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  • 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: Patricia A. Gossman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Afghanistan, the social upheaval resulting from thirty-five years of war has created widely differing narratives of the conflict as various communities and political factions have reconstructed events through the lens of their experiences. Extensive dislocation of large segments of the population and poor communication throughout the war years meant that Afghans often had no way of knowing what was happening in different parts of the country. Although the war had several phases, earlier transitions—such as the collapse of the Najibullah government in 1992—failed to provide an opportunity for investigations into past human rights abuses because the conflict was ongoing. As a consequence, documentation remains thin. Conditions have made it difficult for human rights groups to function; additionally, many records have been either lost or destroyed. Since 2001, a number of initiatives were launched to investigate and document war crimes and human rights abuses. The relative openness of this period provided increased opportunities to document ongoing abuses occurring in the context of the Taliban insurgency and counterinsurgency effort. The most ambitious components of transitional justice, as envisioned by Afghan organizations and their international partners, however, appear to be indefinitely stalled given the failure of electoral vetting and the silencing of an Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission report that would have mapped all abuses in the three decades of conflict. No single report or archive can provide a definitive truth about the past. Such an archive, however, can serve, however imperfectly, as vital evidence in the effort to understand the complex array of factors that have played a part in conflict. Better documentation and access to other narratives could provide a counterweight to narrow or politically motivated interpretations of past events that could seed future conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Islam, Terrorism, War, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Antonio Giustozzi, Casey Garret Johnson
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Taliban have more resources and are better organized to disrupt Afghanistan's 2014 national elections than was the case in any of the country's last four elections. Still, there are disagreements between insurgent leaders about carrying out a campaign of violence and intimidation. One group, led by Akhtar Mansur and tied to the Quetta Shura, favored, at least for some time, a more conciliatory approach and in the spring met informally with Afghan government officials to discuss allowing the polls to go forward. Another Group, led by Taliban military commander Zakir and the Peshawar Shura, favors disrupting the election. These upper-level divisions may have little consequence on the ground since rank-and-file fighters are either vowing to carry out attacks regardless or, as has happened in the past, may strike local deals with political entities to look the other way and allow voting to take place.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Joseph Vess, Gary Barker, Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Alexa Hassink
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Understanding how the ascribed roles of men and women and masculine and feminine identities contribute to and can help mitigate violence in conflict and postconflict settings is an emerging field of enquiry in conflict management and gender and peacebuilding studies. This enquiry builds upon, complements, and significantly contributes to the work of the women, peace, and security agenda, especially as seen through UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Men are usually perceived to be the primary perpetrators of violence in times of war. Research indicates, however, that men are not inherently violent. This shift in understanding is contributing to a recognition that men are also victims and witnesses of many forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence. In expanding our perceptions about men's experiences, further studies indicate that this may help stop the cycle of violence. In this way, men can become critical agents of change to end these multiple forms of violence. Expanding knowledge of men's diverse experiences during war and the underlying causes and mechanisms that lead to violent behavior has important policy implications. Understanding the various paths to violence is particularly important when dealing with postconflict situations. Postconflict policies need to take account of these varied paths to violence and the notions of hyper-masculinity created by violent conflict. Policies also need to recognize that during conflict the roles of men and women often undergo radical change. Restoration to preconflict role models is often impossible. For example, in preconflict situations men derive much of their sense of identity from the fact that they are economic providers. In many postconflict situations, the economy is in shambles and most men will not be able to get jobs. As a result, in many postconflict settings, men and boys often experience a loss of identity leading to extreme emotional stress, substance abuse, and a continuous cycle of violent behavior, including sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Gender Issues, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Qamar ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent desecration of the Koran and Islamic writings caused violent unrest in Afghanistan and raises concerns about essential training in culture and religion for U.S. personnel. Basic knowledge of religious actors and their roles in peacebuilding and conflict management is still barely factored in by policymakers and advisers to U.S. government. There needs more effort by local, regional, and international religious leaders to promote nonviolent and tolerant reactions even in midst of incendiary events. An assessment is needed to evaluate whether efforts at promoting inter-cultural sensitivity are working or not, and identifying processes for mitigating tensions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Moeed Yusuf
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Out of the proposed alternatives for dealing with Pakistan discussed in Washington, one that seems to have gained some traction calls for aggressively playing up Pakistan's civil-military divide by propping up civilians while dealing harshly with the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). While normatively attractive, the approach to deal with Pakistan as two Pakistans is unworkable. It grossly exaggerates the U.S.'s capacity to affect institutional change in Pakistan and fundamentally misunderstands what underpins the civil-military dynamic. In reality, any attempt by the U.S. to actively exploit this internal disconnect is likely to end up strengthening right wing rhetoric in Pakistan, provide more space for security-centric policies, and further alienate the Pakistani people from the U.S. A more prudent approach would be one that limits itself to targeted interventions in areas truly at the heart of the civil-military dichotomy and that would resonate positively with the Pakistani people: by continuing to help improve civilian governance performance and by providing regional security assurances to Pakistan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Corruption, Islam, Terrorism, War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia, Washington
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report reflects the author's research interests and several publications on security sector reform from a financial and development perspective. It is intended to lay out key issues and trade-offs in this area, and brings in concepts and tools of public financial management which are applicable to the security sector. The views expressed in this brief do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Chicago
  • Author: Jelke Boesten, Melissa Fisher
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Wartime sexual violence in Peru is linked to peacetime gender inequality, which is strongly influenced by inequalities based on race and class. These inequalities perpetuate the exclusion of victim-survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the country's current postconflict transitional justice period, subject victim-survivors to postconflict violence, and reinforce tolerance for sexual violence in peacetime. If the international community and the Peruvian government recognize and address these inequalities, then Peru may witness a reduction in sexual and gender-based violence. Wartime rape can involve a range of acts, motivations, meanings, perpetrators, and victims. Peruvian legal and social definitions of sexual violence need to be inclusive of such variations and recognize that the internal conflict produced victim-survivors among women, men, and children. Domestic institutions should stop dismissing rape as a common crime and start prosecuting rape in war as a crime against humanity, as Peru formally recognized when it signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Building on existing legislation would send signals to the international community and to victim-survivors of the war that Peru takes its citizens\' rights in both war and peace seriously. Sexual violence precedes and survives conflict, which creates a continuum of violence. National policies framed within an understanding of this continuum would be better able to guide international, nongovernmental, and community-based organizations operating in Peru regarding programs that address intimate partner and family violence. Such programs are essential for breaking cycles of violence. Reparations and criminal justice are tools of redress that recognize suffering, resilience, and citizenship. While Peru is currently using these tools, they do not seem to apply to victim-survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. An inclusive politics of justice would break through this historical marginalization.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Peru
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The numerous high-profile international meetings on Afghanistan since 2001 have helped keep attention focused on Afghanistan, elicit financial support, give a “seat at the table” to all partners, generate good strategic documents, and provide a forum for the Afghan government. However, the meetings often have raised excessive expectations; lacked meaningful follow-up; undermined their own objectives; prioritized diplomacy over substance; focused more on donors' issues than Afghan problems; oriented the Afghan government toward donors; diverted resources toward meetings; resulted in meeting fatigue; and sometimes seemingly substituted for action. These meetings can be made more effective by: (1) keeping to realistic expectations; (2) not expecting meetings to substitute for difficult decisions and actions; (3) having substantive, disciplined agendas and avoiding co-optation by diplomatic priorities; (4) matching objectives with the issue(s) the meeting is supposed to address; (5) ensuring quality background work; (6) focusing follow-up on key areas and a few simple, monitorable benchmarks; and (7) keep­ing the number and frequency of meetings manageable.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace Studies, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's history provides important insights and lessons for the 2011 to 2014 transition and beyond, but differences with the past must be taken into account. As the 1933 to 1973 decades demonstrate, the country can be stable and effectively governed, but that stability was anchored in the two pillars of traditional local governance and a centralized though weak state, both of which were gravely damaged after 1978. Given the country's history of chronic succession problems and associated conflict, the next presidential election, if successful, would be the first peaceful transfer of leadership since 1933 and only the fourth since 1747. Expectations about the pace of progress must be modest and the dangers of overly ambitious reforms leading to violent reactions recognized. Regional countries could derail peace prospects, and planning around such spoilers may be needed. The difficulties of reaching a peaceful solution during a military withdrawal, and the adverse consequences when such efforts fail, were demonstrated during the period from 1986 to 1992. The period after the Soviet withdrawal shows the potential and limitations of Afghan security forces: holding onto Kabul and other cities is probably the most that can be hoped for in the current transition. The option of arming and paying militias is dangerous because it opens the door to instability and predatory behavior. The Afghan economy is in much better shape than it was during and after the Soviet period, and a deep economic contraction in coming years needs to be avoided. Afghanistan will depend heavily on outside financial support for many years, and such support must not be abruptly cut back or stopped. Effective national leadership is critical during transitions. It is important not to overlearn from history, for example, Afghanistan's problematic experience over the past half-century with political parties, which are essential to successful democratic systems.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Islam, War, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia