Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Ahead of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah’s Visit, CAP Outlines Needed Economic, Security, Corruption Reforms in Afghanistan
Press Release

RELEASE: Ahead of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah’s Visit, CAP Outlines Needed Economic, Security, Corruption Reforms in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C. — Next week, the Afghanistan national unity government will make an historic trip to Washington as part of the government’s first official visit to the United States. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah will meet with U.S. officials in an attempt to reinvigorate the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship. In a comprehensive package of issue briefs, the Center for American Progress lays out recommendations on how the U.S.-Afghan partnership can address the most pressing challenges facing Afghanistan’s reform agenda.

These products focus on four major areas: economic invigoration, security reform, counternarcotics, and tackling rampant corruption.

“These briefs represent a comprehensive look at the challenges facing Afghanistan in the post-2014 period,” said Ariella Viehe, CAP senior fellow. “For Afghanistan’s reform agenda to work, these main areas of conflict must be addressed. The United States has an opportunity to cement a productive relationship with the new Afghan unity government, and we are looking forward to seeing whether the visit of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to Washington will produce a joint U.S.-Afghan approach to these issues and reinforce the transition.”

“Afghanistan is transitioning toward self-sufficiency, and U.S. support for the government and people of Afghanistan remains critically important. There is a renewed sense of hope with the national unity government and greater political will to tackle the tough issues confronting the country,” noted Mary Beth Goodman, CAP senior fellow.

Economic reforms:

  • Economic growth and stability are the backbone of Afghanistan’s reform agenda and have been consistently neglected. Sixty-eight percent of the Afghan population is younger than 25, and many of these youth have lived almost their entire lives in a war-centric environment. A thriving economy is needed in order to provide jobs for this young population. Economic stability will also make other reforms in the security and anticorruption spaces more effective. The report calls for international aid to incentivize the economic changes needed to spur growth.

Security reforms:

  • Security efforts made by the new unity government have been markedly different from the security policy of former President Hamid Karzai. The national unity government has demonstrated stauncher political commitment to reform and security—signing the bilateral security agreement and the NATO-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement—as well as prioritizing negotiations with neighboring countries on long-stalled peace processes. With the United States contemplating adjustments to the troop commitment, the brief makes several recommendations both on the ground and internationally to help improve the Afghan National Security Forces’ ability to secure the country.

Anticorruption reforms:

  • Corruption has plagued Afghanistan’s political and economic reform efforts for years and infiltrated nearly every facet of Afghan institutions. The national unity government has indicated that it will make anticorruption efforts a high priority, and the United States should support the political momentum to combat corruption and partner in those efforts with a focus on the recommendations presented in this brief.

Counternarcotics reforms:

  • Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium despite a massive infuse of foreign assistance to fight the drug trade. Prioritizing reforms to follow the illicit drug money offer the best hope to curb the narcotics production in Afghanistan but will require prioritized anti-money laundering efforts by the Afghan government.

Read the briefs:

Click here for more about CAP’s work on the Afghanistan.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.