Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, August 1st, 2021

Why Afghanistan Matters for the US

The eighth round of peace talks between the Taliban and the United States started in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
It is expected that this session of negotiations to be the most crucial phase of talks to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan as a peace agreement is expected at the end of this round of talks.
Once a peace agreement is signed between the two countries, they may mainly focus on sustainable economic partnership to ensure mutual economic interests of the US and Afghanistan.
When peace is restored in the war torn Afghanistan, the country will be able to play a strategic role in the regional economic development and regional connectivity. Afghanistan as a fast growing emerging market will gain a vital significance in the region due to its strategic importance close to some of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world. Afghanistan is strategically located between the energy-rich republics of Central Asia and the major seaports in South Asia, providing a key transit route for central Asian oil and gas to markets in South Asia as well as overseas.
Further, it has been stated that Afghanistan holds greater than one trillion dollars’ worth of mineral resources, including gold, iron, copper, aluminum, gemstones, chromite, Sulphur, and talc.
Based on the above mentioned factors Afghanistan can change to an important political and economic partner for the United States. However, the vital role that Afghanistan can play in improving the regional security must not be overseen. Due to its geopolitical location, it can contribute either to strengthening security or worsening it in the region. Therefore, to forge a strong, new partnership, leaders from both countries should look holistically at how to improve Afghanistan’s economic and security resiliency as well as maximize its enormous potential as a regional leader and long-term partner for the U.S.
The US shall emphasize on the importance of collaboration and partnership on security, governance and regional leadership of Afghanistan. These three priorities are interrelated and are of critical importance to increased partnership between the Afghanistan and the US. IS Khorasan, Al-Qaeda and more conservative parts of Taliban will remain as terrorist groups that threaten the peace and security of the regional and the world fighting forces; Thus, violent extremism remains a major challenge in addition to other growing tensions between and among communities along social, ethnic, religious and economic lines in the country.
So far the core Afghan government policies and practices have been reactive rather than proactive in addressing vulnerability and violence. Weakness in the criminal justice system poorly funded local government structures, corruption, and detached national policies have eroded trust between communities and government, further diminishing the ability of government to mitigate tensions within and between communities. Dropping commodity prices and unprecedented and unpredictable   have underscored the shortcoming of social and economic policies, resulting in reactive responses to crises only as they explode or long after they have exploded. As a result, Afghan government needs structural reforms in these areas. The US and international community shall help Afghan government to bring such fundamental reforms if they want the country not to change to the save heaven of the terrorist groups.
The current failure by Afghanistan to prioritize the causes rather than the consequences of crises has been bad for Afghan and U.S. interests. Due to the urgent needs once crises have exploded, we have seen over reliance on the deployment of security forces, leading to tensions and potential flashpoints that undermine security.
A stabilized and peaceful Afghanistan has positive impacts for American businesses, international security, and the stability of the entire region. A secure Afghanistan means Afghanistan cannot export criminality and violence, as well as import it from its neighbors in crisis. As the U.S. pushes to eradicate, Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their affiliates, preventing violence from Conservative Taliban members and other terrorist groups are critical to this effort.
Yet the United States should not view Afghanistan as a set of problems to be eradicated, but as an opportunity to invest and strengthen the ability of Afghanistan to handle national and regional crises on its own. The U.S. must engage Afghanistan as a partner and resource in the region through political, economic, development, and security cooperation. It should support Afghanistan in strengthening detection and response to early warning signs, practical security reforms to improve response and community-trust, and respect and tolerance to religious freedom and ethnic diversity. 
Afghanistan is the trendsetter in Central and South Asia and an important partner for the U.S. government and American businesses. Security, governance, and regional leadership are three areas where the U.S. and Afghanistan must work together to address Afghanistan as more than the sum of its parts. Overall, our two countries need to progress their partnership beyond the reactive response to segmented crises to forge a holistic partnership that promotes the long-term growth and stability that is in our mutual interests. A peace deal with the Taliban is the golden opportunity for Afghanistan to lay a foundation for long term economic and security partnership with the US to ensure sustainable security and economic development in the region and beyond.