Possibilities in a Sea of Trouble: Afghanistan’s Past, Present and Future

 

Well over a year after the Taliban took power in Kabul, Afghans face a grim future. Although civilian losses have been reduced, international sanctions have worsened the economic and humanitarian crises, with 90 percent of households unable to secure themselves enough food.

In addition to their massively repressive practices towards women in particular, the Taliban have struggled to manage internal tensions, get their government into gear, fight internal armed threats, and have not gained international acceptance.

After two decades of the US-led intervention, and giant international investments and efforts to build a democratic state, secure basic human rights, develop Afghanistan and reduce poverty, Afghanistan is facing crisis at multiple fronts.

The need to understand the sources and potential ways out of the country’s predicaments is more urgent than ever.

  • What space is there for dialogue on women’s rights, political inclusion, justice?
  • How can the country’s humanitarian, environmental and protection crises be mitigated?
  • How does the Taliban’s governance structure work?
  • How does Afghanistan’s neighbors relate to the shifts in Afghan power?
  • How did the international intervention in Afghanistan impact global terror networks?

November 13th – 20th

Afghanistan Week 2022 – Knuter i krig og fred

12:00 – 16:00 CET, 15:30 – 23:30 AFT

I forbindelse med Afghanistan-uka åpner Trojo Orientalske tepper utstillingen ‘Knuter i krig og fred’ for å sette søkelyset på Afghanistans materielle kultur, på smykker, klær og, ikke minst, vevede og knyttede tepper. Gjennom de drøyt hundre årene utstillingen dekker, har afghanerne levd sine hverdagsliv uansett om landet har hatt fredelige forhold eller vært i krigstilstand. Gjenstandene de har laget, enten til eget bruk eller som del av livsoppholdet, har alle sine historier å fortelle, om ulike folkeslag, ulike epoker og ulike livsvilkår.

Arrangører er fotograf og skribent Rolf Larsen og Hege Jacobsen, innehaver av teppeforretningen Trojo Orientalske Tepper, i samarbeid med Afghanistanuken.
Søndag 13. november arrangeres utstillingsåpning i samarbeid med Afghanistan-uka. I tillegg til en omvisning i utstillingen vil det bli innledninger ved Liv Kjølseth, generalsekretær i Afghanistankomitéen om situasjonen i Afghanistan nå, og Samina Ansari, gründer og daglig leder av Avyanna Diplomacy som støtter handel i Midtøsten og Sør/Sentral Asia. Samina har nylig vært i Afghanistan og sett på muligheter for å gjenåpne afghanske markeder for eksport under det nye regimet.

Servering av afghansk te. Begrenset antall plasser.

Sted er Grini Mølle, et gammelt næringsbygg ved bredden av Lysakerelva mellom Røa og Eiksmarka.

Adresse: Grinidammen 10, 1359 Eiksmarka

Offentlig transport: T-bane 2 Østerås til Ekraveien, buss 32 til Røa, eller buss 140 til Grinidammen.

Utstillingen vil være åpen frem til 20 desember, og kan sees på Grini Mølle torsdag og fredag 13-15 og lørdag og søndag 12-16.

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November 14th

Taliban Land: Film Screening and Discussion with Filmmaker Nagieb Khaja

18:00 – 20:00 CET, 21:30 – 23:30 AFT
Vega Scene, sal 1

The Afghanistan Week will kick off with the showing of the documentary Taliban Land, following an on-stage discussion with journalist and film maker Nagieb Khaja.

After the transition of power in Afghanistan, as thousands of its citizens sought to escape, award winning Nagieb Khaja travels there to depict the politics primarily as a human being, and secondly as a journalist.

Taliban Land builds on Khaja’s documentaries about the West’s “war on terror”. Alongside his documentaries, he has written two critically acclaimed books, one about Afghanistan in 2011 and one about Syria in 2017.

As Khaja himself says in interviews, he is concerned with telling the truth through his films. Taliban Land is an attempt to cover war and conflict and at the same time inform his audiences about the truth of the situation, and how it is that it is experienced from afar.

Award-winning war correspondent, journalist, and author Nagieb Khaja, born in Copenhagen in 1979, has Afghan roots. He has covered the wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and Gaza. His documentary films have been aired by Al Jazeera, BBC, Guardian TV and Vice International. Nagieb Khaja is known for being one of the very few journalists worldwide who has gained access to leading faces within the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.

Moderator: Hasina Shirzad

Panel: Nagieb Khaja and Terje Watterdal

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November 15th

Trouble in Afghanistan, Trouble in the Neighbourhood?

09:00 – 10:00 CET, 12:30 – 13:30 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

The Taliban have now controlled Afghanistan for over a year, and the relationship between the new rulers and its neighbours are taking shape. The level of continuity in the relations between Afghanistan and its neighbours have been striking, as seen in the mounting tensions between the Taliban and its long-time supporter, Pakistan. Furthermore, global shifts – including Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and China’s steady rise – impacts both Afghanistan and the dynamics within its surrounding regions.

How did the tense neighbourly relations play into the 2021 endgame and Taliban’s military victory? How do Afghanistan’s neighbours relate to Afghanistan’s new rulers? Can distant powers contribute to aiding Afghans by working with the country’s neighbours?

Chair: Arne Strand

Panellists: Ilaria Carozza, Kristian Berg Harpviken, Andrew Watkins and Masood Karokhail

Registration: Click here

 

Religious Actors in Afghanistan: What is Their Role under Taliban Rule?

10:30 – 11:30 CET, 14:00 – 15:00 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

Through war and peace and shifting regimes mosques and religious institutions have played central roles in Afghan communities, providing space for worship and prayer, Islami education, and accommodating the needs of the population. Religious leaders are often expected to act as conflict mediators within their communities.

The role and significance of religious actors in Afghanistan has been disputed by Afghans and by the international community. Still, they are recipients of support economically and morally. In the current situation, after the Taliban takeover – what space is available for religious actors?

What role can religious leaders play? Earlier female religious leaders had an important role as educators and mediators in domestic cases – what is the situation now? And is there a potential for religious leaders as bridgebuilders and promoters of non-violence and peace?

Chair: Norunn Grande

Panellists: Hayauddin Tamkin, Nazifa Jalili and Kaja Borchgrevink

Registration: Click here

 

A Public Dialogue on Women Rights in Afghanistan: How to Engage, and at What Risk?

17:00 – 19:00 CET, 20:30 – 22:30 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

After the Taliban takeover women’s rights have dramatically worsened. Women are more and more invisible in public space. They are ordered to cover their faces, prohibited from travelling alone or taking taxis without a male companion and told not to leave home unless necessary.

Girls above the age of 12 are deprived of education and women are banned from most jobs in the public sector. The space for freedom of expression is constantly being restricted and civil society is subject to strict control.

At the same time, we see a persistent movement for women’s rights in Afghanistan and in the neighbouring country Iran, as a response to long term oppression and as an immediate reaction to violent attacks where women have been injured and killed.  The protests have spread rapidly through social media and resulted in demonstrations in many countries, led by human rights activists in the diaspora.

In this session we want to take a closer look at the latest development in the struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan and the region.

The session will be organized as a public dialogue, a method for exploratory conversation with space to share experiences, thoughts, and ideas without arguing. Rather than commenting on what others say, questions are encouraged. In this way, the conversation is dynamically developed with a facilitator who makes sure that everyone who wants gets time and space to share.

Facilitators: Norunn Grande and Hasina Shirzad

Participants on stage: Horia Mosadic, Nora Ingdal and Roxanne Sharpour

Link to Youtube streams from Afghanistan Week 2022: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDga4wZsksklqYmo4F0FGLSp97-rwjHGu

Registration: Click here

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November 16th

The 2001 Intervention in Afghanistan and the Current State of Terror in the World

09:00 – 10:00 CET, 12:30 – 13:30 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

Preventing Afghanistan from becoming the ground for new terror attacks against the US and its allies was the major justification for the intervention in 2001. During almost 20 years of international presence, the US, and its closest allies suffered no terror attacks planned or executed from Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s commitment to prevent new terror attacks from Afghan soil was key in the February 2020 Agreement between them and the US. Yet, as President Joe Biden made clear in his speech the day after the Taliban’s entry into Kabul last August, terror networks have ‘metastasized’ and now constitute an element in an ever-larger share of the worlds’ armed conflicts. Against this background, how are we do judge the intervention in Afghanistan, which signalled the onset of the War on Terror?

Chair: Kristian Berg Harpviken

Panellists: Anne Likuski, Nagieb Khaja and Andrew Watkins

Registration: Click here

 

Launch of Timor Sharan’s book: Inside Afghanistan: Political Networks, Informal Order, and State Disruption

10:30 – 11:30 CET, 14:00 – 15:00 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

This new book, by Afghan academic Timor Shahran maps out how political networks and centres of power, engaged in patronage, corruption, and illegality. Such networks effectively constituted the Afghan state and became an integral part of the of the U.S.-led military intervention and the internationally directed state building project.

Sharan argues that politics and statehood in Afghanistan, in particular over the last two decades, including the ultimate collapse of the government in August 2021, are best understood in terms of the dynamics of internal political networks, through which warlords and patronage networks came to capture and control key sectors within the state and the economy, including mining, banking, and illicit drugs as well as elections and other political processes.

Overall, the book offers a way to explain what it was that the international community as well as the Afghan elites in power, got so wrong, and how Afghanistan came full circle with the Taliban returning to power almost two decades after it was toppled in the US-led 2001 intervention.

Chair: Torunn Wimpelmann

Panel: Timor Shahran and Andrew Watkins

Registration: Click here

 

Norwegian Intelligence in Afghanistan: How Much Did They Know?

16:30 – 17:30 CET, 19:30 – 20:30 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

The Norwegian Godal Committee from 2017 stated that ”the support the Intelligence Service provided to the Special Forces through the National Intelligence Support Team (NIST) was the most comprehensive and resource-intensive part of the service’s involvement in Afghanistan.” The data feed into the targeted killings that were an integral part of the Western military operations.

Frank Bakke Jensen stated that Norway is not responsible for whether data collected by us is used for the killing of civilians. But several critics have contested this, arguing that some of intelligence proved weak, and that Norway has a legal responsibility under the Geneva Convention for how its intelligence was used for.

What lessons can we draw from this experience and apply to future intelligence operations? To what extent can we be sure that Norwegian armed forces and Western forces in general operate based on correct information in other conflict situations today?

Frode Kristoffersen will discuss his newly published book about intelligence, where they talk about specific missions they have been on, and about the dilemmas that intelligence officers face in the field. They explain what kind of people they are looking for, how they prioritize and what the Intelligence Service does to protect Norway from threats.

Chair: Laila Bokhari

Panellists: Cecilie Hellestveit, Frode Kristoffersen and Kristian Berg Harpviken

Registration: Click here

 

The Role of Norway and the International Community in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan

18:00 – 20:00 CET, 21:30 – 23:30 AFT
PRIO, HD

What are the prospects for a gradual normalization of the Taliban with the rest of the world? What is the current status, and what has been learnt from the experience of the year since the Taliban took power in Kabul? What are the opportunities for engaging with Afghanistan’s citizens – on anything from rule of law to economic development – while bypassing the Taliban regime?

Relationships between the Taliban and other countries have become complicated, but while many Western countries maintain strict sanctions and limit their engagement, many countries in the region are gradually rebuilding relations to the Afghanistan’s de-facto rulers. An increasingly conflictual geopolitical situation globally has its mirror image in the how various countries and regions relate to Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s rule violates most existent international norms. The violation of human rights, not the least women’s rights, the failure to deliver basic welfare, the dismantlement of education is extremely problematic. It also constitutes a paradox, in that it both implies increasing international resistance to work with the Taliban, and a mounting need for external assistance.

At the same time, what the Taliban took over was a highly aid-dependent country, and the human consequences of the military withdrawal – and the ensuing reductions in assistance – have been grave. Various countries are developing a variety of means for providing an impetus to Afghanistan’s civil society, its welfare sector and to its economy.

In this focal event for the 2022 Afghanistan Week, we will hear the reflections on the current state of affairs by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, followed by a panel.

 

Chair: Kristian Berg Harpviken

Introduction: Liv Kjølseth

Opening remarks: Anniken Huitfeldt

Panellists: Masood Karokhail, Shah Gul Rezaye, Roxanne Sharpour and Terje Watterdal

Closing remarks: H.E. Mr. Youssof Ghafoorzai

Registration: Click here

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November 17th

Taliban, Governance: Order and Justice under Afghanistan’s new Powerholders

09:00 – 10:00 CET, 12:30 – 13:30 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

How does the Taliban govern? After taking power in August 2021, the Taliban merged their own shadow government with remnants of the administration of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to establish an all-male led Islamic Emirate. They introduced a restrictive policy on gender, education, and human rights.

The new rulers displayed little willingness to create a more inclusive government or to give in to other demands that could eventually lead to a lifting of the international sanction regime.

In this panel will we explore the vision of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: We will discuss how they are organized, how they govern, how their justice sector operates, how they relate to ethnic and religious minorities, what their gender policy is and to what extent they see it as their responsibility to provide basic services to the Afghan population.

Chair: Arne Strand

Panellists: Andrew Watkins, Shah Gul Rezaye, Masood Karokhail and Torunn Wimpelmann

Registration: Click here

 

Responding to Needs in a Taliban-Controlled State: From Humanitarian Relief Towards More Sustainable Development?

10:30 – 11:30 CET, 14:00 – 15:00 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

This panel will take us back to the early autumn of 2021 and examine how the international donor community responded to the Taliban takeover, and how humanitarian assistance was rapidly scaled up to prevent the worst-case scenarios.

We will also look at the experiences of national and international NGOs who continued working in the rural communities, supporting basic services in health, education, and food security at a time where the international funding of the public sector in Afghanistan were cut off. How has the aid architecture developed over this last year? What opportunities, hurdles and gaps can be identified to moving from a humanitarian response to sustainable development?

Chair: Karim Merchant

Panellists: Horia Mosadiq, Roxanne Sharpour, Terje Watterdal and Arne Strand

Registration: Click here

 

En samtale med forfatter Åsne Seierstad

18:00 – 19:00 CET, 21:30 – 22:30 AFT
PRIO, Philosophers Hall

Afghanistankomiteens generalsekretær Liv Kjølseth i samtale med forfatter Åsne Seierstad om hennes nye bok ‘Afghanerne’.

Påmelding: Click here

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