PAST EVENT – The New Great Game: Afghanistan’s Taliban Takeover and its Implications for Europe and the Region
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) had the pleasure of organising a Discussion on “The New Great Game: Afghanistan’s Taliban Takeover and its Implications for Europe and the Region”. The discussion took place at EIAS (Rue de la Loi 26, 10th floor, B-1040 Brussels – Belgium) on Wednesday, 21 June 2023 from 10:00 to 12:00 and was followed by a networking lunch.
Date: Wednesday, 21 June 2023
Time: 10:00-12:00 followed by a networking lunch
Venue: EIAS Brussels
The New Great Game: Afghanistan’s Taliban Takeover and its Implications for Europe and the Region
On 15 August 2021 the Taliban overthrew the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan by taking control over Kabul and establishing the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The US, NATO and its allies withdrew their troops from Afghanistan after almost 20 years, while most foreign embassies relocated outside Afghanistan. The EU decided to remain engaged and re-established a presence in January 2022. Nearing two years since the Taliban takeover with little positive progress to report, Afghanistan has moved down the political agenda and donor fatigue has set in. At the same time concerns and fear of instability, terrorism and possible spill-over effects to the region remain.
Afghanistan has long been overly relying on external aid. In 2018 it was estimated to have drawn 40% of its GDP from international aid. Over the past 20 years also the EU has provided Afghanistan with more than 4 billion EUR in development aid, making it the largest beneficiary of development assistance in the world. After the takeover of the Taliban in 2021, the EU has continued funding humanitarian assistance and basic needs and livelihood support, while ending development assistance. European companies – given the fragile economic situation and absence of a clear legal framework – are not eager to invest. Other international actors like India, China, and Pakistan have been more willing to take the risk in trade and investments in the country despite the Taliban ruling. Afghanistan has rich reserves in mineral resources, rare earths and oil, while the development of the infrastructure required for their extraction needs massive investments that Afghanistan cannot provide itself, leaving a major untapped potential which might be filled by regional powers such as Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan.
Apart from internal and external opposition, the Taliban lack an effective governance system at the local level and the capacity to manage diversity and difference of opinion at the societal level, being unable to adapt their ideals to the modern nation state and its functions, as well as to become recognised internationally and obtain domestic legitimacy. Ultimately, the Taliban will need foreign economic support to sustain Afghanistan´s health, agriculture and education systems, local governance and other public sector programmes.
In this discussion round we examined what role the EU and its Member States are playing and could still play on the ground in Afghanistan and discussed how the EU and other international actors work together to improve the livelihood of the Afghan people and secure the future of the next generations in a sustainable way.
09:30 – 10:00 Registration
10:00 – 10:05 Welcome Remarks
- Denis Schrey, Head of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Multinational Development Policy Dialogue, Brussels
10:05 – 11:15 Moderated Panel discussion
Moderator: Lin Goethals, Director EIAS
- Dr Ellinor Zeino, Member of the German Bundestag Study Commission on Afghanistan and Director of the KAS Regional Programme for SOuthwest Asia (based in Tashkent, previously based in Kabul)
- Sulaiman Bin Shah, Founder and CEO of Catalysts Afghanistan and former Deputy Minister for Industry and Commerce of Afghanistan, Kabul
- Deren Derya, Head of Division for Afghanistan and Pakistan, European External Action Service
11:15 – 12:00 Interactive Q&A session with the audience
12:00 – 13:30 Networking Lunch
Photo Credits: Pixabay