The Future of Afghanistan and the Regional Impact Ahead20 May 21
On Wednesday, May 20th, the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted a dynamic panel featuring discussion on The Future of Afghanistan and the Regional Impact Ahead. The event featured three expert panelists: H.E. Annie Pforzheimer, Former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Afghanistan, H.E. James Warlick, former U.S. Ambassador and Former Special Envoy and U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, and H.E. Huseyin Avni Botsali, former Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Envoy in Afghanistan.
H.E. Pforzheimer led the discussion by providing her insights on the current situation in Afghanistan, including the recent announcement of U.S. and NATO troop withdrawal and why this announcement is relevant and challenging in today’s international context. H.E. Pforzheimer also discussed the implications of the troop withdrawal on the U.S.’s Afghan partners, and what this could mean for future U.S.-Afghanistan relations. Additionally, she emphasized the need for the Taliban and the Afghan government to both engage in mutual discussion and make necessary concessions that are crucial to regional stability moving forward.
H.E. Botsali began his portion of the panel by explaining the difficulties encountered by the deconfliction of global powers, drawing parallels between historical examples and the current situation in Afghanistan. H.E. Botsali discusses the possibility for Turkey and for other regional players to cooperate and build consensus, as well as the possibility for Afghanistan to take more ownership of the Afghan peace process moving forward. Additionally, he addressed the implications of the unrest in Afghanistan (and in the greater region as whole) on the Muslim world, emphasizing the need for engagement in Afghanistan from foreign powers that will still allow for some Afghan ownership in the process.
H.E. Warlick discussed the possible threats of Taliban influence in Afghanistan after a U.S. withdrawal, emphasizing the necessity to remain cautious. He addressed the foreign influences of Russia and China and the opportunity they might have to help build Afghanistan stability, as well as their possible motives and perceived threats in the region moving forward. Additionally, H.E. Warlick discussed the NATO component of the troop withdrawal, debating whether or not NATO Allies have a role to play in Afghanistan without a U.S. presence in the future.
During the Q&A portion of the panel, H.E. Pforzheimer answered questions regarding the reasons for U.S. engagement in Afghanistan 20 years ago, specifically the growing popularity in Afghanistan for a constitutional form of government and the U.S. opportunity to help establish a stable partnership with a country that would aid in counterterrorism interests. H.E. Botsali continued the Q&A discussion by shedding light on the emerging middle class in Afghanistan and how this might change public engagement in the future. H.E. Warlick brought the panel to a close by discussing the leadership within Afghanistan and the threat the Taliban still poses in the country.