A new report from START researchers Rachel Gabriel, Max Erdemandi, and Barnett Koven suggests that the Taliban is in a stronger position on the battlefield given its continued ability to contest, take and hold Afghan territory through force of arms, but that the Taliban is also aware that total victory by force of arms is unrealistic. This report is intended to provide an analysis of when and under what conditions the Taliban might be willing to come to the negotiating table with the serious intention of reaching a peace agreement with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA). Drawing upon the academic literature on the bargaining model of war and lessons learned from comparisons to other peace negotiations between state and non-state actors, the report seeks to establish principles for evaluating if and when the Taliban could be incentivized to engage in serious negotiations. Noting the influential role of third parties, actors and interests this report examines both battlefield and off-the-battlefield considerations for the Taliban that may alter their interest in a negotiated settlement. In so doing, it provides insights for U.S. practitioners and policy-makers that balance the desire to further decrease the role of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan with the need for stability in Afghanistan.
Read the report “Bargaining On and Off the Battlefield: The Bargaining Model of War and Negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.”