Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category

Struggling for Representation in the Peace Process

In Afghanistan, Women on September 5, 2012 at 9:57 am

Mariam Safi

Two years after President Hamid Karzai’s consultative Peace Jirga and creation of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, the peace process continues to receive criticism for the ambiguity that surrounds the role of women. Civil society organizations and women’s rights advocates argue that a peace settlement without safeguards to promote and entrench women’s voices could threaten women’s constitutional rights.

Persistent discrimination has prohibited women from garnering a greater role in the design and implementation of the peace process. The Programme’s gender policy, introduced in September 2011, seeks to ensure women’s participation in decision-making at the strategic/political level through the High Peace Council (reconciliation) and at the operational level through gender-mainstreaming in local peace processes (reintegration). However, this policy has been largely ineffective. Read the rest of this entry »

Afghan Women at the Table

In Afghanistan, Human Rights, Peace, Women on September 5, 2012 at 9:56 am

Photo: DVIDSHUB (Flickr)

David Cortright and Kristen Wall

The U.S. is set to withdraw the bulk of its forces from Afghanistan by 2014. This transition period is fraught with risk for Afghan women, many of whom have benefited during 10 years of improved access to education, health care, and political participation.

International aid programs have funded schools, trained health care workers, and supported development projects. There are now more than 3 million girls in school and 50,000 female teachers. Infant and maternal mortality rates have dropped significantly. Read the rest of this entry »

Afghan Women in the Transition Process

In Afghanistan, Human Rights, Peace, Women on September 5, 2012 at 9:55 am

The Afghan Women’s Network

The Afghan Women’s Network is a non-partisan network of women and women’s groups working to empower Afghan women and ensure their equal participation in Afghan society. This post summarizes the Network’s presentation at the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012.

We recently consulted with more than 300 women leaders throughout Afghanistan to assess the transition of security from U.S.-led to Afghan-led forces and to develop ideas for protecting the rights of women during the transition process.

The Network found that women do not feel they have participated meaningfully in the transition process. They are unsure of how they will fare in the transition and frustrated by the lack of clarity from the Afghan government and international community about what will happen after 2014. Women across the country are calling for greater transparency and accountability in the Afghan government and international community. Read the rest of this entry »

Reconciliation and Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan on November 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

Sarah Smiles Persinger

As public support for the Afghan war wanes, the concept of reconciliation with the Taliban and insurgent groups has gained currency and is now the declared policy of the United States and the Afghan government.

Reconciliation poses a quandary for Western policymakers, however, given the Taliban’s abusive stance toward women. Under Taliban rule, Afghan women and girls were deprived of education and the right to work and were forbidden to leave their homes without a male guardian.


Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the empowerment of Afghan women has in many ways been a quasi-policy goal of the military intervention. Western governments have promoted the empowerment of Afghan women as critical to the country’s economic and political progress.

The prospect of a peace deal has raised fears that the precarious progress achieved by women since 2001 will be undone if insurgent leaders gain political influence. It has also confounded anti-war advocates in the West, with some commentators suggesting a prolonged military intervention is necessary to safeguard women’s rights.

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Women Are Essential to Peacebuilding

In Afghanistan on November 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

Dr. Marzia Mohammadi, Afghani Parliamentary candidate. Photo by Kate Brooks.

Jennifer Freeman and Dee Aker

October 2010 marked the 10th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for women to be engaged in all phases of securing, building, and maintaining peace. Commemorative events have focused on the challenge of implementing resolutions that call for the protection of women and the transformative inclusion of women in conflict prevention, resolution, and recovery.


Some successes have been achieved, including prioritizing women’s needs and concerns in the allocation of resources for peacebuilding and involving women in security sectors such as police and peacekeeping. Security and sustainable peace can’t be achieved in complex conflicts such as Afghanistan without greater participation of women. Yet these approaches remain controversial in mainstream security circles.

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Reversing a Deadly Dynamic in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan on November 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

David Cortright

As the scale of the military intervention has increased in Afghanistan, so has the armed violence and influence of the Taliban. Reversing this deadly dynamic will require an approach that pursues demilitarization through the gradual disengagement of U.S. and NATO military forces.

The Obama administration is committed to a gradual process of withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. While needed, this military exit must be done responsibly. In particular, it must not mean the abandonment of Afghan women. If the United States and its allies depart precipitously, women in Afghanistan could be subjected to grotesque cruelties as they were during the Taliban era, including public stoning, marauding gangs of Taliban thugs, and prohibitions against schooling and employment.


Gradual military demobilization must be linked to a broader set of security and political agreements, including preventing the use of Afghan territory for terrorist operations, supporting political reconciliation and power-sharing within the Afghan government, and continuing financial support for political, economic, and social policies that enhance the status and well-being of women. Military disengagement should be combined with a greatly increased commitment to development, diplomacy, and protection of human rights.

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Combat Drones: Losing the Fight Against Terrorism

In Afghanistan, Counterterrorism, War on October 1, 2009 at 9:03 am

Mary Ellen O’Connell

The United States is using combat drones — remotely piloted missile aircraft — to target terrorist leaders in the volatile border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This continues despite the high number of civilians killed. Credible estimates find that, between 2006 and early 2009, about 700 civilians were killed in the course of targeting 14 individuals — a ratio of 50 people killed to each one targeted.1

Counterterrorism expert David Kilcullen wrote in The New York Times that killing leaders of terrorist groups has only a short-term impact on repressing terrorist violence, while every civilian killed in such actions “represents an alienated family, a new desire for revenge, and more recruits for a militant movement …” 2

In June 2009, Gen. Stanley McChrystal restricted the use of airstrikes in Afghanistan because of the high number of civilian deaths. He ordered that “[t]he restrictions … be especially tight in attacking houses and compounds where insurgents are believed to have taken cover.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Is Afghanistan a ‘Good War’?

In Afghanistan, Counterterrorism, War on October 1, 2009 at 9:02 am

Photo courtesy U.S. Army

U.S. Army soldiers on an early-morning patrol mission near Forward Operating Base Baylough, Zabul, Afghanistan, in March 2009. Photo credit: U.S. Army (Flickr).

David Cortright

This article includes video content. (4:00)

The goal of defeating Al Qaeda and preventing global terrorist strikes is a just cause. But current U.S. war policies in Afghanistan will not achieve that goal. In fact, they may make matters worse. U.S. policy in the region is based on the assumption that war is a necessary and appropriate means of defeating Al Qaeda-based terrorism. The United States also assumes that the Taliban is equivalent to Al Qaeda, and therefore it is a legitimate target for a multi-year counterinsurgency war. These assumptions are questionable — strategically and ethically.

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A Necessary War Taken to Unnecessary Extremes

In Afghanistan, Counterterrorism, War on October 1, 2009 at 9:01 am

Michael Desch

The United States’ military response to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan following 9/11 was morally justified. It was an act of self-defense against a dangerous Taliban regime in cahoots with the perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But this necessary war to topple the Taliban and destroy Al Qaeda has been taken to unnecessary extremes, raising doubts about the wisdom of the Obama Administration’s escalation of the war there now.

The United States should not have been surprised by the Al Qaeda attacks; Osama bin Laden and his colleagues made little secret of the grievances they harbored against the United States. Their 1998 fatwa listed their casus belli as the presence of large numbers of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia — the home of two of Islam’s holy sites, Mecca and Medina — and the long record of nearly unquestioning U.S. support for the State of Israel, which occupies Islam’s third holiest site, the Harem al-Sharif in Jerusalem.
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