With the global military and economic presence in Afghanistan beginning to ebb, leaders of the war-torn nation continue to face severe problems but the United Nations is an unlikely mediator for peace in the region, a foreign policy analyst said March 12 at a Chatham House meeting in London.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan continues to call for talks to end the violence, but the world body is seen as too biased to bring all sides together in a meaningful way, according to Dr. Robert Johnson, director of the Changing Character of War Programme at the University of Oxford.
Other mediators would probably be more trusted by all sides, Johnson said. To determine who may best work with all sides, Johnson said, leaders must listen to what leaders of various factions and tribal interests say about who they feel can be trusted.
The U.N. Security Council authorized the mission in 2001, and was charged with aiding in the nation’s reconstruction, monitoring human rights, helping the government with security and helping stamp out corruption.
The mission comes to a formal end later this month.
Even though governments from throughout the world have extended about $60 billion in economic and military aid to Afghanistan, the country remains poor with little opportunity for development, said Javad Nader, director of the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group.
Due to Afghanistan’s terrain and weather, development of electricity sources and roads are more expensive than average, Nader said, and whether outside sources will be of assistance will be determined by political pressures in other nations.
Historically, Afghanistan has found it tough to make it on its own and has depended on outside revenue.
The withdrawal of troops may help the peace process, said Matt Waldman, a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.
Foreign troops are seen by many in Afghanistan as invaders. Describing the Taliban as “war weary” with internal pressures to seek an end to violence, Waldman said removal of troops may help bring dissenters to the bargaining table.
Solutions are long term and unpredictable, said Michael Keating, the senior fellow of the Asia Programme at Chatham House.
Young people are more optimistic than older people, Keating said, and it is inevitable that those who have led the fight for two or three decades will fade with younger people taking their places.
There is no guarantee, Keating stressed, that a generational shift will help resolve Afghanistan’s problems.