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Afghanistan: Past, Present, & Future

Weeda Mehran, co-director of the Centre for Advanced International Studies (CAIS) hosted a round table event for students with Co-director Dr Stephane Baele on the 4th October titled Afghanistan: Past, Present & Future.

‘20 years after their defeat in the first act of the US “War on Terror”, the Taliban are now back in power in Afghanistan following the rapid US withdrawal. What lies ahead for this conflict-torn country? Was the withdrawal a strategic error or a belated necessity? How is the Afghan security predicament shaped by broader international tensions?’ The roundtable set out to offer different perspectives on these questions and other related debates, to engage students in conversations and dialogues by exposing them different perspectives.

Weeda Mehran is herself from Afghanistan. Her academic study focuses on internal politics and dynamics in the country, such as state building, warlordism and a comparative analysis of terrorism across the region. Also participating was David Blagden, Senior Lecturer in International Security at the Strategy and Security Institute within the Department of Politics who talked about the UK's approach to Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the British troops and Dr Stephen Baele, whose research chiefly focuses on the role of language in political violence and (in)security, from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Speaking alongside academics were a journalist - Lynne O'Donnell – who had been reporting on the unfolding of events Afghanistan and had left the country the day before Kabul fell, a diplomat - Chris Alexander, Former Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan who joined the event online and one of the chief negotiators of the former Afghan government who was negotiating with the Taliban prior to events, Nader Nadery, Peace Negotiator and former chairman of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, who also joined online.

‘The aim was to give our students exposure to different perspectives from people coming from different viewpoints and interact with each other. We had interesting debates and discussion because people came from very different points of view, which left the students wanting to continue the conversation. The event was part of the CAIS approach, of seeking to encourage a community of dialogue and discussion.’

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