Good afternoon friends,
Gharghashta (former Afghan MP) and I completed our work on the Afghanistan country page INPROL site! My consultations with her were very insightful, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet and learn from her. I am so happy to have completed my revisions to the country page (about 130 page word document). Now, I will go over citations according to the Chicago Manual of Style. After my departure from USIP, the INPROL team will scrutinize my edits and have everything vetted by our Afghanistan country experts before final review and revisions by USIP editors. I look forward to eventually seeing the final product, hopefully by the end of this calendar year. The INPROL team intends to provide the country page in the form of a brochure to our government agency partners (like the State Department and Department of Justice), so their professionals can have an excellent foundational resource on Afghanistan to better inform and prepare them for Afghanistan projects and programs.
I have also completed my edits to the Afghanistan Digital Library of outside resources on the INPROL site. Until my time is up here in another week, I will continue adding more resources. We are approaching 500! Also, huge update: in the near future the website will be revamped to allow public access to the digital libraries (general rule of law and Afghanistan). This will allow INPROL to even more greatly serve the rule of law field, and hopefully it will become an even more mainstream, trusted, and respected hub for all of those interested in the rule of law: students, teachers, practitioners, program officers, scholars, diplomats, government officials, etc! By the way, you should all follow USIP and INPROL on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!
The first ever U.S.-Africa summit is to be hosted at USIP the first week of August with President Obama, other U.S. leaders, and most of the heads of state of the 54 African nations. In anticipation of this groundbreaking event, this past week USIP hosted a conversation with some of the experts and policymakers on U.S.-Africa relations. Panel experts were Amb. Princeton Lyman, Amb. George Moose, Amb. Johnie Carson, and Susan Stigant. They discussed themes that could and should be prioritized at the summit. Look at this link for more information and video coverage!
Also exciting and in anticipation of the summit, National Security Advisor Susan Rice will deliver remarks on “Africa and America: Partners in a Shared Future” at USIP on July 30th.
For a helpful piece on the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan from a U.S. military perspective, see this article (link below). Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford (current commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan) told the U.S. Senate last week that he is confident that "the same mistakes that led to the current disaster in Iraq don’t have to happen again" in Afghanistan when U.S. troops pull out. His opinion is mostly based on two findings. (1) The "national army in Afghanistan...is in fact representative not only of the various ethnic groups, but representative geographically," which has not been the case in Iraq. (2) With regard to local perceptions on U.S. military presence: "the Afghan people want us to be in Afghanistan in overwhelming numbers. And I’ve recently spoken to both presidential candidates, and I can assure you that both presidential candidates also support a U.S. presence after 2014.” Gen. Dunford expressed his main concern to the senators that the U.S. not withdraw from Afghanistan prematurely, as the General believes we did in Iraq. For the most part, he agrees with President Obama's timetable for withdrawal except for the definitive cut off date of 2017.
As for the Afghan elections, here's an informative piece (link below). The audit of the Afghan runoff presidential election results are still dragging along, and it seems inevitable that the next presidential inauguration will be delayed beyond the planned August 2nd. Despite plans to have 100 teams working in two shifts inspecting around 1,000 ballot boxes a day, when the audit began on July 17th, only thirty teams were available and the Independent Election Commission has reported that number at eighty now. As of July 23, only about four percent of the ballot boxes had been audited. Some of the main obstacles to a timely and accurate audit include: lack of standardized procedure for invalidation, shortage of observers, and logistical challenges. I am hoping for a peaceful resolution to this election and stable future for Afghanistan.