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Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan

Crisis Group Role

Graeme Smith is a senior consultant for Crisis Group’s Asia Program, focusing on Afghanistan. He assists in developing the research agenda and shaping the analysis and reporting on the Afghan conflict and its regional dimensions, as well as contributing to research projects on the humanitarian and economic consequences of the Taliban takeover.

Professional Background

Graeme Smith is an author and consultant with nine years of on-the-ground experience in Afghanistan since 2005. His recent clients included the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF) and the International Crisis Group (ICG). From 2015 to 2018, he served as a Political Affairs Officer for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, with responsibility for domestic politics. He previously worked as the Crisis Group country director in Afghanistan (2012-2015). His career as a journalist included more than a decade as a staff reporter for The Globe and Mail, which posted him in Moscow (2005), Kandahar (2006-2009), Delhi (2010) and Istanbul (2011). He taught politics at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. His awards include the Michener Award for public service granted annually by the governor general of Canada. He also won an Emmy Award in 2009, for a video series that recorded the opinions of Taliban fighters. His bestselling book, The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War In Afghanistan, was published in Canada (2013), the United States (2014) and France (2015). He co-wrote and presented a documentary, “Ghosts of Afghanistan”, which debuted in English, French and German in 2021.

Areas of Expertise

  • Taliban
  • Political economy
  • Conflict analysis
  • Informal trade


  • English
  • French
  • Dari

Select Publications

The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War In Afghanistan

In The News

16 Jan 2020
[The Taliban's] pause in attacks on cities is unprecedented over the last dozen years. AFP

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
12 Feb 2019
[Without a solid plan for the US to leave Afghanistan] the inferno of violence that follows might be much worse. AFP

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
20 Jan 2019
The most fundamental shift in Kabul politics recently has been the muddying of the waters during the presidential candidate nominations. Reuters

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
1 Jan 2019
While the news of a potential U.S. drawdown may be a reason for cautious optimism in the region, [Afghanistan's neighbours] don’t want an abrupt withdrawal. Reuters

Graeme Smith

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan

Latest Updates

Q&A / Asia

Who Will Run the Taliban Government?

The Taliban have named a slate of officials to head an interim government in Afghanistan. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Ibraheem Bahiss and Graeme Smith review the roster and assess its implications for the country’s near-term future.

Podcast / Asia

Afghanistan: the Islamic State, still no Taliban government and a looming humanitarian catastrophe

In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk with Afghanistan experts Ibraheem Bahiss and Graeme Smith about the Taliban’s relationship to transnational militancy, including its efforts to fight the Islamic State’s local chapter and its ties to al-Qaeda. They also discuss why the Taliban are taking so long to form a government, the growing humanitarian crisis and how the region and West have responded so far.

Q&A / Asia

Afghanistan’s Low-turnout Election, Insecurity and Unsettled Prospects for Peace

Afghanistan’s fourth presidential election since 2001 brought perhaps 26 per cent of the electorate to the polls. In this Q&A, Crisis Group consultant Graeme Smith and Senior Analyst Borhan Osman explain the weak participation rate and explore the contest’s implications for the country’s stability.

Q&A / Asia

Behind Trump’s Taliban Debacle

On 7 September, U.S. President Donald Trump made the startling announcement that he had invited Taliban leaders to Camp David for talks – and then cancelled the gathering. Crisis Group Asia Program Director Laurel Miller and consultant Graeme Smith explain what happened and what it means for prospects of ending Afghanistan’s war.

Q&A / Asia

Interpreting the U.S. Talks with the Taliban

Talks with the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha have raised hopes that the U.S. could end its involvement in Afghanistan’s war. Our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller and Afghanistan analysts Borhan Osman and Graeme Smith break down what was achieved and what remains unresolved.