Afghanistan

Archive Profile

2014 Country Profile

2014 has been a vitally important year for Afghanistan’s political, economic, and security transitions. The year saw a highly contentious Presidential election and the first peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan’s modern history. At the same time, NATO continues to transition from a combat role to a “train, advise, and assist” role, as the Taliban and affiliated groups increasingly stage violent attacks across the country in a test of the government’s durability.

Since the timeline for the security transition was outlined at the 2010 Lisbon Summit, a series of international conferences have been convened to secure commitments to support Afghanistan’s security, political, and economic transitions through 2014 and beyond. In addition to pledging $4.1 billion USD annually for the Afghan National Security Forces, foreign donors have committed to providing  $16 billion USD over four years to strengthen the Afghan government and increase economic opportunity.

 The United Nations will play the primary role as coordinator of international assistance to Afghanistan, but the nature of its relationship with the newly elected Afghan government remains to be defined. While the amount of international attention paid to Afghanistan has declined, the requirements of Afghan National Security Forces and essential public services such as education and health continue to far outpace what the Afghan government is capable of providing, making international assistance as vital as ever.

Background

While the United Nations has played a humanitarian role in Afghanistan and in caring for Afghan refugees in neighboring countries since the 1980s, the fall of the Taliban in December 2001 initiated a dramatic expansion of international involvement.  Almost two months after the start of the US-led “Operation Enduring Freedom”, as the Taliban was struggling to maintain a grip on its last stronghold in Kandahar, Afghan opposition leaders and representatives from the international community gat Read More...

Key developments

Since its establishment in 2002, UNAMA has been renewed on an annual basis through a series of the UN Security Council resolutions, most recently with UNSCR 2145 (2014) in March 2014. UNAMA is currently headed by Nicholas “Fink” Haysom with two Deputies: DSRSG for Political Affairs,Tadamichi Yamamoto and DSRSG for Relief, Recovery, and Reconstruction, Mark Bowen. UNAMA’s core functions include: providing good offices, the coordination of international assistance, human rights monitoring an Read More...

Conclusion

Afghanistan is entering a landmark year in its history and it faces a daunting set of political, security, and economic challenges.  With Afghan security forces scheduled to take full security responsibility by the end of the year and ISAF increasingly playing an advisory role, international support to the ANSF, both economic and political, will only become more vital. As international attention drifts and economic belt-tightening in many countries continues, maintaining the levels of assistanc Read More...

Over the past year,considerable planning has taken place in anticipation of the end of the current UN-mandated and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. A series of international conferences have focused on managing not only the security dimensions of this transition process, but also its potential economic and institutional implications. The International Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn in December 2011 reaffirmed the timetable for the handover of security responsibilities from ISAF to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. In May 2012 the NATO summit in Chicago re-confirmed international security and economic commitments with a pledge for an annual aid package of $4.1 billion to pay for Afghanistan’s security forces after 2014.1At the July2012 conference in Tokyo, the international community pledged $16 billion in civilian aid for the economic development of Afghanistan over the next four years.

Amid a busy diplomatic calendar, important milestones in the security transition process were achieved in Afghanistan. The transition reached a national scope, as Afghan forces started to assume responsibility for a second and third tranche of provinces. According too fficial estimates, by the end of 2012 the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were responsible for overseeing the security of approximately 75 percent of the Afghan population and all thirty-four provincial capitals. Kabul has also signed strategic partnership agreements with numerous ISAF members, including the United States, that outline security cooperation beyond the current international combat mission.

These agreements, pledges, and security milestones have brought into sharper relief the scale of change under way for Afghanistan, as well as the uncertainty surrounding the wider transition process. The presidential election scheduled for 2014, risk of an economic recession, and capacity gaps in Afghan forces loom over emerging plans for a new era in Afghanistan. Despite these uncertain-ties, the Afghan government, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and other international supporters remain committed to pursuing the three main facets of the transition process—political, security, and economic—in advance of the 2014 deadline.

Background

After the fall of the Taliban regime in December 2001, a group of prominent Afghans and world leaders met under UN auspices in Bonn,Germany. The resulting plan,known as the Bonn Agreement,outlined a series of bench marks for the development of a new Afghan state and established a transitional authority led by Hamid Karzai, who was elected Afghanistan’s president in 2004 and reelected to the post in 2009. To provide security in Kabul and the surrounding areas, the Security Council authorized IS Read More...

Key developments

Political Transition In early 2012, following months of speculation, the Taliban announced a willingness to open a political office in Qatar to host preliminary talks with the United States. This announcement was regarded as an important step toward a political settlement, as the proposed office would give US and Afghan negotiators a platform to contact Taliban representatives. After months of discussions, however,the Taliban suspended all preliminary talks with the United States in March 2012, Read More...

Conclusion

Over the past year, a number of important milestones have been achieved in Afghanis-tan. However, the upcoming presidential election in 2014, the country’s dependence on international aid, the recent increase in“green-on-blue” attacks, and the volatile security situation cast uncertainty on the success of the transition. UNAMA remains a key supporter of the Afghan government. With the transition process recasting the relationship between the Afghan government and the international communit Read More...