August 15, 2022, marked the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Despite the end of armed conflict and the decrease in military violence within the country since the Taliban’s takeover, the overall picture in Afghanistan remains bleak. Although the economy is no longer in free fall, the country continues to deal with substantial economic and social challenges. On the one hand, the economy has shrunk by 20% to 30% over the last year, and poverty and hunger have deepened. Low humanitarian aid and mounting food prices fueled by the war in Ukraine further complicate Afghanistan’s economic predicament. On the other hand, the Taliban’s brand of governance has been marked by sustained attacks on human rights, ethnic persecutions, and the denial of universal access to social services. This is taking a heavy toll on Afghan society, especially women and minorities.
Against this backdrop, a worsening security environment, with the ongoing threat of terrorism and booming drug trade, adds another layer of complexity to the country’s current outlook. As the Taliban regime struggles to restore international financial relations and diplomatic ties, several donors seek to strike a balance between maintaining assistance and not overtly legitimizing (or strengthening) the new government. At the same time, a few major regional players are increasing their presence in the country, but many questions are still open to them over the form of such engagement with the rulers.
How can we assess the Emirate’s performance thus far? What is the state of the Afghan economy today? What is the condition of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country? Is Afghanistan becoming once again a safe haven for jihadi terrorism? How are regional actors engaging with the Taliban’s regime, and what are their main interests in the country? How can the international community continue to support efforts for an inclusive and stable Afghanistan? What can the international donors do to help Afghans tackle the current economic and humanitarian situation?
William Byrd | Senior Expert, Afghanistan, United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
Antonio Giustozzi | Research Fellow, Radicalization and International Terrorism, ISPI
Stefano Pontecorvo | Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan (2020-2021), NATO
Marta Serafini | Journalist, Corriere della Sera