This new book, by Afghan academic Timor Shahran maps out how political networks and centers 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

Timor Shahran
Andrew Watkins

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See the full program for the Afghnaistan Week 2022 here.