Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education


The LDESP distance learning courses have a list of recommended readings on Pakistan and Afghanistan. The books, publications, journal articles and television interview of the scholars and practoners profiled below, serve as additional resources:


Dr. Whitney Azoy: Dr. Whitney Azoy is a cultural anthropologist who lives and works in Kabul. His book Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan (1982) was the first full-scale anthropological examination of a single sport, and explored the traditional game in which riders on horseback drag a goat or calf carcass to some specified goal. He has also worked in Afghanistan as a diplomat, refugee relief worker, reconstruction consultant, poetry translator, Pulitzer nominee journalist, and National Geographic filmmaker.

Dr. Michael Rubin: Dr. Michael Rubin is a resident Scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, DC think tank. Formerly, he worked as a Pentagon official handling Iranian and Iraqi affairs, and as a lecturer at Yale University in the history of Afghanistan. Rubin has been a lecturer with LDESP since 2005. He has lived in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11, isited Syria in 2014, and is a frequent visitor to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan. Rubin’s most recent book, “Dancing with the Devil,” a history of American diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups, including Iran, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, and North Korea, was published in 2014.

gartenstein-rossDaveed Gartenstein-Ross, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, focuses his research on the challenges posed by violent non-state actors. Studies that he has authored examine the economic aspects of al Qaeda’s military strategy; the radicalization process for jihadi terrorists; and theaters of conflict that are important to the future of the “global war on terror,” including the Horn of Africa. He is the author or volume editor of eleven books and monographs, including Bin Laden’s Legacy (Wiley, 2011), and has published widely in the popular and academic press, including in Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Reader’s Digest, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, The Yale Journal of International Affairs, and German political science journal Der Bürger im Staat. Gartenstein-Ross is a Ph.D. candidate in world politics at the Catholic University of America, where he received a M.A. in the same subject. He earned a J.D., magna cum laude, from the New York University School of Law, and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Wake Forest University. He is a Senior Fellow at George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute, and was a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute in 2007. He can conduct research in five languages, including Arabic.


Qahir Mr Kiomars Qahir: Mr Qahir has a Master of Business Administration from Williamette University , Atkinson Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Art Journalism from Kabul University Faculty of Journalism. Mr Qahir has worked in different capacities with the Afghan Government, Afghan Parliament and international donor agencies in Afghanistan. He played an important role in drafting Afghanistan’ National Development Strategy (ANDS) and worked as the donor representative to Afghan Ministries of Finance, Commerce, and Counternarcotics. Mr. Qahir initiated communication platforms between Afghan civil society and the lower and upper houses of Parliament. He implemented the historic First Afghan Women’s Council project in Kabul. Mr. Qahir currently works as culture and language advisor at the Joint Base Lewis and McCord in Washington. He is a Fulbright Scholar and he speaks five languages.

Mr. Ahmad K. Majidyar:  Ahmad Majjidyar studies political and security affairs in South Asia and the Middle East, with a special focus on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. He also travels frequently to military bases across the United States to instruct senior U.S. Army and Marine officers about culture, religion, and domestic politics in Afghanistan, and about terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Before joining AEI in 2008, Mr. Majidyar worked as a media analyst with BBC Monitoring in Kabul, and served as an aid worker with the United Nations agency for refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan. He is fluent in Dari (Persian), Pashto, and Urdu.


unruhDr. Jon Unruh is a Professor of Geography at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. His research, applied and policy work over the past 20 years has focused on the human geography of war affected countries. His specialty is the recovery of war-affected land and property rights systems. His past work has dealt with Islamic, traditional, legal and warlord approaches to land rights in war-torn scenarios. His experience includes work in war-affected countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, and he has worked with the United Nations and a variety of governments to rebuild land and property rights systems after war.


Murtazashvili Dr. Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili is an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. She is writing a book on the role of customary and village governance in the state-building process in Afghanistan for which she conducted interviews and focus groups in more than 30 Afghan villages across six provinces over the span of two years.  In the policy world, she has managed U.S. Government democracy assistance for the United States Agency of International Development in Uzbekistan and drafted legislative materials for the new Afghan Parliament as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program in Kabul.
arsalanHamid Arsalan: Hamid Arsalan is a program officer for Middle East & North Africa program at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC where he design and implement interventions, manages portfolios and oversee the democracy assistance programs in Afghanistan. Mr. Arsalan sits on numerous boards including the Foundation for Afghanistan and Asia University-Herat. He is a frequent contributor to Voice of America talk-shows and also impacts critical U.S foreign policy matters through his writing. His work has been featured in Foreign Policy, Democracy Digest, and Afghan Analytica. Mr. Arsalan was born in Afghanistan and lived there until 2006 when he moved to the U.S. to complete his education. He is fluent in English, Dari, and Pashto, and proficient in Urdu and Arabic.

poulladaMr. Phillip Poullada Born in Kabul, Afghanistan to American parents, Mr. Poullada has been travelling extensively ever since. He has lived in a number of countries including Afghanistan in the late 1960s. He has visited many others, both on business and to explore. He has served as an NGO advisor in Afghanistan on four different missions, most recently in 2011 working with Afghan NGOs running seminars on Governance out in the provinces. He has also worked in Afghanistan as a private contractor leader for a U.S. Government research and analysis team.


Alec Metz: metzAs a Research Fellow with the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies, Mr. Metz conducts anthropological and cultural research on tribal and clan networks in Afghanistan. He analyzes Taliban propaganda and actions, as well as the government’s countermeasures. Mr. Metz has also significantly contributed to the program’s study of opium cultivation and its impact on security in Afghanistan. Mr. Metz earned his B.A. in South Asian History at Lewis & Clark College. He served two years in the U.S. Peace Corps as a volunteer in Mongolia. He subsequently earned a M.A. in Security and Development, with a Central Asian focus, at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, receiving a Freeman Foundation scholarship while there. Additionally, he was awarded a Center for East Asian Studies research grant, to study immigration in Mongolia. Mr. Metz has extensive travel experience including a study abroad in India and research in Mongolia, China, and Southeast Asia. He speaks French and Mongolian well, Russian and Hindustani not so well. Currently he is studying Dari. His research interests include Afghanistan, and Central and East Asian security and development.

callahanDr. Ted Callahan is a specialist in Central Asia and Afghanistan. He earned his doctoate in anthropology at Boston University,. His PhD dissertation, “To Rule the Roof of the World: Power and Patronage in Afghan Kyrgyz Society,” is a study of the intersection of tribal politics, patronage networks, and the post- Taliban Afghan state. Thomas Barfield is his thesis adviser. For his dissertation, Ted spent more than 18 months (between 2006-10) conducting fieldwork in northern Afghanistan, primarily in the Pamir Mountains of Badakhshan province, where he lived among a community of Kyrgyz nomads at 14,000 feet. He has also spent time in Kunduz, Baghlan and Kabul provinces. During his fieldwork, Ted worked for two different NGOs: the Central Asia Institute and the Wildlife Conservation Society. From 2006-07, Ted lived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Social Research Center of the American University—Central Asia.  Ted also spent six months (April-October 2009) in southeastern Afghanistan (Paktia, Paktika, and Khost) working as an operational advisor to the U.S. Army (4/25 BCT) as part of TRADOC’s Human Terrain System. He primarily focused on the Pashtun tribal system (especially the Zadran and Waziri sub-tribes), the Haqqani Network, and village-level economic and political dynamics in the border regions.


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