This case study report is part of the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series
Afghanistan is once again on the cusp of a bloody fighting season, which this year didn’t even relent during the winter. In fact, since 2014 the Taliban has mounted and sustained its toughest military campaign yet, and the war has become bloodier than ever. Extensive predatory criminality, corruption, and power abuse—not effectively countered by the Afghan government—have facilitated the Taliban’s entrenchment.
The transition choices by the Afghan government and the international community—including the embrace of problematic warlords for the sake of short-term military battlefield advantages, and as tools of political co-optation—shaped and reinforced criminality and corruption in the post-2001 Afghanistan. In turn, this delegitimized the post-Taliban political dispensation. Indeed, generalized predatory criminality in Afghanistan lies at the crux of Afghanistan’s dire and fragile predicament.
In this case study report, the author identifies 4 possible inflection points where the international community and Afghan government could have fundamentally altered the course after the initial choices on the informal distribution of power and its connections to criminality were made in 2001:
- the 2004 disarmament effort
- the beginning of the Obama administration and its surge of resources in Afghanistan
- the 2014 formation of the National Unity Government (NUG)—whose two protagonists, President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah crucially campaigned on an anti-corruption platform
- the October 2015 Taliban takeover of Kunduz City
There is also a blog and a brief video interview with the author.
This research was funded under the Department for International Development’s Policy Research Fund
Felbab-Brown, Vanda. Myanmar Maneuvers: How to Break Political-Criminal Alliances in Contexts of Transition United Nations University Centre for Policy Research Crime-Conflict Nexus Series: No 8, April 2017, 37p
Afghanistan Affectations: How to Break Political-Criminal Alliances in Contexts of Transition