By Alexa van Sickle, Assistant Editor
As NATO prepares to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a key part of the transition to Afghan security leadership will be persuading members of the Taliban insurgency to reconcile with the government in Kabul. The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP) designed to do this has so far encouraged 5,000 insurgents to give up their weapons, according to Major General David Hook of the Royal Marines.
Hook told the IISS this week that only 20% of Taliban interviewed as they entered the programme claimed to be fighting for ideological reasons. Often, they were motivated instead by local grievances.
‘Part of the design of the APRP was to address these local grievances,’ said Hook. ‘If you address [the grievance] locally, you can pull them in.’ This was particularly important because analysis also showed that more than 75% of ordinary fighters remained within 20 miles of their village. About 78% of all those joining the APRP process said they did so because they were tired of fighting.
The APRP, an Afghan-led social reintegration process backed by international funding, is one of three related reconciliation-and-reintegration ‘tracks’ in Afghanistan, alongside political negotiations towards a ‘grand bargain’ between the government and Taliban leaders, and so-called ‘high-level reintegration’ seeking to persuade insurgent leaders to stop fighting the government and support it instead.
By Antonio Sampaio, Research Assistant, Survival and the Armed Conflict Database
Bogota has never been closer to a successful peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The signs are positive: the group, weakened by devastating military operations and the resulting loss of many veteran leaders, has agreed to engage in talks even without a ceasefire, and the participation of foreign governments with whom FARC shares ideological affinities – Cuba and Venezuela – is likely to defuse some of the tension. The talks begin on 15 October, and a joint press conference will be held on 17 October.
But there is more to FARC’s motives than meets the eye. In addition to its strategic defeats, FARC’s political struggle seems to be on the wane. There has been an erosion of FARC’s ideological integrity and an increasing disconnect between its central leadership and mid-level commanders. These developments may have helped bring FARC to the negotiating table, but could also make the peace process more complicated.
There’s a spot-on quote on Syria from Emile Hokayem, our Senior Fellow for Middle East Security, in Time today. Hokayem has long highlighted the problematic splits in the Syrian opposition. Now he tells Time that President Bashar al-Assad, for his part, is playing a masterful game. Assad’s tour of Homs on Tuesday (pictured), and his supposed acceptance of special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace deal matches the president’s ‘three-leg strategy’. The messages Assad wants to send are clear, Hokayem says: that his military strategy worked; that he makes reforms on his terms; and that he can accept Annan’s plan to please his allies ‘and give them some room’.
You can also read more of Hokayem’s thoughts in his recent Survival article, Syria and its neighbours.