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Abstract: This primer on subnational government in Afghanistan is meant to inform efforts to strengthen local government in recently cleared areas. Among the problems afflicting the Afghan state are the lack of effective service provision and representation, which together should constitute the base of the state's legitimacy. This paper identifies the various entities of local government and identifies opportunities for improvement. It is based on a review of the available academic and nongovernmental studies of subnational government in Afghanistan and interviews with civilian experts, including consultants attached to U.S. and allied government agencies. Opportunities to make the system more participatory and representative should be sought at lower levels to compensate for weak central institutions, and the court system must be strengthened where possible. Good intelligence about local politics must precede engagement. Governance metrics should gauge subjective perceptions of the legitimacy of the Afghan state, rather than objective outputs.
Abstract: There are numerous sources of local conflict in Afghanistan today, but the majority cluster around a few issues: disputes over land and water rights; family disputes, particularly inheritance; and disputes over control of local positions of authority.
Lack of capacity or resources in the formal justice systems has been blamed for the lack of effective dispute resolution. But the fact that disputes were resolved more regularly in Afghanistan before the war years, when the formal justice system had even fewer resources, indicates that other causes are involved.
Lack of political and personal security of dispute-resolution practitioners and the increased
power of local commanders, whose authority is not community-based, have undermined the traditional dispute-resolution system. At the same time, corruption and inefficiency have delegitimized the formal justice system in the eyes of many disputants.
Afghans and foreign donors alike note that Afghanistan has both state (court-based) and • nonstate (based upon a combination of customary and religious law) justice sectors, and it is often assumed that these systems solely compete with each other for dispute-resolution authority.
USIP research shows that, contrary to assumptions, successfully resolved disputes rely on • a combination of formal and informal actors. Indeed, it is common for disputes to move between formal and informal venues and to be considered by a series of local elders and, more rarely, government officials.
Abstract: Conflict continues to pose one of the biggest
threats to the survival, development and well being
of a significant number of children across the world.
In the past decade, 2 million children have died
directly as a result of conflict and 6 million have
been permanently disabled or seriously injured.
Explosive weapons were responsible for the death
and injury of thousands of children in a number of
conflicts in 2009, including Operation Cast Lead
in Gaza, the final stage of the war in northern
Sri Lanka, and the intensification of conflicts in
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. In these
latter four countries, as well as in the occupied
Palestinian territory and Iraq, the use of explosive
weapons continued through 2010. Children were
often the victims in these conflicts, with too little
attention paid to minimising the risk to them or to
ensuring that their fundamental human rights, such
as the right to life,were not violated.
As well as governments’ use of explosive weapons
in populated areas, recent decades have seen
a rising number of non state actors using more
sophisticated explosive weapons. For instance,
information leaked from Afghanistan indicates that
the Taliban has used shoulder launched surface to
air missiles, which are more technologically
advanced than the rocket propelled grenades they
frequently use. Improvised explosive devices
have also become more sophisticated and more
deadly over the past two decades.
Section 1 of this report describes the impact
of explosive weapons on children and their
communities. Section 2 outlines the international
human rights and legal framework that could
and should be implemented to protect children.
In Section 3, Save the Children proposes three
steps towards minimising the impact of explosive
weapons on children and makes recommendations
to the international community, governments and
Abstract: IKV Pax Christi strives to enhance the protection of civilians in conflict. In the report, IKV Pax Christi expresses her concern about the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
From relatively simple improvised explosive devices to advanced aircraft-delivered bombs and missiles, all explosive weapons share certain characteristics that make their use in populated areas especially dangerous for civilian populations. By projecting a blast wave and shrapnel, explosive weapons indiscriminately damage the area around the point of detonation, making no distinction between soldiers or civilians. Furthermore, explosive weapons can also destroy critical infrastructure and frequently pose a long-term risk to populations in the form of unexploded ordnance. For these and other reasons, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas urgently needs to be addressed.
The report provides an overview of recent debates on the use of these weapons, existing agreements in International Humanitarian Law, and the consequences of the use of these weapons for civilians when used in populated areas.
Abstract: After the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, Cambodia set about the difficult process of state-building. Despite violent clashes in 1997-98, the Cambodian government has been largely successful in establishing full control of military forces, into which former Khmer Rouge soldiers have been reintegrated. The Cambodian government, with support of donors, successfully improved infrastructure throughout the country, built up capacity in key state institutions, and provided basic public services to the people. Behind these achievements was assistance from a grassroots network built by the Cambodian People‟s Party in the 1980s. This network is characterized by patronage connections between the government and village chiefs, and between the latter and villagers. Consequently, the legitimacy of the state has been strengthened. In contrast, social empowerment has been delayed, and people's political rights and freedoms have been restricted by the state. As shown by the recent increase of corruption charges and land tenure disputes, the imbalance between the powerful state and a stunted civil society is a potential factor of instability.
Abstract: This paper examines three possible impacts of the death of Osama bin Laden on the war on terror from the perspective of countries surrounding Afghanistan. A first scenario sees America abandoning the global war on terror on the territory of Afghanistan and moving its attention to new fronts, such as containing the uprisings in the Middle East or countering the economic rise of China, which will not suit the countries surrounding Afghanistan where terrorism remains a problem.
The second trajectory may see a deeper entrenchment of the American presence in the region through the enactment of a strategic agreement between America and Afghanistan.
The third possible implication of the Bin Laden killing is the possibility of a political settlement through reconciliation with the Taliban and their integration into the Afghan political process.
The paper suggests that any alternative to regional diplomacy for regional reconciliation would be the fragmentation and partition of Afghanistan along ethnic fault lines, which is undesirable for the region and for Afghanistan itself. Security guarantees need to come from within the region through a resumption of political dialogue and the intensification of economic relations among the region’s countries, a process that can be facilitated by regional and international organisations.
Abstract: After a decade of major security, development and humanitarian assistance, the international community has failed to achieve a politically stable and economically viable Afghanistan. Despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security. As the insurgency spreads to areas regarded as relatively safe till now, and policymakers in Washington and other Western capitals seek a way out of an unpopular war, the international community still lacks a coherent policy to strengthen the state ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign forces by December 2014. The impact of international assistance will remain limited unless donors, particularly the largest, the U.S., stop subordinating programming to counter-insurgency objectives, devise better mechanisms to monitor implementation, adequately address corruption and wastage of aid funds, and ensure that recipient communities identify needs and shape assistance policies.
As early as 2002, the U.S. established Provincial Reconstruction Teams that gave the military a lead role in reconstruction assistance in insecure areas and somewhat expanded civilian presence but without setting any standards for where and when they should shift from military to civilian lead and when they should phase out entirely. The 2009 U.S. troop surge, aimed at urgently countering an expanding insurgency, was accompanied by a similar increase in U.S. civilian personnel – attempting to deliver quick results in the same areas as the military surge, but without rigorous monitoring and accountability. In their haste to demonstrate progress, donors have pegged much aid to short-term military objectives and timeframes. As the drawdown begins, donor funding and civilian personnel presence, mirroring the military’s withdrawal schedule, may rapidly decline, undermining oversight and the sustainability of whatever reconstruction and development achievements there have been.
Abstract: Over the last decade, the global trade in illicit Afghan opiates
has been one of the world’s greatest transnational drug
and crime threats – with severe consequences for health,
governance and security at national, regional and international
In Afghanistan and elsewhere, transnational organized
crime groups were the main beneficiaries of the US$68 billion
trade in 2009, which they supplemented with other
forms of crime such as arms trafficking and human smuggling.
In 2009, the Afghan Taliban was estimated to have
earned around $150 million from the opiate trade, Afghan
drug traffickers $2.2 billion, and Afghan farmers $440 million.
While the findings suggest that most insurgent elements
content themselves with taxing the trade rather than
attempting to become active participants, it now appears
that some insurgents involve themselves directly in the
heroin supply chain, including in the procurement of acetic
anhydride. Anti-government elements based in Afghanistan
and Pakistan may gain access to only a fraction of the value
of Afghan opiate exports, but this is nonetheless enough to
support logistics, operations and recruitment.
Areas under insurgent influence, such as the border between
Iraq and Turkey and the border between Pakistan and
Afghanistan, also provide a key competitive advantage for
organized crime groups as those areas lie beyond the reach
of law enforcement. If global organized crime groups managing
the opiate trade pocketed only 10 per cent of the
profit, they would have earned at least $7 billion in 2009.
All these illicit profits are laundered in one way or another,
a process that undermines the vulnerable economies of
areas such as the Balkans and Central Asia.
Traffickers tend to shift routes and change their modus
operandi as law enforcement pressure increases. Traditional
methods of land border control may not be sufficient to
stem the flow of opiates into destination markets.
Abstract: - A successful, legitimate and sustainable approach to peace in Afghanistan requires the inclusion of Afghan civil society and their interests. For the most part, Afghan peace negotiations exclude representatives of civil society and center on a narrow agenda featuring concerns of armed groups. Attempts at a quick fix settlement could compromise the foundations of durable peace, resulting in more costs to the international community, and more death and destruction on the ground.
- Half of all peace agreements fail. One of the reasons why they fail is that too few people support them. Building a national consensus requires participation by and support from civil society.
- Afghanistan requires a peace process that is both wide and deep, with structured mechanisms for participatory deliberation and decision-making involving diverse stakeholders from the top, middle and community levels of society.
- Based on examination of successful peace processes, there are four broad models of public participation in peace processes relevant for Afghanistan. These include direct participation in local peace processes, a national civil society assembly, representation at the central negotiation table and a public referendum to vote on a final agreement.
- The international community, the Afghan government and Afghan civil society can each take steps to ensure a comprehensive, successful and sustainable peace process.
In 2004, Afghanistan pioneered a balanced scorecard performance system to manage the delivery of primary health care services. This study examines the trends of 29 key performance indicators over a 5-year period between 2004 and 2008.
Methods and Findings
Independent evaluations of performance in six domains were conducted annually through 5,500 patient observations and exit interviews and 1,500 provider interviews in >600 facilities selected by stratified random sampling in each province. Generalized estimating equation models were used to assess trends in BSC parameters. There was a progressive improvement in the national median scores scaled from 0–100 between 2004 and 2008 in all six domains: patient and community satisfaction of services 65.3–84.5, p<0.0001 ; provider satisfaction 65.4–79.2, p<0.01 ; capacity for service provision 47.4–76.4, p<0.0001; quality of services 40.5–67.4, p<0.0001; and overall vision for pro-poor and pro-female health services 52.0–52.6. The financial domain also showed improvement until 2007 84.4–95.7, p<0.01, after which user fees were eliminated. By 2008, all provinces achieved the upper benchmark of national median set in 2004.
The BSC has been successfully employed to assess and improve health service capacity and service delivery using performance benchmarking during the 5-year period. However, scorecard reconfigurations are needed to integrate effectiveness and efficiency measures and accommodate changes in health systems policy and strategy architecture to ensure its continued relevance and effectiveness as a comprehensive health system performance measure. The process of BSC design and implementation can serve as a valuable prototype for health policy planners managing performance in similar health care contexts.
Abstract: The Afghanistan Index is a statistical compilation of economic, public opinion and security data. This resource will provide updated and historical information on various data, including crime, infrastructure, casualties, unemployment, Afghan security forces and coalition troop strength.
The index is designed to assemble the best possible quantitative indicators of the international community’s counterinsurgency and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, to track them over time, and to offer an objective set of criteria for benchmarking performance. It serves as an in-depth, non-partisan assessment of American and international efforts in Afghanistan, and is based primarily on U.S. government, Afghan government and NATO data. Although measurements of progress in any nation-building effort can never be reduced to purely quantitative data, a comprehensive compilation of such information can provide a clearer picture and contribute to a healthier and better informed debate.
Ian S. Livingston, Heather L. Messera and Michael O'Hanlon spearhead the Afghanistan Index project at Brookings. Livingston and Messera are senior research assistants in Foreign Policy at Brookings. Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow and director of research in Foreign Policy.
Abstract: Successful counterinsurgency requires getting insurgents to switch sides. Former insurgents provide an invaluable source of information on their previous colleagues, and can ultimately cause momentum to shift toward counterinsurgent forces. This document examines reintegrating mid- and low-level insurgents into their local communities in Afghanistan and outlines steps to facilitate that reintegration process. The author discusses the factors that increase the likelihood of reintegrating fighters and the key options for fighters as they consider reintegration. Finally, he outlines operational and tactical steps that should be taken when insurgents consider reintegration.
Abstract: This report explores how the Haqqani network has historically functioned as a nexus organization and as a strategic enabler of local, regional and global forms of Islamist militancy. Specific attention is placed on examining the Haqqani network’s support for al-Qa`ida and its global jihad, and more recently the Pakistani Taliban. The report is based on a review of three jihadist magazines released in Pashto, Urdu and Arabic by the Haqqani network from 1989-1993; a series of digital videos produced by the group since 2001; and various memoirs written by al-Qa’ida linked fighters present in Afghanistan during the period under study (1973-2010). The authors also reviewed several thousand pages of letters written to and from Haqqani commanders during the 1980s and 1990s, which were captured in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion and have since been stored in the Department of Defense’s Harmony database. The report’s key findings provide insight into the Haqqani network’s identity and role; the nature of its relationships and the history and development of al-Qa’ida.
Abstract: Afghanistan experienced a 15 per cent increase in conflict-related civilian deaths in the first six months of 2011, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said today in releasing its 2011 Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The dramatic growth was mainly due to the use of landmine-like pressure plate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by Anti-Government Elements (AGEs).
UNAMA documented 1,462 civilian deaths in the period, with 80 per cent attributed to Anti-Government Elements, an increase of 28 percent in civilian deaths linked to AGEs from the same period in 2010. A further 14 per cent of civilian deaths were attributed to Pro-Government Forces (PGF), down nine per cent from the same span in 2010, while six per cent of civilian deaths were not attributed to any party to the conflict.
Afghanistan experienced a 15 per cent increase in conflict-related civilian deaths in the first six months of 2011, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said today in releasing its 2011 Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The dramatic growth was mainly due to the use of landmine-like pressure plate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by Anti-Government Elements (AGEs).
With 368 civilian deaths, May 2011 was the deadliest month for Afghan civilians since UNAMA began systematically documenting civilian casualties in 2007. In June 2011, a further 360 civilian deaths were recorded - 308 or 86 per cent of civilian deaths were attributed to AGEs, 18 deaths (five per cent) were linked to PGF and 34 deaths (nine per cent) were not attributed.
June also saw an all-time high in the number of security incidents in a single month and the highest-ever number of IED attacks recorded in a one-month period.
Abstract: This report describes the state of Afghanistan’s political parties after the 2009 and 2010 elections.
While the transition of most major parties from violent, ethnic-based factions was recent and in
some cases incomplete, this study indicates that the broader political landscape has changed
significantly in the post-2001 era. In the present day, Afghan parties continue to face considerable
challenges that hinder their development as credible political players. Based on 90 interviews with
party representatives and civil society, the report provides an overview of the present stage of
development among Afghan parties and evaluates party identity, institutional frameworks, party
performance, external factors and the relationships between parties and other political actors. The
report presents the parties’ own views on how and what kind of assistance should be provided to promote longer-term political development in Afghanistan, and provides recommendations for
Afghan and international actors on ways forward.
Abstract: On June 14, 2011, more than 200 policymakers and experts participated in an invitation-only, full-day working meeting at CSIS to discuss a constructive, realistic way forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The main topics were Afghan governance, the Afghan security sector, and Pakistani cooperation. Informed in part by expert presentations on these topics, participants formed 17 simultaneous working groups asking: What accomplishments are essential? What are not essential? And what lasting gains can realistically be achieved?
What most participants felt was important is for the Obama administration to publicly identify what it believes to be the minimal essential requirements for Afghan stability and U.S. security and the minimal essential conditions on the ground that would enable those requirements to be met. By offering guidance on what accomplishments are essential, the administration would encourage activities on the ground to be prioritized more constructively. As a modest contribution to that guidance, this report provides the key observations and suggestions that emerged from the conference discussions, focusing mainly on those issues on which there was broad (though never unanimous) agreement among the convened experts and policymakers.
Abstract: Almost a decade after the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the government of President Hamid Karzai is promoting talks with them as well as other insurgent groups. Facing a never-ending cycle of instability and conflict; escalating violence and high numbers of civilian casualties as well as pressure for an exit strategy from troop-contributing countries, there is strong domestic and international consensus on the need for a negotiated settlement.
In January 2010, a few months after the disputed presidential elections in which Karzai re-claimed the presidency despite massive fraud, at an international conference on Afghanistan (the "London Conference"), he garnered support for a peace process that would "reintegrate" insurgents who are willing to come to the table. In June 2010, the government held a Consultative Peace Jirga (assembly) in which the framework was set for the reconciliation process (the jirga was boycotted by some opposition politicians and by the Taliban). This was followed up by another ―International Conference on Afghanistan‖, this time held in Kabul in July 2010, in order "to endorse an Afghan Government-led plan for improved stability," including "commitments by donors to support programs to reintegrate combatants."
Abstract: Opium poppy cultivation has re-emerged in Balkh and Badakhshan in 2011. In Badakhshan,
it has spread across several districts in rainfed areas and, according to informal estimates,
the cultivated area has doubled from official figures of 1,100 hectares (ha) in 2010 to
around 2,200 ha. In Balkh—which was declared “poppy-free” in 2006—opium’s return
has been more location-specific; it is currently being planted openly on a small scale in
Chimtal District. While a rise in opium prices has played an important part, a range of
contextual factors including power, insecurity, social identity, agro-ecology and location
are also important in explaining the crop’s re-emergence, as well as the patterns of
difference within and between the two provinces.
Driven by a fall in production in the South in 2010, the rising price of opium is a
contributing factor to the expansion of cultivation. However, this has also taken place
in the context of a failing rural economy; many households are food insecure, rural
employment is scarce and there is rising insecurity. In the eyes of many rural informants,
promises made in 2006 to support the rural economy as a return for giving up opium
poppy cultivation have not been met. There is also a sense, especially in Badakhshan,
that southern provinces are being rewarded with greater levels of development funding
despite their failure to give up the crop.
Abstract: Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) moved into North Sudan's South Kordofan state capital Kadugli at the start of the month, triggering large-scale fighting with Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) units from the region. The UN reported heavy bombardment of villages by the SAF, widespread civilian casualties and at least 73,000 people forced to flee. It also accused the government of blocking aid deliveries and intimidating peacekeepers.
Violence spilled over into South Sudan, with several villages bombed by the North. On 28 June the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (North) signed an agreement on political and security arrangements for South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
In Afghanistan, a standoff between parliament and President Hamid Karzai threatens to deepen the country's political crisis.
Proposals by Senegal's ruling party to amend the constitution were condemned by opposition politicians as undemocratic and sparked unprecedented violent protests.
Myanmar/Burma saw its worst clashes since 2009, as fighting broke out between government forces and the Kachin ceasefire group. Tens of thousands have been displaced and some 20 reportedly killed.
In Mexico, a number of incidents highlighted the deterioration in security around Monterrey, the country's second city, industrial hub and capital of Nuevo León state.
In Venezuela, speculation about President Hugo Chávez's health intensified, leading to infighting within his ruling PSUV party and highlighting the country's lack of alternative leadership.
Abstract: This 2010 Afghanistan Cannabis Survey updates the first-ever Afghanistan Cannabis Survey that was
produced in 2009 by the UNODC and the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN). Based on years of
evidence from cannabis seizures that pointed to Afghanistan as a main cannabis producer, the 2009 survey
was the initial effort to systemically estimate cannabis cultivation and production in the country. The
findings confirmed Afghanistan’s role as a major grower of cannabis, but also discovered that the country
produced more cannabis resin or hashish than any other nation. The reason why was found to be the
country’s high yields, up to 145 kg of resin per hectare as compared to Morocco’s 40 kg per hectare.
The 2010 survey – based on data from yield studies, satellite imagery and village-level interviews with
farmers and headmen – found indications of both stability and change relative to the 2009 survey. Once
again, due to very high yields, Afghanistan produced the world’s largest supply of hashish, with a
production estimate of between 1,200 and 3,700 tons of cannabis resin a year – an estimate largely
unchanged from the year before when the resin yield was estimated to be 1,500 to 3,500 tons a year.
Abstract: Afghan civilians are caught in the middle of an intensifying military campaign against a fractured armed insurgency. Despite the U.S. military’s claims of progress, insurgent attacks are up by 50% over last year, and more than 250,000 people have fled their villages in the past two years. U.S. funded and trained militias are only exacerbating this explosive situation. As the U.S. begins to draw down its forces and transition responsibilities to the Afghan government, the Obama administration must mitigate further displacement and ensure that the Afghan government takes greater responsibility for the protection of displaced people. In addition, the UN must strengthen its capacity to respond to the growing humanitarian needs.
Abstract: The data highlight the failures that almost lost the Afghan War between 2002 and 2008. The US and its allies failed to adequately resource the Afghan campaign between 2002 and early 2009. The US gave the Iraq War priority to the extent that it did not provide the troops or funds necessary to prevent the Taliban from reentering and dominating much of the country. A combination of US and allied underfunding ensured that no credible effort was made to resource the creation of Afghan security forces until 2009, when the Taliban and Haqqani networks posed a major threat.SIGAR, Inspector General, and GAO reporting show that these failures were compounded by erratic programming and funding, and a total lack of effective control over spending and the contracting effort.
The broader failures in the US and ISAF war effort included lack of unity and realism in ISAF, an ineffective UN effort, and political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002-2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to emphasize the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.
Abstract: A combination of two critical problems threatens to undermine the mission of the United States–led coalition in Afghanistan: the failure of the counterinsurgency strategy and a disconnect between political objectives and military operations. If anything, the current strategy is making a political solution less likely, notably because it is antagonizing Pakistan without containing the rise of the armed opposition. That has put the coalition in a paradoxical situation, in which it is being weakened militarily by a non-negotiated and inevitable withdrawal while at the same time alienating potential negotiating partners.
The Obama administration has made new appointments to head the defense and intelligence agencies, and, in Afghanistan, has installed a new leadership to oversee U.S. military forces and named a new ambassador. The U.S. administration must take advantage of these appointments to establish greater coherence in both policy and operations:
1. The 2014 transition anticipated by the coalition is unrealistic because the Afghan army will not be capable of containing an insurgency that is gathering significant strength. If the transition were carried out, it would provide a considerable boost to the insurgency and, ultimately, the defeat of the Karzai regime.
2. In the border provinces of Pakistan, we are now seeing the creation of a sanctuary liable to harbor jihadist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and al-Qaeda fighters. This is alarming because counterterrorism operations cannot eliminate groups in a sanctuary that is steadily growing larger. Meanwhile, the coalition’s operations are essentially focused on the southern regions where these jihadist groups do not exist.
3. The Western withdrawal therefore inevitably requires a political agreement with the Taliban leadership, which implies abandoning the coalition’s reintegration policy. Confrontation with Pakistan is not an option since American leverage on Islamabad is limited and the Pakistani army has some influence over the insurgents, which would be useful should negotiations take place.
Abstract: The insurgency in Afghanistan has expanded far beyond its stronghold in the south east. Transcending its traditional Pashtun base, the Taliban is bolstering its influence in the central-eastern provinces by installing shadow governments and tapping into the vulnerabilities of a central government crippled by corruption and deeply dependent on a corrosive war economy. Collusion between insurgents and corrupt government officials in Kabul and the nearby provinces has increased, leading to a profusion of criminal networks in the Afghan heartland. Despite efforts to combat the insurgency in the south, stability in the centre has steadily eroded. Yet, with nearly one fifth of the population residing in Kabul and its surrounding provinces, the Afghan heartland is pivotal to the planned transition from international troops to Afghan forces at the end of 2014. Given the insurgency’s entrenchment so close to the capital, however, it appears doubtful that President Hamid Karzai’s government will be able to contain the threat and stabilise the country by then. Countering the insurgency in these crucial areas requires the implementation of long-overdue reforms, including more robust anti-corruption efforts, stricter oversight over international aid and greater support for capacity building in the judicial and financial sectors.