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Slip-Sliding on a Yellow Brick Road: Stabilization Efforts in Afghanistan

Vanda Felbab-Brown

Abstract:

The ongoing transition process in Afghanistan will deliver three shocks in the coming few years: foreign forces will complete the handover of security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts, aid volumes and international spending in the country will decrease and, lastly, the political dispensation will be upended by presidential elections in which President Hamid Karzai is not supposed to run again. These challenges are mounting at a time when, due to inconsistent international approaches and a lack of appreciation for the Afghan context, Afghanistan is dealing with rising insecurity, dysfunctional governance, rampant corruption, and ethnic factionalization within the society and the domestic security forces. Based upon a review of the security sector, governance, social and economic conditions, regional relations and negotiation efforts with the insurgents, this article finds that fundamental questions about the efficacy of stabilization efforts in Afghanistan continue to lack clear answers. Regardless, significant room for improvement – both in policy and execution – appears to exist. It remains to be seen whether, as many Afghans fear, a civil war will engulf Afghanistan once again in the post-transition period or whether the international community will take those steps – re-energizing governance reform efforts, maintaining financial support and continuing to strengthen the Afghan army and police – which could help to bolster stability.

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