USIP Releases Report on Kabul’s Diplomatic Policy

The US Institute for Peace released a report on the Afghan caretaker government’s diplomatic policy, in which it highlighted the factors on how to “empower diplomacy with the Taliban”.

The report said that there are a range of items the international community and Afghan actors have discussed with the Taliban, some of which are productive to move on and some of which are not.

According to the report, providing targeted assistance to the Ministry of Education, moving the diplomatic delegations back to Kabul, exploring various convening formats for dialogue with the Taliban, promoting intra-Afghan engagement on unified principles, are the sections that explore the issues with the greatest potential to create a facilitative environment to resuscitate dialogue with the Taliban, while delivering humanitarian impact for the Afghan population struggling to survive in a collapsed, emaciated economy.

“Social service delivery has been hit hard by the suspension of on-budget donor aid to Afghanistan and international assistance becoming divorced from the purview of the national government. It is very difficult to move from short-term humanitarian relief to long-term development and reconstruction, where sustainable peace dividends are located, with next to no coordination on programming and accountability between the de facto authorities and aid agencies,” the report reads. “The future of the most vulnerable sector, education, is in the greatest jeopardy out of fear from international donors of enabling the government’s restrictions on women and girls.”

Conflict management approaches to stabilization and peacemaking in Afghanistan should draw on the relatively high degree of international consensus on what is expected of the de facto authorities to return to the pathway for formal international legitimacy, USIP suggested, saying that some of the lessons learned from the failure of the intra-Afghan negotiations relate to flawed process design of the talks in Doha and weak multilateral backing for them.

“Both of these aspects should be strengthened through continuous experimentation with different convening formats in ongoing dialogue with the Taliban,” the report reads.

The report said that after the disastrous intra-Afghan negotiations, the space for the intra-Afghan dialogue needed for genuine national reconciliation is very narrow.

“Not even the most moderate among the Taliban are willing to entertain the idea of a formal peace dialogue with members of the former Islamic Republic; they will not tolerate the word “negotiations” or statements to the effect that the conflict is ongoing,” it said.

The report further said senior “Taliban representatives” have expressed positive views on the need for consultation with others, but they should proactively turn their intentions into action since over the last 16 months they have made very few gestures on this front.

“No non-Taliban political leader or former technocrat was invited to the grand meeting of Ulema held in July, for example,” it reads.

The USIP also wrote about the Afghanistan’s Central Bank assets in foreign reserves, saying that the “Taliban’s diplomatic victories since August 2021, which largely comprise hostage releases and humanitarian dialogue over access and safe passage, have not been commensurate to the scale of diplomatic failures, in particular regarding frozen Afghan sovereign assets.”

According to USIP’s report, the withheld Central Bank assets are viewed as a continuation of warfare by the the Taliban.

“Dialogue has not resolved this issue. After a year of drawn-out negotiations between the United States and the Taliban for the release of $7 billion in frozen DAB assets held in the United States, the outcome was decided independently by the Biden administration,” the report reads.  

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