Warlords cut deal on Afghan electoral dispute

Afghanistan's electoral dispute was officially resolved Sept. 21, after months of wrangling. Under the deal, Ashraf Ghani becomes president while runner-up Abdullah Abdullah is to nominate a "chief executive officer" (likely himself) with powers similar to those of prime minister. (BBC News) AP reports that the Obama administration hopes to follow this up with a new secuirty deal that will allow some 10,000 US troops to remain in Afghanistan next year after all "combat forces" are supposedly withdrawn at the end of 2014. The outgoing Hamid Karzai had punted on such an arrangement. The deal may be a win for Washington, but not so much for Afghans. Patricia Gossman blogs for Human Rights Watch:

Who won the Afghan elections? Not the voters who responded to the first round with genuine enthusiasm, defying the risk of Taliban violence. Certainly not the 11 men whose fingers were severed by the Taliban for daring to vote. Not Afghan women, who were virtually invisible at the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday when rival presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal to end the standoff over the disputed election. In fact, there were no women at all at the table when President Hamid Karzai summoned notable "elders" to give their stamp of approval to the power-sharing arrangement.

The table where Karzai, Ghani, and Abdullah met with the Afghan political elite on September 19 to cut that deal speaks volumes for the priority the country's leadership holds for human rights: many were the warlords, mujahidin commanders, and other strongmen responsible for 25 years of atrocities, beginning with the fighting in the 1990s. In an act of sinister déjà vu, those individuals with blood-stained hands were empowered to help to divvy up the power pie much like their representatives did at the international conference in Bonn in 2001 that created Afghanistan’s post-Taliban transitional government. The message from the table was clear: failure to appease these powerful, violent figures could spark a new civil war.

Thirteen years after the US invasion, the warlords still rule Afghanistan, grabbing land and stoning women to death. A few courageous women have managed to get into positions of power to challenge this patriarchy of reaction, but some have paid with their lives—like Hanifa Safi, regional head of the Women's Affairs Ministry, killed by a roadside bomb in Laghman province in 2012. 

Karzai took one final swipe at the US on the way out, telling a gathering of Afghan government employees that the US-led military mission had failed to bring peace to his country. "We don't have peace because the Americans didn't want peace," he said. "If America and Pakistan really want it, peace will come to Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is to the benefit of foreigners. But Afghans on both sides are the sacrificial lambs and victims of this war." (FoxNews)

Karzai is hardly blameless, and his protesations are certainly hypocritical. But certainly the US has been accused (repetadly) of conniving with the Taliban, and Pakistan of effectively backing them. This is partially a bid for an oppressive "stability," and partially a continuance of the old Great Game that dates to the Anglo-Afghan wars in which British (today US) imperialism has cultivated the Pashtuns (today the main supporters of the Taliban) as a proxy force…

  1. Afghan security pact signed

    Washington and the new Afghan administration on Sept. 30 signed a new security pact allowing US and NATO forces to remain in the country "until the end of 2024 and beyond." (The Guardian)

  2. Afghanistan ‘withdrawal’ begins, war escalates

    As the last British troops pulled out of Helmand province Oct. 27, turning Camp Bastion over to Afghan control, at least two rockets landed in the central diplomatic area of Kabul—the second such attack in three days. (BBC News, BBC News, Khaama Press)