Posts Tagged ‘Hamid Karzai’

Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Another way out of the mire

November 18, 2009


The Guardian/UK, Nov. 18, 2009

The case for continuing the war effort in Afghanistan is buttressed by negatives: the west can not afford to cede al-Qaida the space to regroup; there will be a civil war if foreign troops leave; Pakistan’s fight against the Taliban would be undermined; Afghanistan would be abandoned for the second time in eight years. We can say what our forces are fighting against, but not what they are fighting for. Is it a second term of Hamid Karzai, whose inauguration tomorrow the west will endorse? The most devastating description of his government was provided by a former US marine captain, Matthew Hoh, who resigned as a US foreign serviceman in Zabul province. He described the government’s failing as legion and metastatic: glaring corruption; a president whose confidants comprise drug lords and war criminals; provincial and district leaders who live off US handouts ; an election dominated by fraud and discredited by low voter turnout.

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Robert Fisk: America is performing its familiar role of propping up a dictator

November 5, 2009

As in Vietnam, Karzai is going to rule over an equally tiny island of corruption

Robert Fisk, The Independent/UK, November 4, 2009

Could there be a more accurate description of the Obama-Brown message of congratulations to the fraudulently elected Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan? First the Palestinians held fair elections in 2006, voted for Hamas and were brutally punished for it – they still are – and then the Iranians held fraudulent elections in June which put back the weird Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whom everyone outside Iran (and a lot inside) regard as a dictator. But now we have the venal, corrupt, sectarian Karzai in power after a poll far more ambitiously rigged than the Iranian version, and – yup, we love him dearly and accept his totally fraudulent election.

Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price

November 4, 2009

The declaration of victory caps weeks of farce and failure, especially for the UN. To send more troops now would be a waste

Peter Galbraith, The Guardian/UK, Nov 3, 2009

Afghanistan’s presidential election is over, and it was a fiasco. The decision by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to cancel the second round and declare the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, the victor concludes a process that undermined Afghanistan‘s nascent democracy. In the US and Europe, the fraud-tainted elections halted the momentum for President Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy and undercut support for sending more troops.

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Uncle Sam in Afghanistan: Good Help Is Hard to Find

October 23, 2009

By Solomon, Norman, ZNet, Oct 23, 2009
Norman Solomon’s ZSpace Page

Almost eight years after choosing Hamid Karzai to head the Afghan government, Uncle Sam would like to give him a pink slip. But it’s not easy. And the grim fiasco of Afghanistan’s last election is shadowing the next.

Another display of electioneering and voting has been ordered up from Washington. But after a chemical mix has blown a hole through the roof — with all the elements for massive fraud still in place — what’s the point of throwing together the same ingredients?

This time, the spinners in Washington hope to be better prepared.

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Mounting Afghan follies give U.S. a way out

September 19, 2009
By GWYNNE DYER, The Japan Times Online, Sep 16, 2009

Maybe it’s the relatively thin air up on those high plateaus that makes them foolish. First, ballot fraud apparently helped Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who would probably have won the second round in the presidential election in Iran anyway, to win in the first round and avoid a runoff. The incredible voting figures declared by the government triggered huge demonstrations in Iran and gravely undermined the regime’s legitimacy.

Two months later, in next-door Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai did exactly the same thing. All but one of his opponents would have been eliminated in the first round of voting, so his re-election as president in the second round was assured. He had bribed the northern warlords to deliver large blocks of votes to him, and in the south his Pashtun ethnic roots made him the favored candidate among those who dared to vote.

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Obama’s AfPak war intensifies on both sides of border

August 30, 2009

By James Cogan,, August 29, 2009

As low voter turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential election last week provided further evidence of broad hostility to the US-led occupation, the armed insurgency has continued to escalate. The number of US and NATO troops killed in the country during 2009 reached 301 yesterday—already the highest annual toll of the eight-year occupation.

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Quittin’ Time in Afghanistan

August 24, 2009

by Eric Margolis | The Toronto Sun, Aug 23, 2009

An election held under the guns of a foreign occupation army cannot be called legitimate or democratic.This week’s stage-managed vote in Afghanistan for candidates chosen by western powers is unlikely to bring either peace or tranquility to this wretched nation that has suffered 30 years of war.

The Taliban and its nationalist allies rejected the vote as a fraud designed to validate continued foreign occupation and open the way for western oil and gas pipelines.

The Taliban, which speaks for many of Afghanistan’s majority Pashtun, said it would only join a national election when U.S. and NATO troops withdraw.

After all the pre-election hoopla and agitprop in Afghanistan, we come out the same door we went in. The amiable U.S.-installed leader, Hamid Karzai, may remain in office, powerless.

Yet Washington is demanding its figurehead achieve things he simply cannot do. Meanwhile, Karzai’s regime is engulfed by corruption and drug dealing.

Real power remains with strongmen from the Tajik and Uzbek minorities and local, drug-dealing tribal warlords who are paid by Washington to pretend to support Karzai. Behind the Tajiks and Uzbeks stand their patrons, Russia, India and Iran.

Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes, which make up 55% of the population, are largely excluded from power. They were the West’s closest allies and foot soldiers (“freedom fighters”) during the 1980s war against the Soviets.

The Taliban arose during the chaotic civil war of the early 1990s as a rural, mostly Pashtun religious movement to stop the wide-scale rape of women, impose order, and fight the drug-dealing Afghan Communists. The so-called “terrorist Taliban” received U.S. funding until four months before 9/11. Washington cut off aid after the Taliban made the fatal error of giving a major pipeline deal to an Argentine rather than U.S. oil firm for which Hamid Karzai once reportedly worked as a consultant.

Oil pipeline

The current war in Afghanistan is not about democracy, women’s rights, education or nation building. Al-Qaida, the other excuse, barely exists. Its handful of members long ago decamped to Pakistan. The war really is about oil pipeline routes and western domination of the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

Afghanistan is a three-legged ethnic stool. Take away the Pashtun leg and stability is impossible.

There will be neither peace nor stability in Afghanistan until all ethnic groups are enfranchised. The West must cease backing minority Tajiks and Uzbeks against majority Pashtun — who deserve their rightful share of power and spoils.

The solution to this unnecessary war is not more phoney elections but a comprehensive peace agreement among ethnic factions that largely restores the status quo before the 1970 Soviet invasion. That means a weak central government in Kabul (Karzai is ideal for this job) and a high degree of autonomy for self-governing Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara regions.

Government should revert to the old “loya jirga” system of tribal sit downs, where decisions are made by consensus, often after lengthy haggling. That is the way of the Afghans and of traditional Islamic society.

All foreign soldiers must withdraw. Create a diplomatic “cordon sanitaire” around Afghanistan’s borders, returning it to its traditional role as a neutral buffer state.

The powers now stirring the Afghan pot — the U.S., NATO, India, Iran, Russia, the Communist Central Asian states — must cease meddling. They have become part of the Afghan problem. Afghans must be allowed to slowly resolve their differences the traditional Afghan way, even if it initially means blood. That’s unavoidable.

The only way to end the epidemic of drug trading is to shut border crossings to Pakistan and the Central Asian states. But those nation’s high officials, corrupted by drug money, will resist.

We can’t solve Afghanistan’s social or political problems by waging a cruel and apparently endless war. A senior British general just warned his troops might have to stay for another 40 years. (He later retracted).

The western powers, Canada included, have added to the bloody mess in Afghanistan. Time to go home.

© 2009 The Toronto Sun

Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World

The Afghan Pipe Dream

August 20, 2009
by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times Online, Aug 20, 2009

America’s convoluted, Alice-in-Wonderland interpretation of this summer’s top political show – the “free expression of the people” in the Afghanistan election – reads like an opium dream. In fact, it is actually a pipe dream – as in Pipelineistan. With the added twist that no one’s saying a word about the pipe that’s delivering the opium dream.

As in an opium dream, delusion reigns. The chances of United States President Barack Obama actually elaborating what his AfPak strategy really is are as likely as having his super-envoy Richard Holbrooke share a pipe with explosive uber-guerrilla warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

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Why Afghans Have No Hope in This Week’s Vote

August 19, 2009

by Malalai Joya |, Aug 18, 2009

Like millions of Afghans, I have no hope in the results of this week’s election. In a country ruled by warlords, occupation forces, Taliban insurgency, drug money and guns, no one can expect a legitimate or fair vote.

Among the people on the street, a common sentiment is, ‘Everything has already been decided by the U.S. and NATO, and the real winner has already been picked by the White House and Pentagon.’ Although there are a total of 41 candidates running for president, the vast majority of them are well known faces responsible for the current disastrous situation in Afghanistan.

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What Does Barack Obama Really Want in Afghanistan?

August 18, 2009

By William Pfaff |, Aug 18, 2009

It would be a great service to the American nation if Barack Obama would tell us what he himself thinks the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are about. To capture Osama bin Laden? There have been eight years in which to capture bin Laden and it’s not been done yet, and there seems no reason to think that anything important would change if the thousands of Marines now scheduled for Afghanistan did capture him. What did it change to capture and execute Saddam Hussein in Iraq?

General Stanley McChyrstal says the Taliban are winning (he subsequently denied this). Does the president think he can have a military solution — or a political solution? The latter is not impossible.

Is the war meant to defeat the Taliban? Why? What business is it of the United States to determine who runs Afghanistan, when the Afghan nation has absolutely no ability, interest, or capacity to do harm to the United States or to any of the NATO countries?

The Bush administration put Hamid Karzai into the Afghan presidency because he was a compliant figure Americans could work with. He was a Pathan, an Americanized Pathan, and Pathans are the majority ethnic in Afghanistan. As the U.S had worked with the hostile Northern Alliance, and other ethnically hostile warlords, to defeat the Taliban government, itself composed of Pathans, it seemed prudent to put one of them in charge. This was too clever by half. Washington should have left it to the Afghans to decide.

Washington manipulated the Loya Jirga (national assembly of regional and tribal leaders) called in June 2002, so as to put Karzai in office.

This was despite the will of the majority of the assembly to bring back the former royal family, and the ex-king, as non-partisan and traditionally legitimate influences in the country’s affairs.

By acting as it did, the Bush administration robbed Karzai of legitimacy, making him a foreign puppet. That, and his own inadequacies, are responsible for the weakness and corruption of his government, which may be fatal to it in the national elections scheduled to take place on August 20.

Moreover, since the Karzai government was set up in 2001, northern Pakistan has largely been purged of Pathans — as well as of those Taliban religious fundamentalists inside the Pathan community who dominated the country until the Americans came, and who now are making their bid to return to power, despite the fact that the cruelty of their previous practices seem widely to have discredited them.

Carlo Cristofori, Secretary of the International Committee for Solidarity with the Afghan Resistance, says this purge has been an almost completely unreported aspect of the situation, and a dangerous one. (The Committee was set up by members of the European Parliament at the time of the Soviet invasion, in 1979.)

“It is sufficient to look at a map of the insurgency to see that it is practically the same as an ethnic map of the Pathan areas – including the Pathan areas of Pakistan. This is why throwing more military forces into the cauldron, and killing more Pathans [and American and NATO soldiers], is not the best solution – and is hardly a freedom and self-determination solution.”

President Barack Obama is likely to be influenced by a quite different report prepared for him by an interagency U.S. policy review earlier this year. The review’s chairman, Bruce Riedel, has just published in Washington’s National Interest magazine (July-August) what seems to this reader a near-hysterical analysis of the Afghanistan-Pakistan situation, warning of a Taliban conquest of nuclear-armed Pakistan that would pose “the most serious threat to the United States since the end of the cold war.” Hillary Clinton calls Pakistan “a mortal danger” to global security.

The coolest head in the regional policy debate since 2001 has been the University of Michigan historian, Juan Cole, who comments that what we are hearing now is “doomsday rhetoric about this region [which] is hardly new. It’s at least 100 years old.”

His view is the common-sense one that the struggle in Pakistan-Afghanistan is essentially over local matters of great import to the Pathans, and to their neighbors, and of very little consequence for anyone else — least of all the NATO countries and the U.S. The warning that “if we don’t fight them there we will have to fight them at home,” as recently voiced by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, can only be called a pathetic fantasy.

The advice of Carlos Cristofori is to convoke a new Loya Jirga as soon as possible, possibly including surviving members of the royal family (the king himself is dead), and within a republican rather than monarchical framework. Such a meeting is the traditional method for settling political issues among the ethnic communities of Afghanistan.

The Pathans have to be restored to their proportional weight in the meeting, and the U.S. and NATO must scrupulously avoid manipulating the affair, and firmly defend what the Afghans decide. Then there might be some hope that the foreign troops could go home, to leave the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan to work out their own fortunes, or misfortunes, as always in the past.

William Pfaff is the author of eight books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history, including books on utopian thought, romanticism and violence, nationalism, and the impact of the West on the non-Western world. His newspaper column, featured in The International Herald Tribune for more than a quarter-century, and his globally syndicated articles, have given him the widest international influence of any American commentator.

William PFAFF

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