Over the last year and a half, the United States has invested significant political capital to create the conditions for an inclusive and justice-oriented political settlement in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of its military forces. That said, policy discussions are preoccupied with troop numbers and the steps needed to sustain and support the ongoing peace negotiations. Less attention has been given to the range of conditions, variables, and policy instruments to secure a stable, future Afghanistan that better supports its people as well as regional and international security.
To this end, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center hosts a series of private, high-level strategic dialogues to develop and advocate for a longer-term strategic outlook to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan while maintaining US and European counter-terrorism interests. This effort will look beyond the US elections, recognizing that while a political consensus is emerging to support a drawdown in US security commitments, no such consensus exists on the long-term relationship with Afghanistan.
Convened in partnership with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, this dialogue will serve two crucial functions:
- To develop a shared understanding of the key political, economic, and security factors critical to sustaining peace and security over the long-term and to preventing collapse in the short-to-medium term, whether or not a peace agreement is finalized.
- To consider the range of policy tools and levers available to the United States and Europe in order to develop a multilateral approach to Afghanistan that aligns interests, values, and resources across allies.
Overall, the dialogue will equip high-level officials with fresh analysis and forward-thinking policy ideas that can support a lasting strategic relationship between the United States, Europe, and Afghanistan around shared interests and values.
Understanding Afghan peace with expert advisor Kate Clark
To support the Strategic Dialogues, a prominent expert advisory group–bringing together diverse expertise and experience from the United States, Europe, and Afghanistan–provides ongoing analysis and expert input both for and in-between sessions.
Thu, Mar 25, 2021
The Atlantic Council, in partnership with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council and the American Council on Women, Peace and Security, hosted a conversation on the efforts made by Afghan women and their US partners to improve women’s leadership opportunities in Afghanistan, what these improvements mean for Afghan women, and the critical role women play in Afghanistan’s aspirations for long-term peace.
Event Recap by
Mon, Mar 22, 2021
The United States, as it pushes for a political settlement and withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, needs to leave a credible and professional Afghan intelligence partner behind with whom it must partner for counter-terrorism (CT) missions post-withdrawal.
Thu, Feb 25, 2021
Afghans’ views on the Doha peace process and the Biden administration’s review of the US-Taliban peace agreement
Over the last two years, many experts in Afghanistan and the international community have increasingly viewed the 2020 US-Taliban peace deal to be largely skewed to advantage the Taliban. The Biden administration’s step to review the agreement has thus been welcomed by many. In this blog, five Afghans who have lived under the increased threats and violence of the past year share their perspectives.
Thu, Feb 18, 2021
“With new leadership in the White House, there is an opportunity to strengthen the Afghan peace process and secure our shared interests in peace, security, and regional stability,” write Secretary Madeline Albright and Rector Federica Mogherini in CNN Opinion.
Thu, Feb 18, 2021
The prospect of a political settlement with the Taliban is testing Afghanistan’s nascent democracy more than ever before in the last eighteen years. Indeed, the country’s hard-won republican system, which the Taliban opposes in favor of a narrow Islamic Emirate, is currently facing an existential threat. It must be protected and strengthened at all costs.
Thu, Feb 4, 2021
A house divided: Afghanistan neighbors’ power play and regional countries’ hedging strategies for peace
Afghanistan is once again at a cross-roads facing an uncertain future. The United States, intent on ending its longest war, is hoping to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan with a timeline based on the US-Taliban agreement, now under review by the new Biden administration. Afghanistan’s neighbors, hedging their bets and securing their borders, are expecting that the ensuing chaos will help to ensure that their geopolitical interests are served via proxies or at least a friendly government in Kabul.
While the strategic dialogue sessions will be private and conducted under the Chatham House Rule, the findings of the conversations will be made publicly available as a series of issue briefs containing proposed recommendations for joint US and European engagement with Afghanistan, with options from minimal expenditure of resources to a more robust engagement and financial support. The final report will present a pragmatic, informed strategy for US-EU-AFG engagement, uniquely reflective of a more robust conversation between Afghanistan’s allies and the voices of the new generation of Afghans.
The strategic dialogue presents a unique contribution to the policy debate on Afghanistan, as it will include the narratives and experiences of stakeholders who are too often left out of debates on their future. These include ordinary Afghan citizens—especially women and other marginalized groups—civil society, and young leaders engaged in peace-building, security, and inclusion. The release of policy papers and recommendations will be staggered to accommodate the constantly-changing nature of Afghan affairs, ensure that the latest developments are incorporated into the discussions, and that the task force recommendations reflect realities on the ground.
Session schedule & thematic areas
While a more detailed session schedule will be posted, the strategic dialogues will cover a variety of areas such as, but not limited to, peace and security; multilateral cooperation by Afghanistan’s European and transatlantic partners such as the United States; victim-centered and economic approaches to justice; regional stakeholders, cooperation, and spoilers; illicit finance and Afghanistan’s international obligations; and others.
The South Asia Center serves as the Atlantic Council’s focal point for work on greater South Asia as well as its relations between these countries, the neighboring regions, Europe, and the United States.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund advances social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.
Tue, Nov 17, 2020
Art can be used as an outlet for self-expression, but also as a tool to advocate for human rights. Through art, we can share the untold stories of the civil society, win back the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, and send a clear message that activism in South Asia is vigorous and flourishing, and—in a region that continues to face many challenges—demonstrate that change is possible.
Photo Essay by
Fri, Nov 13, 2020
Withdrawing quickly would end any hope for a decent and responsible peace agreement in Afghanistan, and would also put to rest any prospect that Trump’s legacy might include taking credit for the Afghan peace process that he and his Afghanistan team took the lead in creating.
New Atlanticist by
Wed, Oct 28, 2020
The progress Afghan women have made in the years since the fall of the Taliban regime could be at risk, Ghani said, should the Taliban be given too much power as part of a peace settlement.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by