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Ambassador Jawad Addresses Engagement with Taliban at Carnegie

During an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on May 12 launching a new report on Afghanistan, Ambassador Said T. Jawad directly addressed the issue of engagment with the Taliban and spoke of the need for institution-building as a key to success in Afghanistan.

The report, titled "Reconciling with the Taliban? Towards an Alternative Grand Strategy in Afghanistan" and authored by Dr. Ashley Tellis, argues that negotiation with the Taliban would not work as a resolution to the violence in Afghanistan and cites the need for a "grand strategy" for victory.

Ambassador Jawad noted that any discussions with the Taliban need to be undertaken from a position of strength, and current circumstances would now prove unfavorable for any such initiatives.

"It is true that under the current security threat level any 'reconciliation' process is premature and a weak policy option," he stated. "Negotiation with the Taliban will succeed only if we talk to them from the position of strength. As long as they are perceived to be successful, they do not need to talk to us. For the Taliban, victory merely means destroying and disrupting. If we cannot effectively stop them from doing so, why should they talk to us?"

In discussing the Taliban, Ambassador Jawad highlighted the different types of engagement that are necessary. For ideological Taliban associated with Al Qaeda, military engagement would be necessary, while mid-level mercenaries and low-level foot soldiers could be engaged with financial incentives, jobs, and education.

"We need to engage the Taliban," he argued. "However, the engagement will only succeed if the Taliban are denied sanctuaries and ideological, financial and logistical support in Pakistan and are convinced that they are losing on the battleground."

Ambassador Jawad also cited parts of the report that called for institution- and capacity-building as key parts of the new U.S. strategy towards Afghanistan. "Building institutions, especially the security forces, justice system and expanding the capacity of government institutions to deliver services is a vital component of any successful strategy for victory in Afghanistan and should not be seen as an alternative, but rather as the main pillar of sustainable security," he said.

Calling Dr. Tellis' report "timely and insightful," Ambassador Jawad expressed his agreements with the reports main points. "I completely agree with his fundamental argument on the need for clarity of objectives and consistency of message for the international community in Afghanistan," he said.

Full Text of Ambassador Jawad's Prepared Remarks (.PDF)

Full Transcript of Ambassador Jawad's Remarks (.PDF)

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