When Army Major General Christopher T. Donahue boarded a C-17 on August 30 2021 at Kabul International Airport, he drew to an end the 20-year Western involvement in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, the Taliban completed their rapid advance on the capital, taking power and instilling its government.
In the year that has passed since this moment, Afghanistan’s troubles have exacerbated. The country is now home to one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises. At least 90 per cent of the population is currently living below the poverty line. The country’s economy has been crippled by the added pressures of financial sanctions on the banking sector.
Islamic State and other terror groups have attacked the nascent regime. Minority groups have been attacked adding to the drivers of outward migration. Human rights groups are concerned as the Taliban continue implementing their extreme interpretations of Sharia Law which predominantly banishes women to homes. The regression of women’s rights and banning girls from school beyond grade six are stark reminders of the difficult conditions in Afghanistan.
Once the focus of international attention, Afghanistan has been abandoned by much of the international community as the events of 2021 fade from memory. Afghans are also competing for international attention as crises in other parts of the world occupy Western policymaking and media.
This expert panel will discuss the following key questions:
What are the immediate actions that need to happen to alleviate the country from hunger and poverty?
Have the Taliban managed to win over Afghans?
Who talks to the Taliban? Who are their allies?
Have regional players seen any significant fallout from the vacuum created by the American withdrawal?
As with all Chatham House member events, questions from members drive the conversation.