Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Negotiations as Conflict Management: A Model for a Win-Win Approach to Conflicts

Afghanistan is a country with persistent conflicts. If one may go through the history of the country, will come to a common conclusion that every government more or less has been facing them; Conflicts. If we only have a glance at the 3 past years, at least had 4 deadlocked political conflicts; refusal of the presidential election results, tensions on the mechanisms of power distribution between the two winning teams, conflict between the President and his first vice president and tensions between the ousted Balkh provincial governor and the central government. I assume, the roots of all these conflicts lie in political economy, as one of the core causes of the political tensions, in our country.
Thus, this article is an analytical study of the political economy of Afghanistan as one of the main causes of conflict here. The widely accepted generic definition of the term “political economy” means “the political basis of economic decision making and economic basis of political decision making. In other words, it means the way in which economic resources are generated and used by participating segments and actors, internal and external, located in specific areas characterized by so-called internal conflicts, to ensure their own existence and extend their own political and economic privileges.
In this article, I would like to use the concept of conflict transformation as the framework for analysis. Conflict transformation is a process in which a conflict changes in scope and scale, both in intensity and geographic space, actors involved, the “casual factors that move and ignite the conflict and its consequences. To be precise, conflict is a dynamic phenomenon. The types of conflicts that I am concerned with in this article are purely domestic conflicts. Considering the current conflict between the central government and Ata Mohammad Noor, the provincial governor of Balkh province is typical example of this type of conflicts. No external actors or actors were involved in the beginning. However, as more often than not, the dynamic of the conflict quickly expands the borders of the country drawing neighboring countries, regional powers and even super powers to it. As we witnessed, this conflict at the beginning was considered as an internal issue between the central government and Mr. Noor, the provincial governor of Balkh province, but then it transformed to an ethnic conflict and later transformed to a wider circle, an alliance conflict, that made the powerful chief of police of Qandahar,  to react against it; later it transformed it to a national issue and made Mike Pence, The US Vice president, to react on it and to call the National government to seek ways to resolve it through negotiations.
Analysis of Political economy of conflicts shall encompass diverse forces both in terms of the root causes and in the negotiation context. The economic political forces that give rise to the tensions include personal ethics and endemic corruption.
As Afghanistan is a country prone to various conflicts, it is necessary for the government institutions and authorities to review the root causes of these conflicts in full scale and a comprehensive manner. It also calls them to go through the successful lessons of other countries and develop tools and mechanisms to manage conflicts more strategically; a win-win one process. This include:
Conflict Management: The process of Scenario Definition
The process of creating conflict scenarios forms part (a) of the definition of conflict management. “deliberate action taken to identify and define relevant conflicts in an unbiased manner.” Unbiasedness is an issue that we most often lack in identifying the conflicts and their root causes; such an approach has always enflamed the tension in our country. To do it in a fair manner, the negotiators shall develop a list of conflicts under two headings--- “content” and “process. Based on this, the negotiators shall elaborate the tensions with patience and in a strategic manner to make a fair decision both at the macro and micro levels.
Tension Management: Items (b) and (c) ---- Dealing with conflicts
At these phases, the negotiator shall consider any calculated action that alters the balance of conflicts or shapes their influence, or any calculated attempt to avoid action that would influence conflicts. The consequences of such acts have been so dear for our country; in some specific conflicts in the past years the government has established a certain group to negotiate according pre-established biased agendas and the negotiations not only have had no fruits, but have resulted to overall misunderstanding and suspiciousness to agendas and proposals among the conflicting parties. To deal in a comprehensive manner with the conflicts, the negotiator shall consider the national interests at the macro level and the personal interests at the micro level of the conflict. In our country, a mechanism to ensure is to consider the Constitution as the “role of the game” and elaborate the various aspects of the conflict resolution according to the overriding principles set by it.

To sum up, Afghanistan as a multi-ethnic country is prone to various conflicts. Political economy plays a central role in enflaming and igniting these conflicts by various enablers including, ethnic, religion, regional, etc. To manage these conflicts, the government institutions and authorities shall have a realistic understanding of the causes and consequences of the conflicts. They can do this through studying the root causes of the conflicts in Afghanistan and also go through the lessons learnt in other countries. Equal distribution of all opportunities and managing the conflicts in wise and calculated manner not only reduce the severe consequences of the conflicts, but results to mutual understanding and improving the social cohesion in the country. Applying a win-win strategy and negotiation model based on the constitution ensures a lasting political stability in the country.