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Afghan Peace Talks

Afghan Peace Talks: A Primer

James Shinn
James Dobbins
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 126
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  • Book Info
    Afghan Peace Talks
    Book Description:

    The objective of a negotiated peace in Afghanistan has been firmly embraced by most of the potential parties to a treaty. However, arriving at an agreement about the sequencing, timing, and prioritization of peace terms is likely to be difficult, given the divergence in the parties' interests and objectives. The U.S. objective in these negotiations should be a stable and peaceful Afghanistan that neither hosts nor collaborates with terrorists.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5826-3
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    A number of recent studies have made the case for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan.¹ Both of us participated in one such inquiry, conducted under the auspices of The Century Foundation, whose results were published in March 2011.² In the course of that effort, we joined with a number of other American and international experts in visiting Kabul, Islamabad, and several other relevant capitals to hear firsthand from various potential participants in an Afghan peace process how they viewed the prospects, objectives, and possible outcomes. That study concluded that there was a sufficient confluence of interest on the part of...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Ambivalence, Convergence, and Negotiation
    (pp. 3-16)

    The paramount American objective in Afghanistan should be to prevent that country from again becoming a host to, and its government from becoming a willing ally of, Al Qaeda. The existence of other terrorist havens—in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen—has led many Americans to question what seems to be a disproportionately heavy investment in Afghanistan. Yet, in none of these other places is there a partnership between the local governments and Al Qaeda such as existed between that organization and the Taliban regime prior to the attacks of September 11, 2011. Operating more or less openly within a friendly...

  10. CHAPTER THREE The Actors
    (pp. 17-70)

    Any negotiator should begin by considering the views and perspectives of the other side: crudely put, what do they want and what do they fear? How is their policy decisionmaking process structured? Who negotiates, concurs in, or vetoes an accord? Looking forward along a likely timeline, what pressures, including political or military calendars, will likely shape their decisionmaking? Do they believe that time is on their side? As far as one can tell in advance, what are the likely “must haves” and what are merely the “want to haves”? Notably, what are the dealbreakers? Who do they think can ultimately...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR From Discussion to Negotiation to Implementation
    (pp. 71-80)

    Any peace process must pass through three broad stages: first, talking about talks; then, actually negotiating; and, finally, trying to implement the results. The process gets harder, and the risks greater, as it progresses. Those looking forward to the champagne moment of signature in an Afghan peace accord should prepare for a long, hard slog before arriving at that point, and an even harder one thereafter in seeking to implement the undertakings.

    The first stage has already begun. The Afghan, American, NATO, and Pakistani governments have endorsed the idea of negotiations with the insurgent leadership. President Karzai has created a...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE The Terms of a Peace Accord
    (pp. 81-98)

    The terms of any peace accord will likely involve a ceasefire and a release of prisoners from both sides, the removal of most Taliban leaders from the UN’s blacklist, a schedule for withdrawing ISAF from Afghanistan, the severing of the insurgency’s links with Al Qaeda, the “sharia-ization” of some elements of governance and some parts of the country, assurances for former members of the Northern Alliance, administrative decentralization, and political participation by the Taliban in the government of Afghanistan as a minority partner in a coalition (including some power sharing at the district and provincial levels). An accord among the...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 99-102)

    Of all the major participants in any Afghan peace process, the United States will likely feel the greatest sense of urgency. This is because domestic support for the war is waning and because the Obama administration has publicly committed to a timetable for military drawdown. All of the non-Western parties find the current situation—with the United States tied down and neither side able to prevail—tolerable. Indeed, for Iran, the current situation is probably optimal.

    Even if Washington feels the greatest sense of urgency, it would be wise not to show as much. Hurried American efforts to jumpstart a...

  14. References
    (pp. 103-104)