The Stream

Is Afghanistan being left to fend for itself?

On Wednesday, December 2 at 19:30 GMT:

Afghanistan’s security vacuum
Afghanistan is bracing for further security challenges following the US’s announcement that it will nearly halve its troop presence in the country.

The Pentagon says it will cut troops in Afghanistan from about 4,500 to 2,500 by the time President Donald Trump leaves office in January. That’s a departure from the advice of senior US military officials who have consistently advocated a more gradual exit from its Afghanistan responsibilities, which include training and assisting Afghan security forces as part of a Nato-led mission while leading a separate counterterrorism effort. Meanwhile, international donors are now pledging less aid to the country – as well as imposing strict conditions in order to receive it.

But as the US prepares to bring its troops home, civilians across Afghanistan are being killed with apparent impunity. There has been a sharp rise in targeted assaults against journalists, civil society activists and human rights workers this year. A report released in October by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says between January and the end of September there was a 39-percent rise in targeted attacks against civilians, compared with the same period in 2019. The UN says nearly 6,000 people were killed or wounded in attacks in the first nine months of 2020, as the central government and Taliban remain at odds.

We’ll look at what the expected exit of US troops means for civilians already living amid constant danger.

Peru’s political disarray
Activists are continuing to call for root-and-branch political change in Peru, following the ascent of Francisco Sagasti to the presidency. On November 17 Sagasti became Peru’s third president in the space of a week, following the impeachment of Martin Vizcarra by Congress and the resignation of Vizcarra’s successor Manuel Merino amid continuing street protests.

Sagasti is now focused on providing a semblance of political stability in the run-up to elections in April 2021. But people across Peru remain unhappy with Congress’ removal of Vizcarra. Many of those of who joined street protests against Vizcarra’s impeachment amid unproven corruption allegations consider his removal to be “a legislative coup”, and are now pushing for constitutional amendments.

We’ll look at the mood in Peru and what people are calling for amid the political tumult.

Memorialising the enslaved
Memorials to enslaved people are often placed in public squares and museums, giving people a ready opportunity to remember and respect those brutally exploited by traders. But a new proposal by marine experts suggests mapping the Atlantic as a profound new way to honour those killed and abused in the transatlantic trade of enslaved people.

Placing ‘virtual’ ribbons on maps of the Atlantic sea bed would memorialise Africans who died at sea during long voyages along transatlantic slave passages, a group of academics, researchers, and Michael Kanu, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, says in a report published in Marine Policy.

The co-authors conclude that the final resting places of African people brutalised by slavers during Atlantic crossings between the 1500s and late 1800s have “historical and contemporary cultural significance” in the present day. And they hope West African countries can soon present the report to the UN’s International Seabed Authority (ISA), which regulates mineral activity on international seabeds beyond national jurisdictions.

The report’s authors hope that pinning virtual ribbons to the ISA’s maps will add a powerful cultural dimension to charts that are more commonly used for economic and environmental decisions about deep-sea mining.

We’ll take a look at the proposals.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Orzala Nemat, @orzala
Research Associate, Center of International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS

Pao Ugaz, @larryportera

Michael Kanu, @PMSLUN
Deputy Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the  United Nations