Many Afghans are still wondering what exactly they will vote for on Saturday, and whether all of them will. While despite all shortcomings, parliamentary polls will go ahead on 20 October, the originally – and very optimistically – scheduled first-ever district council elections will apparently not be held.
Over the last ten years, the situation on the ground in Afghanistan has shown an ambiguous mix of instability and tentative signs of progress. To this very day, any future scenario bears the mark of uncertainty. How to assess the conflict and the political situation in Afghanistan? What are the broad choices for international and regional engagement? How to foster the reconciliation process with the Taliban?
Illicit drug trade is an integral part of the recent history in Afghanistan and Colombia. The past few decades have seen narcotics have severe social, political and economic impact in both countries. This paper outlines the development of the narcotics industries in each country and synthesizes the commonalities that have arisen from this shared phenomenon. It seeks to highlight lessons that Afghanistan and Colombia can learn from each other and concludes with recommendations on a way forward from the current impasse.
Over the last ten years, the mantra of experts and scholars highlighted the uncertain future of Afghanistan. The situation on the ground shows an ambiguous mix of instability and tentative signs of progress. To this very day, any future scenario bears the mark of uncertainty. The dynamics of the last two years, after the massive international withdrawal due to the end of the NATO-ISAF mission, are bound to recur not just in the next months but also in the next few years.
Iran’s regional strategy has been a matter of controversy over the past decades. The country has sought to establish itself as a key cultural, political and economic player that links the Middle East and Asia. Iran’s strategy in the region underwent changes due to the regional trends that have often been triggered by external powers’ military intervention, as well as the administrative changes in Tehran. The latest Iranian presidential election has opened a new door for the country’s foreign policy strategies.
Since June 2013, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have taken over major responsibility for Afghanistan’s security throughout the country. Recently, during the two rounds of the presidential elections they have proved capable of defending territory and preventing major attacks, a fact that has been widely seen as evidence of their progress. After the relatively peaceful 14th June runoff, many observers expressed confidence that Afghan army and police are sufficiently strong to hold off any relevant military challenge by the Taliban and other Armed Opposition Groups (AOG). Although their recent performances exceeded expectations, ANSF’s readiness to confront autonomously the challenges posed by insurgency and the ability to rely on their own capacity remains dubious. ANSF still face a complex set of challenges that derive from the economic, security, political transitions undergoing in Afghanistan. This study discuss the interrelated challenges to transitioning Afghan-led security by the end of 2014, the date that would mark the transfer of all combat responsibilities to Afghan government forces. A special focus is dedicated to the Afghan National Army (ANA), as it is commonly considered the most advanced element of the ANSF.
President Obama has recently announced his long-awaited decision about the American military presence in Afghanistan after the end of ISAF. 9.800 American soldiers will remain in the country in 2015 and a few thousands troops from other NATO members will be part of the new NATO mission (Resolute Support). In 2016 the American troops will be reduced by a half and the following year the U.S. will withdraw the remaining soldiers. European countries will apparently do nearly the same. In the meantime the new afghan president, elected in June, is expected to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S. and then the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) with NATO. Both will allow an international military presence in Afghanistan after ISAF’s departure. It is hard to predict if this light military commitment will be suitable to preserve the current situation in Afghanistan and hold back the Taliban insurgency. The process of Transition began in 2010, aimed at training and preparing the Afghan National
Security Forces (ANSF) to lead military operations in all the provinces by the end of 2014, although in part successful, cannot ensure a good security environment. Thus, the future of Afghanistan in the coming years is still uncertain. This ISPI study tries to shed some light on this uncertainty. The overall aim of the project is to offer an assessment of the current situation in Afghanistan and to consider the possible scenarios after the end of ISAF mission, focusing on some relevant aspects. First of all, starting from the essential challenge to the stability in Afghanistan, it offers an assessment of the
Taliban insurgency. Second, it deals with the major consequences for NATO of the end of ISAF and a failing Afghanistan. Third, it looks at the Security Sector Reform carried out in Afghanistan and the concerns about the ANSF’s ability to cope with security in the light of the international military disengagement. Fourth, it explores the effects of withdrawal on humanitarian and development assistance in Afghanistan. And finally, it looks at the regional context assessing the impact of NATO’s departure on Central Asia security architecture in general and on Uzbekistan in particular.