For the Taliban, it seems that defeating the Afghan military and overthrowing the elected government as U.S. troops departed was the easy part. Now, the insurgency faces the daunting challenge of governing a weak and divided country. Their failure to provide basic services like health, education and a functioning economy is already causing a growing humanitarian disaster — one that will only worsen as winter approaches. The politics of the takeover are daunting too: Rival factions within the Taliban are competing for influence in the new government while non-Pashtun ethnic groups, women and skilled officials from the former government are left out.

The consequences of a Taliban failure to govern are far reaching. Afghans could see mass starvation over the winter if economic conditions do not improve. Meanwhile, new terrorist safe havens are likely to emerge and the movement of refugees, terrorists and narcotics from Afghanistan will threaten regional security. 

With so much at stake, USIP held a discussion with Afghanistan experts on the current political, economic and human rights situation in Afghanistan. The conversation looked at how the Taliban are likely to respond to internal and external pressure to govern more inclusively as conditions inside Afghanistan worsen, as well as what the United States and the region can do to avoid the worst consequences of failed governance and mitigate a looming disaster. 

Take part in the conversation on Twitter with #AfghanistanUSIP.


Andrew Wilder, welcoming remarks
Vice President, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

Stephen Brooking
Former Peace Process Special Advisor, U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

Naheed Farid 
Chairperson of House Standing Committee for Human Rights, Civil Society and Women Affairs

Lotfullah Najafizada
Director, TOLO News

Scott Worden, moderator
Director, Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace

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