While much of current international attention is focussed on the time from now to 2014, with the enteqal (handover) process moving into the focus – President Karzai just had defined the first seven areas of security responsibility affair, namely three full provinces and four other provincial capitals – in particular many Afghans look at the post-2014 period with fear. Our guest blogger Almut Wieland-Karimi(*) has thought about some scenarios – interestingly one which features a negotiated settlement with all post-2001 achievements preserved is not part of her list. [Destroyed Chehelsutun Palace in Kabul, result of the last civil war secenario — photo by Thomas Ruttig, 2005]
The International Community and the Afghan Government have a date to say good-bye to each other: 2014. By then, responsibility for the security of the country should be transferred to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and a major drawdown of NATO forces will take place. But what are possible post-2014 scenarios, between wishful thinking and the worst case?
Scenario “Victory!”: NATO forces together with ANSF prevail militarily over the insurgent groups, the Taliban & Co. The security situation is relatively stable, and the war is finished. The institution building and democratization process picks up pace and President Hamed Karzai hands over to a democratically elected successor. Afghanistan still ranks among the least developed countries in the world.
Scenario “Forced Marriage”: After long-standing political negotiations strongly supported by the international community, especially the United States and Great Britain, Islamist insurgents become part of a broad-based coalition government. Fighting ends and security is re-established. The constitution of 2003 has been amended and some rights, such as freedom of the press and women’s equality, have been limited. Regional players, such as Pakistan, India, China and Iran, are patrons of the peace agreement between the former insurgents and the Afghan government.
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Scenario “The Autocrat”: NATO has not succeeded militarily and political negotiations with the insurgents have failed. Karzai has taken the political initiative; he has changed the constitution and stays on in power after two legislative periods. His regime, democratic in name like the ones formerly known from Egypt or Tunisia, assumes an authoritarian style. Karzai looks for (new) national and international partners. However, the reach of the central government continues to be very limited. Therefore, in Southern and Eastern provinces Islamist groups like the Taliban have their zones of influence. Fighting occurs only occasionally.