Search Penny Hill Press

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The United States and its partner countries are reducing military involvement in Afghanistan in preparation to end the current international security mission by the end of 2014. As agreed by President Obama and Afghan President Karzai, and announced January 11, 2013, Afghan forces will assume the security lead nationwide in the spring of 2013 and U.S. forces will move to a support role. The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which peaked at about 100,000 in June 2011, has been reduced to a “pre-surge” level of 66,000 as of September 20, 2012. President Obama announced that 34,000 of the contingent will leave by February 2014. The size of the U.S. force that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 is under discussion between the United States, its allies, and the Afghan government, and reportedly center on about 8,000-12,000 U.S. forces, plus about 4,000 partner forces. U.S. troops that remain after 2014 would do so under a U.S.- Afghanistan security agreement that is under negotiation pursuant to a May 1, 2012, U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement. The forces would reportedly engage in counter-terrorism missions as well as train the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). Still, fearing instability after 2014, some key ethnic and political faction leaders are preparing to revive their militia forces should the international drawdown lead to a major Taliban push to retake power.

The Administration remains concerned that Afghan stability after 2014 is at risk from weak and corrupt Afghan governance and insurgent safe haven in Pakistan. Among other efforts to promote effective and transparent Afghan governance, U.S. officials are pushing for substantial election reform to ensure that the next presidential election, scheduled for April 2014, will not experience the fraud of the elections in 2009 and 2010. An unexpected potential benefit to stability could come from a negotiated settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Negotiations have proceeded sporadically since early 2010, but informal discussions have continued and, by the end of 2012, began to evolve into exchanges of specific proposals. Afghanistan’s minorities and women’s groups fear that a settlement might produce compromises with the Taliban that erode human rights and ethnic power-sharing.

The United States and other donors are in the process of completing various infrastructure projects—particularly those for water, power, and roads. To prevent a severe economic downturn as international donors scale back their involvement, U.S. officials also hope to draw on Afghanistan’s vast mineral and agricultural resource, as well as its small but unexplored and potentially significant hydrocarbon resources. U.S. officials also seek greater Afghanistan integration into regional trade and investment patterns. Persuading Afghanistan’s neighbors to support Afghanistan’s stability instead of their own particular interests has been a focus of U.S. policy since 2009, but with mixed success.

Even if these economic efforts succeed, Afghanistan will likely remain dependent on foreign aid indefinitely. Through the end of FY2012, the United States has provided nearly $83 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, of which about $51 billion has been to equip and train Afghan forces. During FY2001-FY2012, the Afghan intervention has cost about $557 billion, including all costs. About $9.7 billion in economic aid and $82 billion in additional U.S. military costs are requested for FY2013. As announced in the context of the July 8, 2012, Tokyo donors’ conference, Administration economic aid requests for Afghanistan are likely to continue at current levels through at least FY2017. See CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman.

Date of Report: March 8, 2013
Number of Pages: 92
Order Number: RL30588
Price: $29.95

To Order:

RL30588.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART


Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.