SIU Talks | Afghanistan: A war of narratives

619-afghanistan conflict

September 01, 2021


All Campus

Knowledge Area

All Knowledge Areas

From SIU’s Paris campus, Myriam Benraad, a political scientist specializing in Middle East studies explains the power of the Taliban narrative in the Afghan war with a foreword by Peter Aguilar, Veteran Affairs Advisor and also a veteran of three years in Afghanistan in reflection on the terrorist attack of August, 26, 2021.

At SIU, we are intricately interwoven in the international landscape and are continuously involved in day-to-day occurrences both in terms of business news and the socioeconomic reality that surrounds us and how it affects our lives. We have therefore decided to launch SIU Talks. Led by renowned professionals in various sectors and by specialists in international geopolitics, these talks explore in-depth topics and provide further insight into different areas.

Afghanistan is a topic of extreme importance today and one that generates a high level of controversy and debate on a global level. In this edition of SIU Talks, we invited Myriam Benraad, a political scientist specializing in Middle East studies who recently joined the SIU Paris campus and who focuses mainly on transnational political violence and radical revolutionary movements to lead the talk. Peter Aguilar, Veterans Affairs Advisor and also a veteran for three years in Afghanistan, briefly joined the talk to provide a powerful reflection on the terrorist attack of August 26, 2021.

Aguilar enlightened us on the current political situation in Afghanistan, focusing mainly on unraveling the origin of this conflict and what has not been talked about in the last 20 years. He maintains that a more narrative approach to the problem was taken and revealed that the Afghan War, in reality, is more about a war of ideals and discourses than other factors.

Benraad expands upon the idea of a “war narrative” throughout the talk, stating that the goal of the war narrative of the Taliban was to create a “final and irresistible victory” of the Taliban. A war narrative is not simply a story about the war, but rather an existential and ideological vision. Throughout the discussion, Benraad highlights four main “war narratives” that she believes play the main role in the recent fall of Kabul in Afghanistan: the rapid fall of Kabul in mid-August of this year, the smooth and peaceful Kabul military and political takeover by the Taliban, the Afghan security forces resisting the Taliban assault until the end and the Taliban’s conquest of Kabul closing the long chapter of the Afghan War.

The power of the various war narratives has undoubtedly shaped the war in Afghanistan and will surely continue to surface as the effects of the Taliban takeover continue to unfold. We feel honored to have been able to explore such a complex topic with the expertise of Myriam Benraad and the intervention of Peter Aguilar.

Access the full SIU Talks Afghanistan video here