Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Why Afghanistan’s War Continue

Afghanistan has been in conflict more than four decades. The continues conflict in Afghanistan requires to be assessed and analyzed realistically in order to find a recipe to put an end to it. State collapse, civil conflict, ethnic disintegration and multisided interventions are the main elements of the conflicts in Afghanistan that have locked our country in a self-perpetuating cycle. As the past peace building efforts in our country show, it requires a holistic Afghan led conflict management process rather that looking for the outside resolution.
Although, the United States and its allies publicly support their intervention and extending it in Afghanistan, but in private they are worried and think they have been trapped. After 18 years they have not been able to produce a recipe for ending the war in Afghanistan and contrary to the expectations of the Afghan citizens and international community, the scope and nature of the war has changed and extended across different parts of the country, including the secure areas.
Indeed, there is a strong reason that makes Afghanistan’s conflict, continue. To identify this reason one shall carefully assess the following variables to provide a realistic picture of the origins of conflicts and their causes. This will enable the Afghan government to address them properly. 
The Paradox of Peace-Building in Afghanistan
Any Afghanistan strategy suffers from a seemingly unresolvable contradiction in its heart; in other words, any agenda needs two conditions: To end the fighting and to rebuild the state. It is a clear fact that peace and governance reinforce each other, create space for other goals like rooting terrorists, tackling corruption or improving the national economy. However, peace initiatives in Afghanistan have not ended to this goal: as the political scientists assume, when a state has failed, improving either one can end up setting back the other. It has caused Afghanistan to struggle between these two endlessly. Afghans have adapted to their country disintegration, by setting up, informal institutions, mostly under warlords or ethnic leaders. These systems have been rife with corruption and injustice, but they could produce relative peace in the country. The problem is that the more these ethnic elites grew, the greater the threat they pose to the central government, as a result rebuilding the Afghanistan’s state has become a conflict- producing exercise.
The United States and allies have supported state building in Afghanistan, claiming that Afghan institutions can impose a more sustainable peace, even though, its pace is slow. However, this process puts the state at odds with the Afghan local warlords and ethnic elites and armed groups who had risen in its absence. As the history of the Afghanistan’s conflict show, such mechanism just have increased conflict and deepened insecurity. Both international community and the Afghan government have worked for peace building through local militias and warlords who undermine the authority of the Afghan government due to having no other options. In fact, this is a process that they continue currently too. Political experts hold that, in short term, it works. However, in the long term, this strategy has undermined and would undermine the government, would further alienate the Afghans, and push them to be controlled by those who care about nothing but ensuring their illegal interest.
Afghanistan, Trapped Among Different Rivals
One of other major variables of continuous war in Afghanistan is its location at the mercy of several powers, all of these powers believe the stability of Afghanistan would benefit them, but at the same time fears losing its dominance by another country. As a result, we usually face the unacceptance of peace initiatives by one of these neighboring powers in our country. In terms of geopolitical location and importance, as a result Afghanistan is in the heart of geopolitical rivalries: Russia and the United States, Pakistan and India, Iran and the United States. Each of these powers has its favored proxy. So far, there has been no peace option to satisfy all of these rival powers, but the regional economic partnership initiative taken by the Afghan president may be an option that may help all five come ahead.
Divisions with self-deepening nature
Although, ethnic diversity is a critical advantage, but it has provided another obstacle against the stability in the country due to corrupt governance of ethnic diversity. Of course, the war in Afghanistan did not begin as an ethnic conflict and it was mainly focused on countering the communist ideology in the country. The assassination of Mir Akbar Khaiber, a prominent member of the communist pro,Jamiate Democratic Khalq Afghanistan, was the turning pint of conflict in Afghanistan: dividing the nation to communist pro and Islamists.
However, communities gradually coalesced around local ethnic and religious groups. As the war continued and each group fought for control, their divisions widened- it acted as a self-reinforcing cycle that has continuously widened violence and led to creation of barriers to peace in Afghanistan. The targeted attack of the Taliban, ISIS, and HN on specific ethnic and religious groups in Afghanistan has further deepened the distrust between Afghan ethnicities and identity has become stronger among them. As a result, if the conflict goes on, ethnic fractions would become more salient as a vicious cycle of violence.
Contiguous conflict in Afghanistan has many reasons including paradox in peace building efforts, geopolitical location with rival regional and beyond regional powers, and ethnic self-deepening divisions. These challenges require to be addressed comprehensively: to initiate policies focused on ethnic trust building and ensuring scarce resources and opportunities are distributed equally among different ethnicities. This would improve state’s legitimacy and would weaken the ethnic warlords and leaders that use ethnic agendas to ensure their own interest.