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Warlords, local power holders who engage in smuggling of drugs and natural resources, and those who profit from contracts all complicate the prospect of resolving the conflict through a political settlement. Drug traffickers, who expend considerable sums for protection, are one of the largest financiers of the Taliban insurgency. President Ashraf Ghani has rightly said that criminality is an important pillar of the current conflict. In , thousands of fighters from the Alizai tribe in Helmand joined the Taliban after Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, the provincial governor, was sacked over suspected links to drug trafficking.

Profiteers of the war also include businessmen and warlords who have become multimillionaires through contracting with international forces and the Afghan government. They have contributed to an oligopolistic economy with political power and economic wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. The recent parliamentary election, dominated by wealthy candidates who have profited mainly from international contracting, highlighted the incredible political maneuvering ability of these oligarchs. Many warlords went so far as to use local militias to secure contracts in construction, logistics, and mining in areas where delivering results has been nearly impossible for others.

Some power holders, especially in the south , have actively played both sides, fabricating insecurity to create a market for their services — protection for logistics convoys and development projects.

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A settlement that could result in stability brings no benefit to these groups. To the contrary, they have ample incentive to sabotage efforts that could disrupt their local activities. A peace deal could mean diversion of government attention and resources away from the daily struggle for survival against the insurgency. Those fighting for nonpolitical and nonideological causes under the Taliban banner would break up as soon as they realize the diminishing utility of the label.

And those profiting off the armed conflict are bound to oppose a new order that could threaten their interests, which ensures that violence would continue under such a settlement. The conflict brings these groups more than economic rent. For them, standing against the Taliban is itself a form of political capital.

Don’t Sign a Death Warrant for Afghan Democracy - War on the Rocks

Despite the consensus among Afghans and their international partners that the only way out of the conflict is negotiation, a deal remains far from within reach. The nominal United States-Taliban agreement on troop withdrawal and denying international terrorists a safe haven might very well be the easiest step in ending the war, as the recent sluggish pace of the negotiations has revealed.

Still, to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the existing talks, the United States needs to negotiate with a sober understanding of the Taliban and their motives for fighting. The withdrawal of forces should take place according to a phased timetable, with the completion of each phase conditional upon the achievement of particular milestones in the intra-Afghan dialogue.

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While this could prolong the process and make reaching an agreement even harder, it would help keep the intra-Afghan dialogue from stagnating and protect Afghan-American achievements in democratic institution building, empowering women, protecting minorities, and promoting freedom of expression. If there is any chance of an agreement that will benefit Afghanistan, the Afghan government and the United States should look united and strong. In Afghanistan, the US has been relying on military forces to address problems that rather demand development assistance and diplomacy, says Columbia University economist Jeffrey D.

According to Sachs, the link between poverty and insurgency - the fact that vast unemployment and economic deprivation makes it easy for the Taliban to mobilize fighters - has been largely ignored. Neither has there been much serious discussion on how the war is adding to the Afghan people's poverty and misery. Nieman Watchdog. His speech reflected an increase of troops and resources rather than a new strategy. Obama failed to address central critiques of his policy, as he ignored the question of whether an increase in US troops might fuel insurgency rather than quash it, or the risk that the "surge" may further destabilize Pakistan.

American Prospect. The UN has announced it will relocate of its 1, staff in Afghanistan following a Taliban raid on a UN guest house that left 8 people dead. The "non-essential" employees will be moved to safer parts of Afghanistan and Dubai. The relocation comes at a time of growing doubt about the international strategy in Afghanistan and shows how much security has degraded in the country. While the UN says it remains committed to Afghanistan, in private UN officials admit that the guest house attack came close to meeting the organization's threshold for a general evacuation of the country.

Two audits reveal that the UN cannot account for tens of millions of dollars provided to the Afghan election commission in preparation of the presidential election.

Who's behind the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics?

According to former deputy representative Peter Galbraith, the flaw was not a management flaw but a political one: the UN should have demanded more accountability before agreeing to bankroll the elections. USAID, which funded a major part of the elections, is blaming the UN for failing to properly monitor the money - as if Washington didn't actually know what was happening on the ground.

Ann Jones, author of Kabul in Winter , debunks the myth that the American intervention in Afghanistan has improved the situation of Afghan women. Despite talk of equal rights for women, the Karzai government has proved just as eager as the Taliban to confine women to the domestic realm.

For women, public life as well as life at home remains dangerous. Not only are women still considered as men's property, they are now caught in the cross-fire, killed, wounded and forced to flee whenever troops advance in Afghanistan. The Nation. Kai Eide, UN Representative in Afghanistan, has denied allegations by his former deputy Peter Galbraith that he downplayed widespread fraud in the Afghan presidential election.

Eide argues that he decided to "side with the institutions" - namely Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission IEC - in the interest of state-building in Afghanistan. This even when the IEC has reported a number of votes cast 5 times superior to the UN estimate in regions where Karzai won by large majorities.

They claim to be fighting for independence against an occupation force perceived as an expansionist attempt from the US under the guise of the so-called "war on terror. Peter Galbraith speaks out on the reasons why he was fired from his post as deputy UN representative in Afghanistan. He denounces the way his superior has been downplaying the level of fraud during the Afghan presidential election and warns of the impact this could have on the UN's perceived impartiality.

According to Galbraith, not pursuing the issue of fraud and handing the victory to Karzai could have disastrous effects on Afghan unity, with many Afghans not trusting a government emerging from the tainted vote. Afghanistan has become a growing issue in the Chinese media, signaling China's heightened concern over the deepening crisis. The article departs from the American analysis of the issue, asserting that the crisis will be solved by focusing on Afghanistan rather than on the broader region - a clear opposition to the American "Af-Pak" approach. According to the author, a withdrawal would allow for an intra-Afghan peace process between warring factions, with the Security Council assuming the responsibility of guiding and monitoring the settlement.

Asia Times. Rethink Afghanistan October Rethink Afghanistan is a ground-breaking, full-length documentary focusing on the key issues surrounding the Afghan war. It questions the way the US administration has framed the war and calls for an immediate end to military operations in the region. This documentary invites viewers to "rethink" their preconceived ideas by answering important questions on the motives, cost and impact of US involvement in Afghanistan: Has the war made the US safer?

What do the Taliban want? Has the situation of Afghan women improved since the Taliban were overthrown? Can the war be "won?

Insights from the Afghan field

The two diplomats disagreed over how to respond to August's fraud-riddled presidential elections, with Galbraith taking an outspoken line over alleged vote-rigging - a position which angered Karzai and his ministers. Galbraith's removal illustrates the deepening divisions within the UN and the US administration on the strategy to adopt in Afghanistan. The General Assembly has agreed to increase UNAMA's budget by 91 percent, which includes an additional international staff and 3 provincial offices. International Herald Tribune.

NATO uses close air support attacks instead of ground troops in Afghanistan to save money and to spare personnel, but this results in three times more victims than US military actions in Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Iraq. To cover up these civilian deaths, NATO reports them as eliminated rebel militants.

Report of the Secretary General on the situation in Afghanistan September 23, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states that military operations by international forces in Afghanistan have increased the number of civilian victims. The report also states that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has worsened, including food insecurity.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan UNAMA reports that in the first five months of , civilian deaths in Afghanistan have increased by 62 percent when compared to the same period in In this report to the Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states that the security situation in Afghanistan has drastically deteriorated in To this end, Ban proposes new training programs for police to improve the immediate security situation in the country.

France is pushing for a Resolution in the Security Council to ban the trafficking to Afghanistan of acetic anhydride, a key component in the production of heroin. A UN study states that Afghanistan produced over 8, tons of heroin in , making the country almost the worlds biggest suppliers of the drug. The Resolution will call upon Afghanistan to cooperate with the International Narcotics Control Board, urges bordering counties to strengthen border controls, and asks the Secretary General to monitor the implementation of the Resolution by UN member states. Security Council Report.

This is in our DNA. Those students who are doing their service to Afghanistan are our cultural Ambassadors and have a bit of India in each of them. One of the biggest dams in Afghanistan, is named India — Afghanistan friendship dam.

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Perhaps, it is our way of thanking Afghanistan for gifting the humanity with sufi tradition. The dam is built in Chist district in Herat. Since , India has played an active role in the re-construction and development of Afghanistan based on the understanding that social and economic development is the key to Afghanistan becoming a source of regional stability.

The principal focus of India's development partnership is to build capacity and institutions in Afghanistan with a belief that political and security stability will remain fragile and non-durable unless Afghanistan attains basic level of socio-economic development. All our projects are undertaken in partnership with the Afghan government and are spread across each and every of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan in diverse fields of development including education, healthcare, infrastructure, administrative capacity, flood control, irrigation, agriculture, sports, etc.

Construction of km road from Zaranj to Delaram in Nimroz province in south west Afghanistan,. These projects are a reflection of India's enduring commitment towards Afghanistan's reconstruction.

The HICDPs cover the vast areas of social interest such as education, public health, agriculture, irrigation, local governance, women empowerment, drinking water, urban development, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, television transmission, cultural arena, sports infrastructure, and administrative infrastructure. So far, close to social infrastructure projects have been completed and projects are under various stages of progress covering all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Under our New Development Partnership, several important projects focused on developmental needs and priorities of Afghanistan have been identified for implementation including Shahtoot Dam and drinking water project for Kabul city, low-cost housing for returning Afghan refugees in Nangarhar province, among many others.

Our bond of friendship is very special. It derives its strength from our people to people contacts. India has been profoundly committed towards building capacity and developing human resources in Afghanistan. Every year, India offers over 3, scholarships and training slots. This is in addition to thousands of Afghan government and defence personal which undergo training in India. Probably that is the reason, India is a natural choice for Afghans to pursue higher studies and get medical treatment. In the last decade alone, over 60, Afghan students have completed their higher studies in India, including in medicines and are contributing to Afghanistan's nation building.

Afghanistan’s Strongman Democracy

They define the future of India — Afghanistan relationship. India is committed to support Afghanistan in its journey to emerge as a united, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable, prosperous and inclusive nation. Connectivity forms the basis of prosperity.