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Outlining a Diplomatic Strategy for Afghanistan’s Political Transition

Outlining a Diplomatic Strategy for Afghanistan’s Political Transition

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Jed Ober and Brian Katulis examine why the United States needs to better coordinate its Afghan policy from a diplomatic and political standpoint.
Jed Ober and Brian Katulis examine why the United States needs to better coordinate its Afghan policy from a diplomatic and political standpoint.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Aug 16, 2012
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1Center or American Progress | Outlining a Diplomatic Strategy or Aghanistan’s Political Transition
Outlining a Diplomatic Strategy forAfghanistan’s Political Transition
U.S. Policy Requires a More Coordinated Diplomatic andPolitical Approach to Match the Security Transition Efforts
Jed Ober and Brian Katulis August 2012
Introduction
Since 2009 he Obama adminisraion has renewed eors o sabilize Aghanisanand deal major blows o Al Qaeda and is aliaes around he world. As he UniedSaes and oher inernaional parners realign heir commimens in Aghanisan in hecoming years o mee broader global prioriies, responsibiliy or securing he counrysuure will shi o Aghan leaders. Te year 2014 will be criical or his ransiion as hais he year ha Aghan orces are se o assume ull conrol o heir naion’s securiy andhe scheduled presidenial elecion will produce he rs Aghan governmen since 2001no led by Presiden Hamid Karzai.o dae mos o he addiional resources and atenion dedicaed o Aghanisan haveocused on shoring up basic securiy—increasing he U.S. and Inernaional Securiy  Assisance Force, or ISAF, roop presence wih an eye oward srenghening he AghanNaional Securiy Forces. Tis eor has produced marked increases in he number o  Aghan police and soldiers, who by his all will hold responsibiliy or areas comprisingnearly hree-quarers o he counrys populaion. Tis securiy sraegy sill aces risksas demonsraed by he worrying spike in atacks his year by members o he Aghannaional securiy orces on heir inernaional menors and coninued insurgen atackson Aghan civilians and governmen ocials.Te diplomaic and poliical componens o he sraegy, meanwhile, have lagged behindhe miliary eors. Te success o he 2014 ransiion ulimaely ress on he abiliy o Aghan leaders o organize a diplomaic and poliical process ha keeps he coun-ry unied. Tis includes managing a ransparen elecoral process ha can resul in a broadly accepable oucome among Aghan poliical coaliions. Esablishing sabiliy in Aghanisan wihou he indenie commimen o signican levels o inernaionalorces requires a poliical sysem in which opposing groups see paricipaion in he
 
2Center or American Progress | Outlining a Diplomatic Strategy or Aghanistan’s Political Transition
poliical process as a viable alernaive o armed confic. Currenly, no Aghan polii-cal movemen—o include he governmen—has been able o uniy he counry andgarner signican broad-based legiimacy. A more coheren poliical ransiion sraegy is needed—one ha beter coordinaes he plans being made or an elecoral ransero power wih he eors o reorm and broaden paricipaion in Aghanisans poliicalsysem, and syncs miliary eors o hese goals.
1
Te Unied Saes and is inernaional parners have developed iniial rameworks orproviding long-erm securiy and economic suppor o Aghanisan rom 2014 o 2024,in wha is ermed a “ransormaional decade.” In May he Unied Saes and Aghanisansigned a Sraegic Parnership Agreemen ha se a comprehensive ramework or bilaeral relaion and he NAO Summi in Chicago rearmed broad inernaionalsuppor or he securiy ransiion process. Las monh he governmen o Aghanisanand he inernaional communiy agreed on a ramework in okyo—he okyo Muual Accounabiliy Framework—ha provides a oundaion or inernaional assisancehrough he nex decade by esablishing a se o goals and commimens or he Aghangovernmen and is donor sponsors. Tese are all essenial building blocks or a success-ul ransiion and he long-erm sabiliy o Aghanisan.Bu less han wo years beore pivoal elecions, more angible acion is needed o rans-lae hese commimens ino poliical acion. Tus ar, serious planning on he par o he inernaional communiy or he upcoming presidenial elecions remains in nascensages. Diplomaic oureach o aliban elemens and oher movemens currenly opera-ing ouside o he Aghan poliical and consiuional ramework have no ye producedmajor sraegic breakhroughs. Regional diplomaic eors o develop a more uniedplan o suppor Aghanisans ransiion winessed a he 2011 November conerence inIsanbul have no resuled in an implemenaion plan or he many commimens madehere. All o hese eors—he reorms o ormal poliical insiuions and processes, hemuliple eors o engage elemens o he aliban, and he atemps o garner consruc-ive suppor or Aghanisan’s ransiion rom is neighbors, paricularly Pakisan—needo be beter coordinaed and more eecively synchronized.Te op prioriy or he inernaional communiy and he governmen o Aghanisanshould be o develop an inclusive poliical process resuling in improvemens in Aghanisans poliical processes prior o he 2014 presidenial elecion and coninuinghroughou he ransormaional decade o ollow. Te eeciveness o his eor will goa long way o deermining wheher he resuls o he 2014 presidenial elecion will be broadly accepable o a wide range o Aghan poliical acors, and wheher he progresso he las decade can susain isel in he absence o inernaional orces.
 
3Center or American Progress | Outlining a Diplomatic Strategy or Aghanistan’s Political Transition
Important building blocks: the Strategic Partnership Agreement, NATO’sChicago summit and the Tokyo conference
 While much has been done so ar in 2012 o lay he oundaion or success in 2014, heinernaional communiy and he governmen o Aghanisan will sill ace serious chal-lenges over he nex wo years as Aghanisan ransiions o greaer sel-reliance. TeU.S.-Aghanisan Sraegic Parnership Agreemen provides a criical oundaion or U.Sengagemen in Aghanisan beyond 2014 by clariying he wo counries’ muual goals. TeSraegic Parnership Agreemen oulines commimens across he broad range o U.S.- Aghan engagemen, mos noably on securiy, in addiion o addressing issues o social andeconomic developmen, governance, and democracy. Many o hese commimens wereechoed by he NAO alliance as a whole during is summi held his pas May in Chicago.Following up on he Chicago Summi, world leaders gahered on July 8 in okyo omake nancial pledges o suppor Aghanisans ransiion o economic and poliicalsel-reliance. Inernaional donors responded o Aghanisan’s need or nancial assis-ance by pledging $16 billion o he counry hrough 2015. Troughou he erm o he pledge, up o 20 percen o he assisance could be provided hrough programs harequire he governmen o Aghanisan o mee cerain benchmarks o reduce corrup-ion and increase ransparency. Te pledge was accompanied by he adopion o heokyo Muual Accounabiliy Framework, which requires he monioring o he Aghangovernmen’s perormance in ve major areas.1. Represenaional democracy and equiable elecions2. Governance, rule o law, and human righs3. Inegriy o public nance and commercial banking4. Governmen revenues, budge execuion, and subnaional governance5. Inclusive and susained growh and developmenProgress in hese ve areas will be moniored hrough he exising Join Coordinaionand Monioring Body, a join Aghan-U.N. coordinaion body originally esablished omonior implemenaion o Aghanisan’s Naional Developmen Sraegy.Like he Sraegic Parnership Agreemen, he okyo ramework provides an impor-an oundaion or coninued inernaional assisance hroughou Aghanisan’sransiion o sel-reliance. Te inernaional communiy deserves recogniion oresablishing long-called-or condiions on assisance and discree benchmarks andindicaors by which o monior Aghanisan’s progress oward meeing is commi-mens. Te challenge now lies in implemening hese pledges and building hem inoa larger poliical sraegy. Weaknesses in Aghanisan’s poliical sysem have hamperedreconciliaion eors and pose a serious hrea o long-erm sabiliy as he counry prepares or he wihdrawal o inernaional orces.

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