The STAP RP Project Team: Dr. Emma Hooper, Malaiz Daud, Gabriel Reyes Leguen, and Roberto Toscano


External interventions as well as regional and global rivalries continue to play out in various manifestations of the contemporary “Great Game”, in the territory that covers present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. The key change witnessed in the present decade has been the extent to which conflicts further afield are affecting regional dynamics, and which impact on both countries’ relations with their neighbours, as well as on those with the five key regional powers focused upon in this project.

The fundamental interests and goals of external players vis à vis the Afghan situation have not changed since 2011. However, their context has, inducing policy shifts that pertain to tactics rather than strategy. The question therefore arises as to what extent do these shifts allow us to imagine that “sources of tension” can be gradually transformed into “sources of détente” – or less ambitiously, as a possible “way forward”? Most, if not all, of the sources of tension  identified at the early stages of the STAP-RP remain as such, five years on, because their root causes – national rivalries, violence, poverty and weak governance in particular – have yet to be effectively tackled. In that sense, the strengthening and expansion of the writ of the state in both Afghanistan and Pakistan will be vital to ensuring domestic and regional stability.

Whilst the drivers of change are domestic, in contrast to 2011, the catalysts for upheaval are now extra-regional.

The – at times – tense relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan themselves remains critical too in this regard. Bound to one another, yet strongly disliking this inter-dependency, as of summer 2016 the potential for meaningful cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan seems significantly reduced, relative to a year earlier. None the less, like it or not, Pakistan is essential to solving the Afghanistan situation, in this complex relationship that is simultaneously based on an undeniable reality, but also founded on profound mutual misunderstandings, mistrust and lack of communication on the respective countries´ motivations vis à vis one another.

About the Author

Dr. Emma Hooper is Project Director and a founding member of the STAP RP project team, based in Madrid. She is a Senior Research Fellow
Associate at CIDOB. She is a specialist in South Asia and the Middle East, with a degree in Middle Eastern History from the School of Oriental
& African Studies, London, and a PhD from the London School of Economics. She has worked as an Independent Consultant for the World
Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the UN, the OECD and bilateral government aid programmes, including in the areas of governance, socioeconomic development and poverty reduction. She has taught business strategy at EADA business school in Barcelona; and teaches courses on international relations at the Instituto de Empresas, Madrid. She has lived in seven countries on four continents, including Kuwait, Lebanon, and Pakistan, where she was based full time from 2004-2008.

Malaiz Daud is an Afghan political analyst with an M.A. in Post-War Recovery from the University of York, former Chevening and OSI scholar
and a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) fellow. He is a member of the STAP RP project team, and a Research Associate of CIDOB. An organizer of Afghanistan’s Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2004 and the Kabul Conference in 2010, he has also headed the Afghan Development Association (ADA) and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in Afghanistan. A founding member of the Afghan Youth Foundation for Unity (AYFU) and Young Leaders Forum (YLF); formerly an elected member of the Steering Committee of Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR); a member of Board of Directors of Human Rights Research; the Advocacy Consortium (HRRAC); the Afghan Civil Society Forum (ACSF) and the Peace Training and Research Organization (PTRO). He is currently pursuing a PhD on the nonviolent Khudai Khidmatgar Movement of Pashtuns from the Free University of Berlin with funding from the Berghof Foundation.

Gabriel Reyes Legüen is a member of the STAP RP project team, and an Associate Research Fellow of CIDOB: He is Director of Project
Development at the Toledo Institute for Peace (CITpax) and holds degrees from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas (BA Law, Madrid), Cardiff Law School, and King’s College London (MA International Peace and Security). He was Adviser on Foreign Policy in the Spanish Prime Minister’s Office and has held a number of positions at CITpax in the Conflict Prevention and Resolution; and the Middle East and Mediterranean Programmes. Prior to joining CITpax, he worked as a researcher at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS, London), the Political Committee of NATO Parliamentary Assembly (Brussels) as well as the Club of Madrid.

Ambassador Roberto Toscano is a member of the STAP RP project team, and a Senior Research Fellow Associate of CIDOB. He was former Ambassador of Italy to Iran (2003-2008) and India (2008-2010). A former head of the Research and Planning Unit in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; a graduate in Law from the University of Parma, with a Master’s in International Relations from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Washington. A former Fellow at the Center for International Affairs of Harvard University and Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, where he carried out a research study on Iran. He publishes regularly in Italy, the United States, Spain, France and India.