-A lecture by Michael Semple
Featuring panelists Nader Nadery, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; Thomas Ruttig, The Afghanistan Analysts Network; John Dempsey, United States Institute of Peace-
This event is sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace, the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, and Fulbright Alumni
About the book: The Afghan government and the international community have embraced the idea of reconciliation with insurgents as an important part of the overall strategy to secure and stabilize the country. Alongside increased military operations and larger numbers of ANSF and international troops are calls to “talk with the Taliban” and bring “reconcilable elements” to the government’s side. Without a strong and committed focus on the political and civil dimensions of the counter-insurgency efforts, any military victories will not be sustainable. But what exactly is meant by the term “reconciliation”? How and by whom should reconciliation efforts be crafted? Who are such efforts targeting? And what are the necessary ingredients for successful reconciliation initiatives?
In this timely and thorough volume, Michael Semple analyzes the rationale and effectiveness of post-2001 attempts at reconciliation in Afghanistan. He explains the poor performance of these attempts and argues that rethinking is necessary if reconciliation is to help revive prospects for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Semple’s findings reveal that the key parties to the insurgency are Afghan political actors driven by objectives related to their roles and status inside Afghanistan. Further, the majority of senior Taliban figures who have reconciled have done so through a process best described as political sponsorship, in which they have secured acceptance into the present system through political or tribal links. Although official reconciliation programs have failed and formal institutions are widely considered to be inaccessible, corrupt, and unreliable, reconciliation is indeed possible in Afghanistan, particularly through informal networks and traditional Afghan reconciliation practices. Semple contends that progress lies in an incremental peace, one in which identifiable networks hitherto estranged from the current political reality and engaged in insurgent violence reach an accommodation with the government that addresses their network-specific grievances and interests. He concludes with specific and numerous recommendations for the Government of Afghanistan as well as for the international community.
About the author: Michael Semple began working in Afghanistan in the mid-1980 and is one of the most respected and experienced foreignanalysts on the country’s politics today. He most recently served in the country as the European Union’s Deputy Special Representative to Afghanistan (2004-2007).