Afghanistan’s relative prioritization as a UK national security issue has slipped after the NATO-led military transition in Afghanistan in 2014. The long-awaited Integrated Review only mentioned Afghanistan twice in vague terms. The last British combat troops left Afghanistan in October 2014 and only around 1,000 British troops remain in the country as part of the non-combat NATO Resolute Support Mission.
Meanwhile, the conflict with the Taliban has resulted in devastating violence for ordinary Afghans. The so-called intra-Afghan talks, which began in Doha between the Afghan government and the Taliban in September last year, has been without tangible progress so far. This has followed an agreement between the US and the Taliban in February 2020 which committed to the withdrawal of US troops by May 2021. However, US President Joe Biden’s recent remarks – and the prevailing circumstances in Afghanistan – suggest the US may not meet the May deadline resulting in threats from the Taliban to resume conflict against foreign troops.
In this discussion, the panellists explore the prospects for UK-Afghanistan relations:
Will the UK continue to exert influence through a multi-national approach within NATO?
How are the UK government’s cuts to its overseas development aid budget impacting developmental and humanitarian support to Afghanistan?
And how can the UK advocate for the protection of human rights, particularly the rights of women and minorities, as concerns grow that these might be the trade-offs in talks with the Taliban?
As with all member events, questions from the audience drive the conversation.