Landlocked countries like Afghanistan are at a great disadvantage over their littoral neighbors with access to sea for regional and global trade. Naturally, the peace, security, and prosperity of landlocked countries depend on those of their surrounding neighbors. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the Afghan government has repeatedly communicated this fact to Afghanistan’s six neighbors, reaffirming its commitment to noninterference in the affairs of others, as well as allowing no country to use Afghanistan’s soil against its neighbors.
Syria, North Korea, and Yemen have largely dominated headlines. But Afghanistan also remains in the global conscience. If anything, the much-needed international focus on the campaign against the Taliban has outlined how difficult the fight has become, despite our steady military gains. Frustrated with what many are mistakenly calling a quagmire, international commentators either advocate for a quick-fix peace deal to withdraw from Afghanistan or engaging in a more intense military campaign. The latter is an understandable response, but even so, it is far from a complete remedy.
The land Afghans call home is diversely populated, geographically landlocked, politically and economically undeveloped, and unfortunately located in a predatory neighborhood where at least one of its neighbors sees its raison d’être as being partly dependent on instability in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, other state and nonstate actors — such as extremists, terrorists, and drug traffickers — have exploited Afghanistan’s vulnerabilities to their advantage, and they will continue to do so alone or together in common self interest. Continue reading
In “The U.S. Needs to Talk to the Taliban” a New York Times op-ed run on March 19, Borhan Osman mistakenly reduces the popularly elected National Unity Government (NUG) of Afghanistan to one of the internal “factions.” To the contrary, the NUG enjoys a broad popular mandate and support. Like any democracy, Afghanistan is hardly devoid of political differences, which underpin the very essence of democracy: recall tensions in the U.S. two-party system or in the multiparty coalition governments of Europe.Continue reading