What Lies Beneath the Enduring Stalemate in Afghanistan

Jun 27, 2018 | 08:00 GMT

An Afghan soldier on patrol in southern Afghanistan, Dec. 11, 2014.

An Afghan soldier on patrol in southern Afghanistan, Dec. 11, 2014. The military stalemate in Afghanistan endures almost 17 years after the United States invasion in October 2001.



  • The stalemate in Afghanistan endures, with the Afghan government continuing to control the country's urban areas while the Taliban command large areas of the countryside.
  • Foreign support, the Afghan government's failures and the Taliban's deep ties within Afghanistan's rural social fabric are central to the persistence of the Afghan insurgency.
  • Negotiations are the only real alternative toward ending the conflict in the short term, but myriad obstacles stand in the way.

Almost 17 years after the start of the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgency rages on with no end in sight. And despite the launch last summer of a new strategy and a considerable ramp-up in air power, the United States appears no closer to breaking the stalemate, in which the central government in Kabul continues to control Afghanistan's urban areas and the Taliban exerts influence over wide swaths of the countryside. Foreign support and the failure of the Afghan state are central to the continued endurance of the Afghan insurgency. Another key element -- often overlooked -- is the Taliban's success in establishing deep ties within Afghanistan's rural social fabric....

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