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Welcome to #AFGPanel! Since our last panel, we’ve seen the #Taliban engage in & then withdraw from direct talks on prisoner exchanges w/#Afghanistan’s govt; the govt then began unilateral releases of prisoners in the past couple of days. 1/n
In the meantime, Afghan leaders @ashrafghani & @DrabdullahCE still haven’t been able to form an inclusive govt, the #Taliban continues to conduct attacks & the threat of a massive US aid reduction still hangs over the country. #AFGPanel 2/n
And on top of all that, the #COVID19 virus is continuing to spread globally and in #Afghanistan specifically there is concern about large numbers of Afghans returning from the heavily-hit #Iran (especially in Herat). #AFGPanel 3/n
For the next hour, I have the distinct honor of hosting a discussion on these issues with some amazing panelists. We’ll discuss #Afghanistan peace talks, #Taliban cohesion, & the impact of #COVID19, along w/answering your Qs. #AFGPanel 4/n
Our panelists, in order of tweeting appearance, are: @BRRubin of the Center on International Cooperation @nyuniversity, who published a great paper on #COVID19 & #Afghanistan recently in @ForeignPolicy. #AFGPanel 5/n…
.@ethrelkeld, Senior Fellow & Deputy Director, South Asia Program @stimsoncenter, who recently published a very helpful comparison of the US/#Taliban & US/#Afghanistan agreements in @lawfareblog. #AFGPanel 6/n…
& Andrew Watkins (@and_huh_what), Senior Analyst on #Afghanistan for @CrisisGroup, who just published a really insightful report on #Taliban cohesion & implications for peace talks via @USIP. #AFGPanel 7/n…
Before I turn it over to the panelists, here’s how we’ll be doing the discussion: each panelist will begin with an opening tweet thread—I’ll link to those in this thread. After their opening remarks, I’ll moderate a Q&A. #AFGPanel 8/n
PLEASE DM ME YOUR QUESTIONS so I can pose them to the panel in an ordered way. If you reply directly in this or the panelists’ threads, we may not respond. Also, please be civil & respectful in your Qs/comments. #AFGPanel 9/n
With that, I’ll ask @BRRubin to kick off the discussion with his opening thread! #AFGPanel 10/n
Many thanks for those thoughts & sobering remarks @BRRubin--certainly a call to action is in order & look forward to discussing in more detail the "how". I’d like to next ask @ethrelkeld to provide her opening thread. #AFGPanel 12/n
Many thanks to @ethrelkeld for those insightful comments! I’d like to next ask @and_huh_what to provide his opening thread. #AFGPanel 14/n
Many thanks for those thoughtful remarks @and_huh_what! #AFGPanel 16/n
I’d now like to open the Q&A portion of our discussion. We have a lot of great Qs that have come via DM over the past few days! I’ll post the Qs & link to the As in this thread. #AFGPanel 17/n
1st Q is for @ethrelkeld: In #Afghanistan there’s a new trend initiated by @FForotan where Afghans speak about their red lines for the return of the #Taliban. What do you think are the USG red lines regarding the TB & a peace settlement? #AFGPanel 18/n
2nd Q is for @BRRubin: How does #Afghanistan's longtime "youth bulge" play into the issues you noted WRT #COVID19? Do you see youth playing a particularly noteworthy political or social role in how AFG responds to the pandemic? #AFGPanel 19/n
3rd Q is for @and_huh_what: How can “microexamples” of cooperation between the #Taliban and #ANDSF be expanded? Or are these examples too local in nature to provide models for larger areas? #AFGPanel 20/n
4th Q is for @BRRubin: In your piece for FP you likened the possible effect of #COVID19 in the US on #Afghanistan to that of the disintegration of USSR. For how long can the US possibly try to make things work in AFG? Won't the pandemic make the US more impatient? #AFGPanel 21/n
5th Q is for @ethrelkeld: What is the best and most realistic compromise we can expect on the prisoner release issue? Or is compromise not an option at all? #AFGPanel 22/n
6th Q is for @and_huh_what: Even if the #Taliban is less fractured than many suggest, do you think there may be critical masses of more hardline TB-say, some battlefield CDRs-that will oppose peace talks & peace, & could part ways w/the TB and join #ISIS-K? #AFGPanel 23/n
7th Q is for @BRRubin: Are @US4AfghanPeace & the US misreading & underestimating @ashrafghani? Can they really pressure him enough to get what they want? #AFGPanel 24/n
8th Q is for @BRRubin: What is the best possible deal that can be reached between @ashrafghani & @DrabdullahCE? And in USG’s view, what does a good deal look like? #AFGPanel 25/n
9th Q is for @ethrelkeld: How do you read #Pakistan's behavior post 29 Feb? Does its relatively muted response to the deadlock coupled w/recognition of Ghani's 2nd term have to do w/a desire to be seen as not sabotaging the peace process? #AFGPanel 26/n
Last Q is for @and_huh_what: In what ways has the Doha deal strengthened the #Taliban's hand ahead of the Intra-Afghan dialogue? Can't the TB easily blame all violations on the govt while seizing the narrative of 'seriousness ' & 'commitment ' to its advantage? #AFGPanel 27/n
I can’t believe how fast that time went! This was a fascinating discussion & I *really* appreciate your attention & the time of our amazing panelists. Please join me in thanking @BRRubin @ethrelkeld & @and_huh_what for their insights! #AFGPanel 28/n
And my sincere apologies if we didn’t get to your Q—there was a long queue, which again reflects the excellence of our panel’s works and experience. #AFGPanel 29/n
With that, I’ll close the panel. Please take care of yourselves/others & stay healthy! #AFGPanel 30/30
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