Belfast-based peace experts joined leading analysts of the Taliban movement for a lunchtime discussion of latest research findings on the conflict in Afghanistan. Institute Director, Prof. Hastings Donnan welcomed Jirga participants to Belfast. They conducted a day long review of progress by the Afghanistan peace dialogue research team at the institute. They considered politics within the Taliban movement, including the way in which the demise of its original leader has opened the way to increased factionalism and expression of tribal identity. The social media analyst described the rapid expansion of Taliban access to social media and the Taliban on-line discourse about the conflict. In the lunchtime session, there was a lively discussion on possible relevance of the Northern Ireland peace process for efforts to end the Afghan armed conflict. Both cases suggest that the internal politics of the armed groups and the evolution of their thinking about the utility of violence may shape opportunities for peace.
Dr Michael Semple - Visiting Research Fellow, The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice