February 15 marks six months since the Taliban's takeover of Kabul. The changes over that time have fundamentally altered the U.S. approach to Afghanistan, although the goals of countering terrorism, maintaining regional stability and protecting Afghans' human rights remain. While violent conflict among armed groups has largely ended, Afghanistan's already struggling economy has deteriorated, and the Afghan people are facing an extraordinarily grave humanitarian crisis. The Taliban's "interim government" is widely viewed as insular and exclusive. It has restricted rights of girls and women, and it has at times turned a blind eye to abductions, beatings and, in some cases, the torture and killing of journalists, human rights activists and former civilian and military officials. 

Tom West was appointed the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan in October 2021, and tasked with advancing U.S. objectives in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces and the Taliban takeover. As part of his efforts, he engages in dialogue with representatives of the Taliban, regional leaders, the international community and Afghan political, civil society and diaspora members to find ways to assist the Afghan people while protecting U.S. national security interests.

On Februrary 15, USIP held a discussion with Special Representative West on the State Department's consultations with the Taliban, other Afghans and the international community as well as an overview of how the United States and others are supporting the Afghan people during this period of significant transition for the country. Following keynote remarks was a question and answer session, moderated by former USIP Board of Directors Chair and former U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley. 

Speakers

Thomas West 
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South And Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Stephen J. Hadley, moderator 
Former Chair, Board of Directors, U.S. Institute of Peace; Former U.S. National Security Advisor 

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