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Afghanistan's Insurgency - SCT Article - Feb2010

Afghanistan's Insurgency - SCT Article - Feb2010

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This article was downloaded by: [University of York] On: 5 February 2010 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 903268926] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 3741 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713742821

Afghanistan's Ins
This article was downloaded by: [University of York] On: 5 February 2010 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 903268926] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 3741 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713742821

Afghanistan's Ins

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Published by: Steven Alec Thomas Zyck on Sep 25, 2010
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This article was downloaded by:
[University of York] 
On:
5 February 2010 
Access details:
Access Details: [subscription number 903268926] 
Publisher
Routledge 
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713742821
Afghanistan's Insurgency and the Viability of a Political Settlement
Sultan Barakat
a
; Steven A. Zyck
aa
Post-war Reconstruction & Development Unit, Department of Politics, University of York, York, UKOnline publication date: 05 February 2010
To cite this Article
Barakat, Sultan and Zyck, Steven A.(2010) 'Afghanistan's Insurgency and the Viability of a PoliticalSettlement', Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 33: 3, 193 — 210
To link to this Article: DOI:
10.1080/10576100903555804
URL:
Full terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThis article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
 
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism
, 33:193–210, 2010Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1057-610X print / 1521-0731 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10576100903555804
Afghanistan’s Insurgency and the Viability of aPolitical Settlement
SULTAN BARAKATSTEVEN A. ZYCK
Post-war Reconstruction & Development Unit, Department of PoliticsUniversity of York York, UK
The international intervention in Afghanistan has contributed to entrenched state weak-ness and rising insecurity. Despite increased references to the need for reconciliationwith the Taliban and a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, fewspecifics have been offered by academics or policymakers. Building on research intoconflict resolution and an analysis of the composition and motivation of the insurgency,this article addresses this gap by asking whether conditions are currently “ripe” for a negotiated settlement, how “ripeness” may be achieved, and, once achieved, how a political settlement might best be pursued.
In June of 1971, Roger G. Neumann, then–U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, sent a confi-dential “airgram” to his superiors in Washington. Entitled “A U.S. Strategy for the ‘70’s,”the recently declassified document provides a striking symmetry to the present situationwith its focus on Afghanistan’s lackluster leadership, weak governance, and uncoordi-nated international assistance programs. Neumann, had he not died a decade ago this year,may very well have repeated his sober, 38-year-old assessment today: “Although thereare a number of important factors favorable to continued realization of our objectives [inAfghanistan] in this decade, the unfavorable factors now outweigh the former. The currentlevel of program activity
. . .
is not sufficient to remedy the fundamental problems whichwill deleteriously affect our objectives.”
1
Indeed, Neumann’s son, Ronald, may have feltsimilarly from his post as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, the timeperiod in which the political and security situation deteriorated while the tools to address itstagnated.As a result of this stagnation, Afghanistan today faces numerous challenges relatedto political legitimacy and, most importantly, security. Despite such impediments, the vi-ability of a negotiated settlement may be greater than at any point since the signing of the Bonn Agreement in December 2001. Perhaps sensing this opportunity, the U.K. strat-egy for Afghanistan released in April 2009 highlights “the importance of offering a routeback into mainstream politics and society for insurgents willing to renounce violence and
Received 18 March 2009; accepted 6 June 2009.Address correspondence to Sultan Barakat, Professor of Politics and Director, PRDU, Depart-ment of Politics, Derwent College, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK. E-mail:szb1@york.ac.uk 
193
 D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ U ni v e r si t y  of  Y o rk]  A t : 19 :11 5  F eb r u a r y 2010
 
194 S. Barakat and S. A. Zyc
embrace the Afghan constitution,” a sentiment echoed in the Obama administration’s re-centlyreleasedwhitepaperonAfghanistanandPakistan.
2
Yet,thereremainslittleconsensusupon why a political solution, reconciliation, and negotiations are now seemingly so plau-sible or how these diplomatic concepts may be affected by an anticipated escalation in U.S.military engagement. This article attempts to tackle those very questions by examining thecomposition and motivation of the Taliban-led insurgency and by offering a correspondingseries of recommendations aimed at fostering conditions in which a negotiated settlementis most likely to emerge and to succeed in bringing stability.Theauthorsarguethatdespitethedeteriorationofsecurity,thepossibilityforapoliticalresolution appears increasingly likely due to the decreased cohesion among the Taliban-ledinsurgency. Despite its projected strength, the insurgency has grown in size and impactprimarily through the amalgamation of several independent opposition groups and the re-cruitmentofindividualsseeking,mostnotably,pride,income,retributionforciviliandeaths,and a sense of purpose. As such, its support is broadening but remains shallow, and im-proved international and Afghan government interventions could lead to conditions that are“ripe” for a negotiated political settlement. Such interventions may involve a combinationof expanded but targeted military activity, increased economic development assistance,strengthened anti-corruption measures, and community self-defense programs. Such anapproach would have the effect of fostering a “mutually hurting stalemate” by reducinginsurgent recruitment while, at the same time, international military and reconstructionactivities reach contextually appropriate levels.
3
The need for and route to a political set-tlement became apparent as the authors contributed to a study of Afghanistan on behalf of the British government throughout 2008. This study,
Understanding Afghanistan: A Strate-gic Conflict Assessment 
, included interviews with Afghan security services, former Talibanmembers,highrankingAfghanofficials,diplomats,NATOmilitarycommanders,andmanyothers and was conducted by an international team of leading Afghanistan experts.
4
The Contemporary Context
At first glance, it would not necessarily appear that insurgents have cause to consideranything other than full control of Afghanistan. The Afghan state controls, according tobestestimates,athirdofthecountry.
5
Anevengreaterproportion,40percent,oftheAfghanNational Army (ANA) is absent without leave (AWOL) at any given point in time, and thenational police force is seen, in the words of am American military commander, “to exploitandextort”ratherthan“toserveandtoprotect.”
6
Thecourts,accordingtotheUnitedNations(UN), control roughly 20 percent of all judicial functions and are discredited by rampantcorruption.
7
Bribe seeking and the imposition of excessive formal and “informal” taxes,compounded by insecurity, resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the number of internationalbusinessesregisteredinAfghanistanwithin2007aloneaccordingtotheAfghanInvestmentSupport Agency (AISA).
8
The population, increasingly disenchanted with the government, has fallen back onbasepatternsofself-protection,andcommunitiesrallyaroundlocalstrongmenin“friendlyareas and insurgents elsewhere after having widely concluded the state’s collapse is morea question of “when” than “if.” Militias supposedly disarmed and demobilized by the UNcontinue to function and re-arm in the North, although many were absorbed wholesale intothe security services or transformed into ubiquitous private security companies under theirformer warlord bosses.Poppy cultivation, rising until this last year, has finally begun to recede as the value of wheat surpasses that of opium, although not before a half-decade of misguided eradication
 D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ U ni v e r si t y  of  Y o rk]  A t : 19 :11 5  F eb r u a r y 2010

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