The Future of Afghanistan and Britain’s Role in It
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The Future of Afghanistan and Britain’s Role in It
28th April 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Following the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan in August 2021, the information about what is happening on the ground has been limited. It appears however, that the Taliban’s commitment to human rights has been minimal, with women having remained particularly at risk. At the same time, the West is struggling to offer realistic solutions to improve the future of the country. What is exactly happening on Afghanistan’s ground? How worried should we be of Afghanistan as a site for future jihadi threats? Should we start discussions to recognise the Taliban? And given its prior involvement, what role, if any, should Britain play in the country?
To discuss these issues, The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to gather a panel of world experts who will be exploring the consequences of Western withdrawal from Afghanistan and what can be done to prevent the country from becoming a hotbed for terrorism.
Naheed Farid is an Afghanistan Parliamentarian in-exile, Chairperson of House Standing Committee for Women Affairs, A Professional Specialist at Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and Advisory Board Member of US-Afghanistan Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council (DPPC).
She is a human rights advocate, the youngest-ever elected politician and lawmaker in Afghanistan, a George Washington University Alumni, Forbes Magazine Awardee, a Model Citizen of Grassroot Diplomat Magazine and an Italian Distinctive Brave-Knight Medalist who has been featured in numerous platforms in the last decade.
Photo credit: https://www.ushmm.org/
Peter W. Galbraith served as the first US Ambassador to Croatia. His senior government positions include being Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Afghanistan in 2009 and a Cabinet Member in East Timor’s first Transitional Government in 2000-2001. He is the author of two critically acclaimed books on the Iraq War.
In 2009, Ambassador Galbraith was Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Afghanistan with the rank of Assistant Secretary General. In this role, he took over de facto management of the large UN mission, working to improve efficiency and morale in the Kabul headquarters and in the provincial offices. Galbraith represented the UN mission on the Contact Group and conducted top level negotiations with Pakistan that produced agreements on security and economic cooperation. Ambassador Galbraith oversaw activities related to the UN funded 2009 Afghanistan presidential elections and tried unsuccessfully to prevent the massive fraud in those elections. The ensuing controversy led to Galbraith’s departure from Afghanistan and the resignation of senior members of the UN Mission’s political staff.
Since 2013, Ambassador Galbraith has engaged in mediation projects involving the Syrian Kurds, the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, and the Syrian opposition. In this connection, he has made more than 20 trips to Northeast Syria. At the request of the Syrian Kurdish Administration, he has been working to find a solution for the 8,000 foreign (neither Syrian nor Iraqi) ISIS women and children currently detained in Northeast Syria. He has personally extracted three German children, an American orphan, a Canadian orphan and two mothers from Kurdish run prison camps and brought them to safety in Iraqi Kurdistan. He also arranged the rescue of American orphan, Amina Bradley, who had been kidnapped and hidden by radical ISIS women. In 2021, Galbraith brought 24 children out of Syria and reunited them with their Yazidi mothers in Iraq. The New York Times and Guardian covered Galbraith’s successful negotiation on behalf of the Yazidi mothers in page 1 stories while Buzzfeed News featured Galbraith’s role in the rescue of Amina Bradley. From 1979 to 1993, Galbraith was a senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with major responsibilities for the Near East and South Asia, international organizations, and the Foreign Relations Authorization legislation.
Galbraith is the author of published Foreign Relations Committee reports on ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Iran-Iraq War, the Iraqi Kurds, US-India relations, Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia, and the Cambodian famine. In the late 1980s, Galbraith exposed Saddam Hussein’s “al-anfal” campaign against the Iraqi Kurds. He documented Iraqi chemical weapons attacks on Kurdish villagers and the depopulation of rural Kurdistan in reports published by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 1988, the US Senate unanimously passed legislation that Galbraith wrote to impose sanctions on Iraq for what the legislation termed the genocide against the Kurds. During the 1991 uprising, Galbraith travelled throughout rebel-held northern Iraq, narrowly escaping across the Tigris as Iraqi forces recaptured the area. His written and televised accounts provided early warning of the catastrophe overtaking the civilian population and contributed to the decision to create a safe haven in northern Iraq. In 1992, Galbraith brought out of northern Iraq 14 tons of captured Iraqi secret police documents detailing the atrocities against the Kurds. Galbraith’s work in Iraqi Kurdistan is chronicled in Samantha Power’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (Basic Books, 2002), and was the subject of a 1992 ABC Nightline documentary and a 2008 CNN documentary. Galbraith is the author of the best selling The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End (2006) and Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies (2008). He has written twelve widely discussed articles on Iraq for the New York Review of Books and is a regular contributor on the Middle East and South Asia to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Guardian, Time magazine, the Boston Globe, among others. In April 2003, he was an ABC news consultant arriving in Baghdad four days after the first American troops. Galbraith was a member of the U.S. delegation to the 35th United Nations General Assembly (1980) and the 10th and 11th United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Governing Councils. He also served as a senior legal advisor to UNEP helping draft treaties on biological diversity and environmental impact assessment. He has received awards for his work to protect the international environment and to promote international educational exchange.
Galbraith has been a Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College in Washington, DC. After leaving government in 2003, he set up the Windham Resources Group, which provided negotiating and strategic services to governmental and corporate clients. Peter Galbraith was elected to the Vermont Senate from Windham County in 2010 and re-elected to a second term in 2012. He served on the Finance and Natural Resource Committees and authored legislation that made Vermont the first state in the country to ban fracking. He led the effort to ban corporate campaign contributions and proposed a financing plan for Vermont’s single payer health care system. In 2016, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Pakistan decorated Galbraith with its high civilian award, the Sitari-i-Quad-i-Azam, in recognition of his work to promote human rights and the restoration of democracy in that country. In her autobiography, Daughter of Destiny, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto credits Galbraith’s with securing her freedom in 1984 following three years imprisonment. Ambassador Galbraith holds an A.B. from Harvard College, an M.A. from Oxford University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He is an honorary fellow at St Catherine’s College, Oxford University and Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Kurdistan.
From 2017-2018, David Loyn worked as Strategic Communications adviser in the office of the Afghan President. He worked for the BBC until 2015, after a 37-year career as a foreign correspondent. His last post was as correspondent in Afghanistan, a country he has been visiting since 1994, including several trips during Taliban control. He has also lived as BBC correspondent in Delhi, and from 2001-2013 was International Development Correspondent, travelling frequently to Asia and Africa. Apart from Afghanistan he has covered conflict in Iraq, Libya, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Congo, Northern Uganda, Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Northern Ireland.
David Loyn holds an MA degree in Modern History from Oxford University, and is a qualified barrister. He has won awards in both Radio and Television reporting, including Journalist of the Year from the Royal Television Society for his reporting of the Kosovo conflict. He is a member of an advisory panel to the Foreign Office on South Asia policy, and a lecturer at the Diplomatic Academy. He joined the War Studies Department at King’s in September 2016.
Helena Ivanov is a PhD Candidate in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on the relationship between propaganda and violence against civilians. In her thesis, Helena examined the role propaganda played during the Yugoslav Wars and produced a model for studying propaganda which details the key phases, functions, discourses, and techniques of propaganda (the model itself is applicable to other contexts). Additionally, Helena also served as a Manager at the Centre for International Studies at the LSE.
Prior to her PhD, Helena completed an MPhil in Political Theory at the University of Oxford, and holds a BA in Politics from the University of Belgrade.
On the 28th of April Helena Ivanov, Associate Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Ambassador (ret.) Peter Galbraith, former Deputy U.N. Envoy to Afghanistan, David Loyn, former Strategic Communications adviser to the Afghan President, and Naheed Farid MP, a member of Afghanistan’s Parliament, discuss the policy Britain’s could take in its future relationship with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Helena Ivanov began the discussion by introducing the topic of the event and the speakers. Naheed Farid MP then spoke about her first experience with the Taliban and how women’s rights are currently being destroyed by the Taliban. She stated that the mismanaged peace process and Western withdrawal enabled the Taliban to seize power. She argued that Britain can still have a role in protecting human rights in Afghanistan. Amb (ret.) Galbraith discussed how the Najibullah regime lasted longer than the NATO backed government of Afghanistan, and the military failure this represents. He spoke of how NATO never had a reliable Afghan partner as the Karzai administration was corrupt and illegitimate. He argued that there needs to be accountability of NATO militaries. David Loyn discussed what Britain, and the broader international community are currently doing in Afghanistan. He spoke of how there is an impending humanitarian crisis being compounded by an economic collapse. He talked about how humanitarian aid groups and technical support missions are beginning to restart their operations to rebuild civil society.
The discussion then closed with a series of questions from the audience which were, has the Taliban changed its approach to governance, in the absence of conventional war what can be done to liberate Afghanistan, do you think the majority of Afghans did not want a Western social system, what is the future of Britain’s role in the country.
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