Building legitimacy and state capacity in Afghanistan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter demonstrates that Afghanistan has been greatly affected by the persistence of exclusive political and economic institutions, elite rivalry and fragmentation, unsustainable fiscal bases of successive regimes, a weak economy, the landlocked nature of the country and its complex social mosaic. Great power rivalry and multiple invasions of Afghanistan have exacerbated or added to its problems. From 2002 to 2021, significant progress was made in building a representative government, public institutions and legitimacy, expanding public services and guaranteeing the fundamental rights of people. The economy grew substantially, which sustained nearly a decade of strong growth until 2014. The period was also marked by US military intervention, massive foreign military and economic aid to Afghanistan and implementation of paradoxical policies. Nevertheless, the state remained highly fragile before the republic collapsed in August 2021, showing a path dependency in the process of state-building. Subsequently, the return of the Taliban to power reversed many of the gains achieved in the last two decades. This chapter argues that Afghanistan will remain exposed to domestic and external shocks, with great power rivalry affecting it significantly, where the flow and nature of foreign aid will remain crucial for the survival of the state and economy. Building a stable polity in Afghanistan requires a settlement among different local actors as well as among regional and global powers that would bring an end to conflict and external spoilers supporting the conflict through their proxies, and a transition from exclusive politics and development to a more inclusive politics and development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationState Fragility : Case Studies and Comparisons
EditorsNematullah Bizhan State Fragility : Case Studies and Comparisons, edited by Nema
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Print)9781003297697
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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