Afghan elections and the future of the war on the Taliban

Afghan elections will take place on the 20th of August, the Taliban are naturally already trying to use force to stop people from voting. I wonder if, ironically, their call to boycott elections isn’t why the two main contenders are both very moderate and eloquent people. If Taliban supporters were voting that might not be the case. I also find it amazing that there’s as many as 41 candidates registered.

Below is a great video report about Hamid Karzai (Afghanistan’s current president), who has good chances of being re-elected. I’ve always found him a fascinating man and I think he is one of the best and most eloquent diplomats in the world today. How well he’s done his job as president is a different matter, but I’ve always wondered how much has even been in his power. Sometimes it seems like the US and international forces have tied his hands.

And I also wanted to embed something about Hamid Karzai’s main opponent. At first it seemed that Hamid Karzai would win the elections in a land slide, but Abdullah Abdullah has gained a lot of support. I don’t like the interviewer in the video I’ve embedded below, but I haven’t found anything better *sigh*
At first I had my doubts about Abdullah Abdullah (the moment I hear the magic words “Northern Alliance” I bristle - they have some horrible war crimes on their hands, yet somehow the West thinks they’re safer allies than the Taliban). But I’m now getting the feeling that he’s the kind of guy, who tries to find the option that will work best for Afghanistan at the current time. The Northern Alliance freed Afghanistan from Soviet occupation and at that time they were, I think, a very positive force for Afghanistan (though I really should read up more on this - Afghan recent history is so complicated that getting one’s head round it is quite a challenge :]). Anyway, check out the interview with Abdullah Abdullah below:

I’ve no idea who I’m supporting… I was initially on Karzai’s side, but I’m now wondering whether a change wouldn’t be a good thing. The interesting thing about Abdullah Abdullah is that he sort of came from nowhere - nobody was expecting him to be a major force to be reckoned with in these elections. The Americans have apparently held conversations with Karzai on how they would like certain policies taken care of after his re-election, but as Abdullah wasn’t even in the running, it’s doubtful they’ve had such talks with him. So Abdullah is probably at this point not obliged by the Americans to do or act in any particular way.
While I’m on the topic, check out this editorial. It’s the best I’ve read on the topic - it really sums up all the problems of US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One of the more interesting points the author makes is:

Pakistan is experienced in governance and is well able to deal with its own Islamists and tribalists under normal circumstances; until recently, Pakistani Islamists had one of the lowest rates of electoral success in the Muslim world.

When I listen to both Karzai and Abdullah, I have the same impression - they have a very good grip and understanding of Afghanistan’s situation and of the Afghan people. If they could do their own thing with the support of the international community rather than let the Americans do their own thing and be themselves only in a supporting role, I think Afghanistan would be making much better progress. After Obama was elected and starting putting his new Afghan policy into place, Karzai was against it and said so. He argued that an increase of US military forces in Afghanistan would only destabilize the situation further by increasing civilian casualties. Time has shown that he was right.

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