The prolonged engagement of the international community, particularly the US, in Afghanistan is necessary for propping up the fragile central government and the security apparatus in its fight against the insurgents. Also, the continuation of substantial foreign aid is essential for maintaining Afghan security forces and the local economy. This paper discusses the dilemma faced by both the international community and the US regarding continued presence in Afghanistan.
The policy brief begins by shedding light on the current situation, where the international community finds itself between a rock and a hard place, due to economic pressures caused by the global financial crisis and a desire to continue providing aid and security. The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) however, was recently finalized, where it was agreed that financial assistance from the US would continue beyond 2014, but details are still lacking.
The author continues and argues that long-term American presence may exacerbate regional players, most notably, Iran, which sees the status quo as a threat. Mere US presence may also be problematic, since the Taliban refuses to hold any talks before a complete withdrawal of foreign military presence takes place. The author ends with a number of critical findings, some of which are:
continued engagement of the international community is essential in order to prevent the complete negation of achievements during the past decade
existing currents and counter-currents, in the West and locally, are going to make it harder for coalition partners and the US to increase the magnitude of their support and involvement in the country
reduction of aid for development and failure to reach a settlement with the Taliban are limitations to the prolonged engagement of the west in Afghanistan, possibly intensifying conflict