South Asia

  • Why Afghanistan’s Parliamentary Election Matters

    Afghans will vote in parliamentary elections on October 20 amid the familiar threat of violence.

    The fragile security situation in Afghanistan was underscored on October 18 when Gen. Austin Miller, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, escaped unharmed in an attack by a Taliban gunman in Kandahar. Lt. Gen. Abdul Raziq, Kandahar’s police commander, and Abdul Momin, the provincial intelligence chief, were killed in the attack. The Afghan government has postponed the vote in Kandahar province by a week.

    In the rest of Afghanistan, voters will head to the polls on October 20 to elect candidates to the lower house of parliament. The election is three years overdue. Around 2,500 candidates are standing for 250 seats.

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  • Deciphering the Afghan Riddle

    US troops have now been present in Afghanistan for the past seventeen years. Initially, the US-led offensive that came in response to al Qaeda’s attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, was mainly an air campaign, supported by indigenous anti-Taliban forces on the ground. This approach proved highly effective. Al Qaeda and Taliban command-and-control centers across Afghanistan were dismantled within days. Most of their commanders were forced to flee to safe havens in Pakistan.

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  • Manning in Foreign Policy: The United States Needs an Afghanistan Exit Strategy


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  • An Inflection Point in the Maldives?

    Over the past five years, the Maldives steadily transitioned from democratic to authoritarian rule under President Abdulla Yameen. Despite all odds, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) achieved a stunning electoral victory on September 23 that provides the Indian Ocean nation with an opportunity to reverse the erosion of rights and freedoms that occurred during Yameen’s tenure. The new government must now secure the loyalty of its institutions, including political factions within the MDP and the military, to ensure a peaceful and stable transition of power from Yameen to President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his new ruling coalition in November.  

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  • Ahmad in WSJ: The Mafia That Threatens Afghanistan


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  • Ahmad in Washington Post: I Will Still Support the US Presence in Afghanistan. But Now it's Time to Fight for Peace in my Country.


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  • The War For Peace in Afghanistan

    Challenge posed by ISIS affiliate must be addressed

    The message from Washington these days appears to be that severing the link between the Taliban and Pakistan is the silver bullet for peace in Afghanistan. It is, however, simplistic to portray the Taliban as the only insurgent group in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the only relevant outside actor. While the Taliban might be the insurgent group with the most sympathizers and members, there are other groups active in Afghanistan that may not be influenced by Pakistan. An enduring peace in Afghanistan is only possible if it involves a deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and addresses the challenge posed by these other insurgent groups.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to appoint Zalmay Khalilzad as his Afghan envoy, tasked with mediating between the Taliban and Kabul, might help bring Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government and at least some factions of the Taliban together. Khalilzad has walked a fine line between Afghanistan’s many ethnic groups in the past. He helped effectively form the country’s first post-Taliban government and organized the country’s first post-Taliban elections.

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  • Can Peace Be Won in Afghanistan?

    At a time when the Taliban are gaining ground in Afghanistan, Afghan government losses are mounting, and regional partners’ views on the conflict are shifting, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has not given in to pessimism. On a September 7 visit to Kabul, Mattis expressed optimism about the existence of “a framework” and “open lines of communications” between US diplomats and Qatar-based Taliban representatives that he believes might lead to an intra-Afghan reconciliation process that would end nearly two decades of war. He also reassured Kabul’s leadership that the United States will stand by the Afghans until there is lasting peace and stability.

    What remains uncertain at this point, however, are the answers to two overarching questions: How will key regional stakeholders—Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China, and India—manage shifting interests and threat perceptions at a time when the United States is pushing for a peace deal, and is there a contingency plan if talks fail?

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: The Day NATO Stood with the United States

    In the early hours of September 12, 2001, as the world was coming to grips with the enormity of the events of the day before, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was busy working the phones. She discussed with the United States’ NATO allies the possibility of doing something never done before in the history of the Alliance: the invocation of Article 5 on collective defense.

    Daniel Fried was working at the National Security Council and in Rice’s office at the time. He recalls Rice’s conversation with her French counterpart. “We need this,” she said.

    By the evening of September 12, less than twenty-four hours after al Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed commercial airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, the allies invoked Article 5 in an act of solidarity with the United States. Then NATO Secretary General George Robertson informed United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the Alliance's decision.

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  • US General Miller Takes Over NATO Mission in Afghanistan

    General Austin Scott Miller assumed command of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission from General John ''Mick'' Nicholson at a ceremony at mission headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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