Guarini Institute Presents "Taking Stock of Afghanistan"

On August 27, the Guarini Institute of Public Affairs hosted a panel on Clubhouse to discuss the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and the terrorist attack at the Kabul Airport by ISIS-K. The panel, entitled in Italian “Il Punto sull’Afghanistan,” was moderated by Guarini Institute Director Federigo Argentieri and Advisory Board member Costanza Hermanin, and featured the participation of the Honorable Emanuela Del Re (Special Envoy of the European Union for Sahel), General Vincenzo Camporini (former Italian Chief of Defense), and Guido Olimpio and Andrea Nicastro (journalists for leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera).

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Professor Argentieri started by comparing the lengthy attempts at state-building in Afghanistan by the Soviet Union (1979-1989) and the United States-NATO Alliance (2001-2021). He also discussed US President Joe Biden’s address to the nation following the August 26 ISIS-K bombing and defended his stance, given the circumstances of the withdrawal and the historical precedents.

Guido Olimpio addressed the reasons for NATO’s failures in Afghanistan (namely the fragile governance installed in the country) and the future of the Taliban-ISIS relationship, which, according to the journalist, might follow a pattern of containment/collaboration similar to the one witnessed in Syria in the ’80s.

Emanuela Del Re shifted the focus to the recent past and the difficult present of Afghans who worked with NATO forces on the ground, describing the threats they received from the Taliban during the civil conflict and the dangerous future that awaits them should they not be evacuated. Del Re then depicted the past efforts of Italian troops to improve Afghan society and create opportunities for locals, which might now be scrapped under the Taliban’s rule. Professor Hermanin also praised the efforts of the Italian troops and humanitarian organizations, and both she and General Camporini described the ongoing effort to evacuate Italians and Afghan colleagues.

The speakers agreed that there should and will be some form of collaboration between the Western world and the Taliban, especially regarding humanitarian aid and the prevention of the expansion of China and Russia. But they excluded the possibility that the newly installed Taliban Emirate someday would receive formal recognition. Furthermore, some speakers, such as General Camporini, expressed their disappointment at the lack of unity and coordination among European countries and between the European Union and the United States with regard to Afghanistan.

As the panel was approaching its conclusion, a number of audience members, as well as Professor Argentieri, took the floor to highlight the efforts to rescue and evacuate endangered cats and dogs by nongovernmental organizations like Kabul Small Animal Rescue (KSAR).

(Gabriele Maggi)