Pakistan's recent, self-imposed ban on police joining peacekeeping deployments in the future should be reversed.
  • Topic: Security, Culture
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, United States
  • Author: Palwasha L. Kakar
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the economic, security and political transitions take place in Afghanistan, it is essential to work with religious leaders who have credibility and moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public. Religious leaders are among Afghanistan's traditional "gatekeepers" for making local decisions, especially on questions of women's rights, and they can be effectively engaged. Despite the very negative reactions by religious leaders to women's rights at the national political level, some at the local level have shown continuing interest in women's rights when they are involved within an Islamic framework and have participated in protecting such rights. Effective engagement with religious leaders starts with respecting their opinions and involving them directly in processes of changing strongly held social norms on women's rights and other sensitive topics, such as tolerance and peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa
  • Author: Richard Albright
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The effectiveness of U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan depends on sustained funding commitments from the United States and sustained commitment to economic and institutional reform from Pakistan. Weak public institutions and poor governance have greatly impeded Pakistan's development. U.S. assistance should focus on strengthening institutions systemically. Direct assistance to the Pakistani government—through financing that supports specific reform programs and policy initiatives and cash-on-delivery mechanisms that offer assistance after agreed performance criteria are met—could incentivize Pakistani public institutions to improve service delivery. Pakistan's devolution of authority to the provinces offers an opportunity for well-targeted and cost-effective initiatives to incentivize improvements in provincial public service delivery in such areas as basic education, health and policing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Foreign Aid, Reform
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan faces a fiscal crisis that reflects worsening domestic revenue shortfalls since 2011, which could reach $1 billion in 2014 compared with the 2011 outlook. The massive theft and fraud at Kabul Bank, failure of mining activities to pay taxes and royalties, and mislabeling of some commercial imports as duty-free are among other contributing factors. Turning the fiscal crisis around will take time, but a legitimate, credible new Afghan government coming into office is essential. Quality leadership and management teams in the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank will be crucial for success. Urgent measures are needed to turn around poor revenue performance, including strong signals from the top, possible exploitation of limited new revenue sources, and cooperation among different agencies to reduce smuggling and contain revenue leakages. Accelerated recovery of stolen and lost Kabul Bank assets should be a priority, which could provide over $100 million per year of extra fiscal space for the budget. Reforms of the revenue system need to be initiated, including introduction of a value-added tax, and possibly reform of the revenue and customs services. Expenditures will need to be cut. This requires the elimination of unnecessary and wasteful expenditures as well as the meaningful prioritization of programs within a tight resource envelope. Additional international fiscal support will be needed to help stabilize the budget in the short run. Linking aid for the Afghan discretionary budget to increases in domestic revenues and Kabul Bank recoveries would make sense.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Foreign Aid, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Georgia Holmer
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Countering violent extremism efforts strive to prevent at-risk individuals from being recruited into or joining extremist groups. Identifying who is at risk and who poses a threat, however, is a complicated inquiry. In Kenya, as in many other places experiencing violent extremism, the young, the undecided, the coerced and others might—if properly guided—move away from rather than toward violence. Many at risk of becoming involved in violent extremist groups are too quickly categorized as an enemy and given no opportunity to move in a different direction. Empathy is critical both to learning why individuals are vulnerable to engaging in violent extremism and to creating the space and willingness in a community to help those at risk.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Somalia
  • Author: David Mansfield, William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With large increases in Afghan opium cultivation and production in 2013 and 2014, there is a risk that resulting frustration may give rise to a search for extreme but unproductive solutions. There are no easy solutions to the illegal narcotics problem. The proposal that Afghanistan could shift to licensed production of opium for pain medications will not work. Due to severe problems with governance, rule of law and security, opium licensing in Afghanistan would be subject to extremely high leakages. Afghanistan's comparative advantage in supplying the illicit market means that it would likely expand cultivation to meet demand in both markets. Afghanistan is a high-cost producer of opium, and prices for licensed opium are much lower than on the illegal market, so profits might well be marginal or even negative. Existing producers of licensed opiates— Australia, Turkey, India, France and others—would strongly oppose any move to let Afghanistan become a competitor on the licensed market. Even if a more liberalized market for opiates is envisioned, technological advances and modern techniques in other countries mean that Afghanistan could not be a competitive producer.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Turkey, India, France, Australia
  • Author: Arif Rafiq
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sectarian violence between Sunni Deobandi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan has escalated in recent years. Most of this violence is perpetrated by local networks, but the sectarian phenomenon also has important ties to regional security dynamics and transnational terrorist networks. Despite sporadic state crackdowns, Pakistan's leading Sunni Deobandi sectarian militant groups have been able to maintain a persistent presence thanks in part to reluctance among mainstream Pakistani military and political leaders to directly confront groups that are sometimes seen as serving utilitarian political interests. Despite this negligence, Sunni Deobandi militants have also established linkages with terrorist groups that target the Pakistani state, such as al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Rising conflict in the greater Middle East over the past five years has strengthened the sectarian political narrative in Pakistan and emboldened sectarian militant networks on both sides of the conflict.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan
  • Author: Trent Ruder
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Donors have increasingly sought to condition assistance funds for Afghanistan, particularly as a result of inadequate reforms during the Karzai administration. Since its negotiation in 2012, the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework has been the basis of most donor incentive decisions on Afghanistan. Donors need to consider who benefits from incentives, how resources and requests align, Afghanistan's capacity to implement reform, and the consequences of success or failure. Donors should both temper their expectations and minimize the linkage between highly politicized issues and incentive programs. Incentive programming is not a magic bullet, but it can help shape dialogue with the new Afghan administration.
  • Topic: Corruption, Foreign Aid, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Tokyo
  • Author: William A. Byrd, Javed Noorani
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Case studies of five ongoing mining operations show that Afghan mining companies are wantonly exploiting easily extractable mineral resources with little or no taxes and royalties going to the government. Revenue losses from just two sources —royalties and land rent —at the five mines are more than US$50 million per year. Total revenue losses from all sources for the hundreds of mines contracted to different companies easily could be hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The tendering processes, awards, and contents of contracts issued, contract implementation, and actual operations at the mines all showed clear signs of political interference, favoring bidders that often had no prior mining experience. Companies usually began extracting resources soon after mining contracts were awarded, without paying any taxes and royalties —even though the contract called for an initial exploration period. Companies did not provide the legally and contractually required documents, such as exploration reports and environmental and social impact assessments. Effective inspections of mines were not conducted, and companies were not held accountable for payments due. Sometimes mining activities precipitated local conflicts, resulting in violence and deaths; weaker local communities called on Taliban elements for support in one such dispute. Serious reforms are needed to ensure that mining activities are developmentally beneficial and that revenues generated are paid to the government.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Natural Resources, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Taliban