Webinar: will the tragedy of Afghanistan become Europe’s tragedy?

If peace negotiations collapse and the Taliban take power in Afghanistan, the UK and Europe may well be faced again with another wave of mass migration (are we really going to turn away women and their families at deadly risk from the Taliban?), a strengthened base for the export of terrorism (Taliban have not broken links with Al Qaeda, CIA reckons even US at risk again within three years) and continued supply of opium to European youth from the largest producer in the world.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, a figure well-known in the UK who is the Afghan Government’s chief negotiator for the intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban and former Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2014-2020) will be addressing UK Liberal Democrats on the latest state of play 18.30-20.00hrs this Monday 7th June. You are encouraged to register for this LIBG/Lib Dems Overseas event at the Paddy Ashdown Forum.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah will be joined by members of the Afghan Civic Democrats, a parliamentary grouping in the Wolesi Jirga (lower house), with whom Lib Dems Overseas have a strong association, as well as the Head of Office from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, direct from Kandahar/Helmand province. The Lib Dems response will be given by Baroness Northover, our Foreign Affairs spokesperson in the Lords.

The situation is quite dramatic. After being unable to defeat the Taliban militarily, the Trump administration forced the Afghan government and gave significant concessions to the Taliban to bring both parties to the negotiating table in Doha in 2020. President Biden has not altered Trump’s decision to pull out and has continued the US withdrawal with a slightly delayed deadline by 11 September 2021 (and likely to be concluded faster). Its departure means that British and other NATO contingents are also leaving the country. Attempts to find a solution has intensified with Dr Abdullah leading the government negotiations team at Doha, at the Moscow conference and travelling the region to seek peace, with the hope for another attempt at a solution in Istanbul.

Yet the pressure is on, fighting is intensifying with a rising death toll every day. Women and other civil society activists are also being assassinated. The “Great Game”; with high stakes is back with many regional players also involved. The Taliban is gaining ground on the battlefield, and want more of their fighters released from prison to keep them at the negotiating table. Can 20 years of gains in building civil society, human rights and democracy, be saved? Are chances diminishing for the intra-Afghan talks to end the war and bring a sustainable peace?

Join us at the webinar.

* George Cunningham is Chair, Federal International Relations Subcommittee on China and a former Deputy Head of China Division, European External Action Service, Brussels. He is also the Chair of Lib Dems Overseas.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and Events.


  • Very few Afghan refugees make it to the UK and Europe. It is much further than Syria. The majority of Afghan refugees (95%) are located in Iran and Pakistan. Ethnic minorities, like Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, may get to India.
    It is primarily Iran and Pakistan that will be impacted by another wave of mass migration and it is these neighbouring countries that have the greatest stake in seeing a return of stable government to Afghanistan.

  • George Cunningham 6th Jun '21 - 9:19am

    Thanks for your comment, Joe. The second largest flow of irregular migration into Europe in recent years, after Syrian refugees, have been Afghans. Pakistan and Iran are full. Pakistan even had a policy of returning them. Many are held up in Turkey as a safe haven due to the agreement with the EU. The issue is that there is no nowhere safe in Afghanistan. The Taliban have stated that their emirate will subject women to their harsh interpretation of Islamic law. What is the UK’s moral position if the Taliban win back control?

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