Event Details

Since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan on August 15, the country has descended into economic and humanitarian catastrophe. Law and order has broken down, crime is rampant. As winter approaches, starvation is stalking people who have no jobs and no money. The new rulers of the country face countless challenges they appear unable to meet. Their own internal factional struggles combined with a growing resistance as former military combine forces with the local ISIS franchise are raising fears that current levels of violence could explode into civil war.

In the fourth in our series Afghanistan 20 Years On, we have gathered together a panel of experts to address the reality of the Taliban's Afghanistan, what is happening and why, how long it can last. And, if it implodes, what might come next.


  • Lynne O'Donnell (MODERATOR: Journalist and Author)

    Lynne O'Donnell

    MODERATOR: Journalist and Author

    Lynne O’Donnell is an Australian journalist, author and analyst. Between 2009 and 2017, she was bureau chief in Kabul for The Associated Press and the French news agency AFP. She now writes for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, Tortoise Media, the South China Morning Post. She holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College London, where she is a research fellow of the war studies department and a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.

    Her first book, High Tea in Mosul: The True Story of Two Englishwomen in War-torn Iraq was published in 2007, and her next book, From the Frontline: Women Reporting War 1899 – 2020 will be published in late 2022. Lynne is a fellow of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma at the Graduate School of Journalism, at Columbia University in New York, and regularly contributes research to think tanks and multilateral organisations, focused on Afghanistan.

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  • Shaharzad Akbar (Chairperson at Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission)

    Shaharzad Akbar

    Chairperson at Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

    Shaharzad Akbar is currently the Chairperson for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She was previously Deputy on the National Security Council for Peace and Civilian Protection. Shaharzad also worked as Senior Advisor to the Afghan President on High Development Councils (August 2017-August 2018) coordinating the prioritization of development projects and programs for high level decision-making. Prior to this, Shaharzad was Country Director for Open Society Afghanistan (Sep 2014-July 2017).Shaharzad completed her MPhil at Oxford University as a Weidenfeld scholar in 2011 after she obtained her BA (cum laude) in anthropology from Smith College in the U.S. Shaharzad’s writing has appeared in international and Afghan media including Washington Post, Newsweek and Al Jazeera, CNN, and academic journals.

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  • Chris Alexander (Former Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan)

    Chris Alexander

    Former Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan

    Christopher Alexander is a former diplomat and former Conservative Party of Canada politician. He served as Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 2013 to 2015. He represented the riding of Ajax—Pickering, in Ontario, in the House of Commons of Canada from 2011 to 2015.

    Alexander spent 18 years in the Canadian Foreign Service, and served as Canada's first resident Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. Following this he served as a Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan until 2009. After winning his seat in the 2011 election, Alexander was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence. On July 15, 2013, he was appointed Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

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  • Tamim Asey (Former Deputy Minister of Defence)

    Tamim Asey

    Former Deputy Minister of Defence

    Tamim Asey is the Executive Chairman of The Institute of War and Peace Studies (IWPS) and Council on Foreign Relations of Afghanistan (CFRA). Both professional, non-government and non-partisan national security and foreign policy think tanks based in Kabul.

    He is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) in London and the former Deputy Minister for Policy and Strategy at the Ministry of Defense of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He previously served as the Director General of International Relations and Regional Security Cooperation at the Office of National Security Council (ONSC) of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He also served as the Director General for Policy and Strategy at ONSC.

    He is a fellow at Asia Society and was a Fulbright scholar at Columbia University. Mr. Asey also taught at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). He is a prolific writer and regular contributor to Atlantic Council South Asia, Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, Eurasia Review among others and appears regularly on national and international media including BBC World, CNN, Al Jazeera and other to discuss political and economic developments in Afghanistan, Central and South Asia.

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  • C. Christine Fair (Professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University)

    C. Christine Fair

    Professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University

    C. Christine Fair is a Professor in the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She previously served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, a political officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and a senior research associate at USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. She has served as a Senior Fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, a Senior Resident Fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis (New Delhi) and will take up a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship in the spring of 2017. Her research focuses on political and military affairs in South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka). Her most recent book is In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Oxford University Press, 2019). Previous books include: Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press), Pakistan’s Enduring Challenges (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), Policing Insurgencies: Cops as Counterinsurgents (Oxford University Press, 2014); Political Islam and Governance in Bangladesh (Routledge, 2010); Treading on Hallowed Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces (Oxford University Press, 2008); The Madrassah Challenge: Militancy and Religious Education in Pakistan (USIP, 2008), and The Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States (Globe Pequot, 2008), among others. Her current book project is Militant Piety and Lines of Control, in production with Oxford University Press. Dr. Fair is a frequent commentator in print (New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The National Review among others) as well on television and radio programs (CBS, BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, Voice of America, Fox, Reuters, BBC, NPR, among others).

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  • Major General (Retd) Charlie Herbert (Security Sector Reform Consultant)

    Major General (Retd) Charlie Herbert

    Security Sector Reform Consultant

    Charlie spent 30 years as an infantry officer with the British Army, undertaking multiple operational tours in Northern Ireland, Central America, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has significant experience in capacity building and development of partner forces. His Afghanistan experience includes tours in Kandahar (2007), Helmand (2010) and Kabul (2017-18) working as an embedded advisor with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, and the senior NATO advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Interior. He currently works as a security sector reform consultant in Somalia.

    For several years Charlie has advocated for the relocation of former Afghan interpreters to the UK. He was deeply critical of the UK’s handling of the Kabul evacuation and continues to support the safe relocation of interpreters and local staff from Afghanistan.

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  • Nader Nadery (Former Chairperson at Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission)

    Nader Nadery

    Former Chairperson at Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission

    Mr. Nadery was chairman of independent Civil Service Commission of Afghanistan. Prior to joining the Commission he was Senior advisor to the President on Public and Strategic Affairs. He was also presidential envoy for protection of freedom of expression.
    Mr. Nadery served as director of Afghanistan Research and Evaluation AREU For three years. AREU is AFGHANISTAN’s globally ranked research institute. He is also the founder and was chairman of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan. He served for 7 years as Commissioner of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Mr. Nadery was also chairman of board of directors of Open Society Foundation-Afghanistan. He represented Afghan youth at the main UN peace talks for Afghanistan in the Bonn Conference in 2001, where the Post-Taliban interim government was formed.
    Prior to his appointment at the AIHRC Mr. Nadery served as the director of Afghanistan programs of Global Rights. He also served as the Spokesperson for the Emergency Loya Jerga (Grand Assembly) that elected head of transitional government in 2002. During this time Mr. Nadery was also elected as a delegate for the ELJ and served as representative of civil society. Mr. Nadery co-founded Afghan Civil Society Forum, and foundation for civil society and culture.
    He has written extensively on politics, human rights, women rights and democracy in Afghanistan. Mr. Nadery thought constitutional law at the American University of Afghanistan in 2012. Rooted in his family ( parents) tradition as elders, He also is experienced in community based dispute resolution. He also served as member of Global Agenda Council on Fragile States of World Economic Forum. Mr. Nadery served as chief of mission for No Peace without Justice Support missions in Libya for two years after the 2012 revolution there. He is also a member of Board of Editors of the International Journal on Transitional Justice and appears regularly on BBC, New York Times, Washington Post and other national and international media. In 2005 Mr. Nadery was recognised as an "Asian Hero" by Time Magazine and named as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008.

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  • Waliullah Rahmani (Director of Khabarnama Media)

    Waliullah Rahmani

    Director of Khabarnama Media

    Waliullah Rahmani is founding director of Khabarnama Media, the first digital media organisation in Afghanistan. As part of his activity, through Khabarnama Media, Mr. Rahmani also publishes subscription-based Brevity letters which is a credible source of insights on Afghanistan for various international organisations and leading experts on the south Asian region. He was also the founding director of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies. A former senior adviser to the Afghan government, he has worked extensively on terrorism, insurgency and Islamic movements in South Asia since 2006.

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  • Omar Sadr (Political Science Professor at American University of Afghanistan)

    Omar Sadr

    Political Science Professor at American University of Afghanistan

    Omar Sadr is Assistant Professor at American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), Kabul, Afghanistan. Previously, he worked at the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) and National Centre for Policy Research (NCPR), Kabul University. His primary research interests are in the intersection of culture and politics, democracy, multiculturalism. He earned a doctorate from South Asian University.

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