The following Insight Reports were developed by the Middle East and North Africa team under the leadership of Dr. Aisha Ahmed (University of Toronto). These reports seek to provide insight into the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
Obaidullah Baheer, American University of Afghanistan
The international community has watched in horror as the Taliban roll out rigid and intolerant policies by the day. The current lack of engagement of the Taliban by the international community is not producing positive results. The international community has significant leverage over the Taliban, but has not created a mechanism to use that leverage to influence decision makers in the group and achieve better outcomes. This report attempts to chart such a path.
Humanitarian Aid Prolongs the Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan Allow the Afghan Economy to Breathe (PDF)
Mohsin Amin, Oregon State University
After the disastrous withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Talibans subsequent takeover of Kabul in August of 2021, Afghanistans economy was hit hard with sanctions by the United States. Afghanistans Central Bank assets were frozen and commercial banks were cut off from the international financial system. Development aid was suspended overnight which consequently deprived hundreds of thousands of people of their livelihood, now unable to access critical savings due to the liquidity crunch.
Ghizaal Haress, American University of Afghanistan
Following the seizure of power in August of 2021, in an effort to show the world that they are conforming to international standards of governance, the Taliban have reinstated the Constitution of 1964. Through this, the Taliban are trying to hide their tyrannical regime behind a constitutional façade. The Talibans arbitrary exercise of authority undermines rule of law, alongside other constitutional values and principles. Despite the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, recognition and aid should be provided to a legitimate and effective government in good standing within the international community, a set of criteria which the Taliban do not adequately satisfy.
Mudasir Islami, Karlstad University
In the past two decades, Afghanistan achieved monumental milestones in the education sector. However, developments in the education sector have been detrimentally impacted by dependence on donor funded projects. Progress within the education sector has suffered on several fronts, including in the areas of sustainability, quality, flexibility, and accountability. Aid dependency invariably shifted national priorities, as administrators focused on securing funds and appeasing international donors. Too often, they misallocated aid, sidelined the needs of society, and disincentivized local development projects.
With the Taliban takeover, the future of education in Afghanistan is uncertain. The Taliban view most of the progress made in the education sector under the US-backed governments as problematic and un-Islamic, and have vowed to change the education system to conform to Islam. Going forward, reforms in the education system should utilize local and national resources, be more focused on quality over quantity, and bring transparency and accountability. Canada could play a role, as a partner and not as a donor, in these efforts.
Omar Sharifi, American University of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has plunged into political and humanitarian crises concurrently since the Taliban seized power in August of 2021. News out of Afghanistan portrays developments in the opposite direction of where the rest of the world is going. The Taliban regime is employing increasingly strict measures on all aspects of Afghan society, whereas the international community has yet to orchestrate a strategy to effectively deal with this Islamist regime. This report gleans insights into the current situation in Afghanistan with some inferences for the way forward.
Ajmal Burhanzoi, University of Toronto
Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August of 2021, communication between the Taliban and the international community has been deeply fraught. On the one hand, the Taliban have sent mixed messages to the international community through confusing and often contradictory statements regarding their national and foreign policy. On the other hand, the international community has also reverted to reactionary measures and statements, in protest of the Talibans missteps.
At the core of this two-pronged state of confusion lies the fact that Taliban are suffering from internal rifts and power struggles that lead to mixed messages, which have subsequently confused international audiences. The international community has thus far incorrectly assumed that the Taliban is a monolith; however, in reality the group is an amalgamation of several factions that have significant differences of opinion on important issues. The international community therefore needs to understand the ongoing intra-Taliban struggle, and engage with Taliban from a position of international solidarity.
Zainab Hakimi, Qalam University in Kabul
Since their takeover in August 2021, the Taliban have re-enacted their discriminatory and harsh policies towards women from the 1990s, including depriving women of education and social, economic, and political opportunities. While the international community has prioritized womens rights in its ongoing engagement of the Taliban regime, there are no guarantees that the Taliban will change their behavior and policies towards women. Therefore, the international community needs to devise a long-term strategy to ensure and protect womens rights under the current Taliban regime, in exchange for improved international relations, and possible eventual recognition. This report will discuss challenges women face along socio-political and economic lines in Afghanistan, especially under Taliban rule, and how to strengthen womens presence and participation.
International Recognition of the Taliban Regime and Current Political Situation of Afghanistan: Challenges and Solutions (PDF)
Zainab Hakimi, Qalam University in Kabul
The Taliban have established an authoritarian regime in Afghanistan that has no system of accountability. This is not acceptable to either Afghan society or the international community. This report will outline why and how the international community can use its leverage to effectively influence the Talibans behavior, prevent its misuse of power, and pave a path towards its international recognition.
Haroun Rahimi, American University of Afghanistan
Food insecurity is a critical issue facing Afghanistan today. Incentivizing farmers to dedicate more land to growing foodstuff during farming seasons as opposed to growing opium or exiting the agricultural sector could increase the local food availability at harvest time. This would reduce the need to import foodstuffs to address shortages, which can subsequently hurt farmers livelihoods. This latter issue is extremely important because more than half the Afghan population depends on farming for their livelihood.