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30 September 2021

Economic collapse, war and 'female uprising' could be part of Afghanistan's future

Events from the School of Security Studies discuss the past, present and future of the turbulent nation

woman in afghanistan

A global audience joined the School of Security Studies for its recent roundtable featuring prominent Afghan voices and scholars.

Impending economic collapse, the risk of another war and a ‘female uprising’ could all be part of the future for Afghanistan, a round table heard this week.

The event, held by the School of Security Studies, featured scholars of Afghanistan and former Afghan government ministers and citizens, some of whom recently fled the country following the withdrawal of US troops and Taliban takeover.

They spoke about the most likely scenarios for the future of Afghanistan and how the western policy community should respond, plus shared first-hand experiences of human rights atrocities over the past few weeks, particularly around the treatment of women and the crisis surrounding civil servants.

They addressed fears of an impending economic collapse, how the world cannot ignore the potential danger of another proxy war in Afghanistan, and the increasing resistance from women, potentially leading to a ‘female uprising’.

The event on 29 September 2021 also looked at what lessons have been learned over the last 20 years since the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan, toppled the Taliban and remade the country's political map and fundamentally challenged the institutions of Afghan society.

The discussion centred around the analysis of past and present activities, how these will impact the future of the state and what needs to be done to ensure stability.

The online event attracted a large, diverse attendance from across the globe with panellists Dr Christine Cheng, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at King’s College London, and Professor Faten Ghosn, Distinguished Professor in the School of Government and Public Policy and Faculty at the University of Arizona.

Also speaking at the event were two Petersen Scholarship recipients, Mr Abdullah Khenjani, former Deputy Minister of Coordination, Strategy & Policy in Afghanistan's State Ministry for Peace, Ms Nargis Nehan, former Director General of the Treasury Department at the Ministry of Finance, and Mr Najib Sharifi, President of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC).

The Taliban takeover raises so many questions for peace and security in the region - but we haven't heard much about what Afghans think about the situation. How do they see the situation? And how can we make sense of the current situation given that the country is still quite susceptible to a civil war? I'm incredibly grateful that both of my former students, Abdullah and Najib, both made it safely out of Afghanistan - and I hope we can create a space for Afghans to talk openly about their hopes for the country

Dr Christine Cheng, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, King's College London

The panellists discussed issues around the identity of the multi-religion nation and the lack of one, uniform, inclusive Islamic government, despite 57 states identifying as Islamic.

They also spoke about the regional aspect of the conflicting opinions, interference and differing support of neighbouring states and external actors, and how some of these network alliances have been going on undetected for a long time.

Watch the event recording here: 

This event followed last week’s online panel discussion from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) which drew on the Institute’s cutting edge research on terrorism and counter-terrorism to analyse the series of major international military interventions by the US and its allies since 9/11, which became known as the ‘War on Terror’.

The discussion was led by Dr Shiraz Maher, ICSR Director and included subject matter expertise from Professor Lord Jonathan Evans, Former Director-General of MI5, Dr Aleksandra Dier, United Nation’s Women’s Regional Advisor on Peace and Security in the Middle East and North Africa and formerly Gender Coordinator at the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and Muska Dastageer, Lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF).