Afghanistan’s Presidential Elections and US’
‘Residual’ Afghanistan Strategy
Brigadier (Retd.) Dr. Ahsan ur Rahman Khan
# Tags: Afghanistan, US’ Afghanistan Strategy, Afghanistan’s Presidential Election, Elections, US, Strategy
(Map: Courtesy Chinasage.info) (1)
The Marked Fallaciousness of These US’-Imposed Elections
US’ continual efforts to impose presidential elections in Afghanistan, right from the beginning of its military occupation of that country, is one of the more marked fallacious aspects of US’ Afghanistan Strategy.
The mala fide of the US’ efforts has been clearly visible from the fact that right after the occupation of Afghanistan, to head the government of that country US chose Hamid Karzai who, according to George Tenet the former Director of US’ premier intelligence agency CIA, was a ‘CIA man’ (2). Not only that, Hamid Karzai’s younger brother Ahmed Wali Karzai also subsequently was on CIA’s pay roll (3). Hamid Karzai was therefore got ‘made’ by US the Head of State in 2001, Interim President in 2002, and twice (in 2004 and 2009) President of Afghanistan – albeit through vastly fraudulent and rigged elections. Since Hamid Karzai had served the two allowed terms in that office, in 2014 US got Ashraf Ghani ‘made’ as President through almost a mockery of election.
About these ‘managed elections’ in Afghanistan under US’ occupation, certain observations of the educated class of Afghans which highlight the truth are: (a) the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), working for human rights and social justice in Afghanistan, mentioned in its report dated 11 October 2009, “The head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan acknowledged Sunday that there was “widespread fraud” in the August presidential election but refused to give specifics or lay blame to avoid influencing the ongoing recount”(4); (b) In a DW report published on 17 May 2019, Waheed Farzaei of the Lawyers’ Union of Afghanistan asserted, “the current Afghan government was established in 2014 as a result of a power-sharing deal between then candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah — an agreement brokered by former US Secretary of State John Kerry”.—–“The establishment of the current government itself was an act against the constitution; therefore, what is happening now cannot be in line with the law” (5); and (c) the report dated 17 January 2019 by Afghanistan’s largest independent news agency Pajhwok has mentioned about the conference regarding fraud and irregularities in elections, organised by Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) in Kabul. In that conference the participants asserted that “fraud and violations had increased with each election in Afghanistan”. And a report by Tomas Johnson, an analyst outside the AISS, was also released on the occasion. The 100-page report highlighted “the results of the 2014 presidential election were illegal; and “Any elections held after 2004 in Afghanistan were fraudulent, but the fraud in 2014 elections was so massive that both teams of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah Ashraf Ghani claimed victory” (6).
The Fallacy Continues
The term in office of the current Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, thus ‘got elected’ in 2014, expired on 22 May 2019; and the new election was scheduled on 20 April 2019. However, due to problems the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan postponed the election to 20 July, and then had to further postpone election to 28 September 2019.
Due to these repeated experience of fraudulent, rigged, and even US-manipulated elections all through, Afghanistan’s public has lost their trust in these elections. In that context, a survey conducted by the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) showed in a report dated 15 August 2017, i.e. just before the finally scheduled presidential election, that:-
(a)The incumbent Afghan government along with the international community and election management bodies has failed miserably to restore citizens’ trust in the process;
(b) 57.13% of the participants have no interest in the coming election and will not vote to any of the presidential candidates;
(c) Those who expressed no interest in the coming election justified their lack of participation with the following reasons:-
- EMBs (election management bodies) have no freedom or the required capacity to hold the coming 2019 election.
- The incumbent government and its teams are trying to sabotage the 2019 presidential election in their own favor and at the expense of others.
- Elections are symbolic and metaphoric in which citizens’ votes are meaningless.
- The peace process is pre-dominantly given priority over elections, making the coming election contingent upon a possible peace deal.
- Elections have always been a hideous cause for citizens’ life adversities.
- Serious upsurge in electoral fraud and unjust especially in the recent 2018 parliamentary elections.
- Citizens’ votes were sacrificed for a political deal in the 2014 Presidential election.
- Severe security threats and challenges.
- The National Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan failed to keep its promise, walk its talk and meet citizens’ expectations.
- Candidates, be it of any election, have always made unrealistic and fake promises to the general public. (7)
And then, even after holding the long delayed presidential election, the ‘fiasco’ continues further. That fact has been reported by the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) which is an independent policy research and analysis organisation, registered in Germany and Afghanistan, funded in large part by Scandinavian countries, and has a core team based in Kabul, Afghanistan (8). In its report dated 21 November 2019, it has given the details as to how right from the beginning even the counting of the polled votes was hotly disputed by most of the presidential candidates, blaming the invalidity of as many as 300,000 votes in an already low polling turnout (about 19.1% of the registered voters). The IEC stopped counting process, but then started the recounting of votes again causing the presidential candidates, except only Ashraf Ghani, to declare that they would not accept the results announced by IEC. The election watchdogs like TEFA and others also raised the objections. The results have thus been stalled. And, according to this AAN report “The IEC has now crashed two dates for the announcement of preliminary results (after missing its first date on 19 October, the IEC said it would announce the results on 14 November, but has again failed to do so). It has not yet set a new date. According to the initial electoral calendar, the IEC should have announced the final results on 7 November and was to hold any possible runoff on 23 November. That is now impossible, pushing any potential runoff further into the harsh winter months, or further on, into spring 2020. It raises the prospect of this electoral spectacle continuing for months to come”. (9)
The Point to Ponder Upon
It may be mind boggling as to why after all US has been so keenly and forcefully ‘imposing’ this system of presidential government in Afghanistan all through the 19 years of its military occupation of the country through this horribly fraudulent and manipulated system of getting the president ‘elected’. The riddle is easily solved when we note the background of the two presidents chosen so far by US. Hamid Karzai, the ‘US’ CIA’s man’, was made to head Afghanistan government from 2001 to 2014, as mentioned earlier in this article. When he completed his second tenure of the so called elected terms, another person had to be found out to do that job. US’ choice was Ashraf Ghani. He had graduated with the class of 1967 in US, obtained bachelors degree from American University Beirut in 1973, earned his master’s in 1977 and PhD in 1983 in US. He was a university faculty member in US from 1983 to 1991; then he had joined World Bank in 1991. His Christian-born Lebanese wife and two US-born children have US citizenship. He returned to Afghanistan after 24 years in December 2001 to join the US-planted government as chief advisor to Hamid Karzai on 1 February 2002 (10). As mentioned earlier in this article, he was helped by US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to become the next president in 2014. And now, he is again the ‘US’ man’ to become a second term president, will of the people of Afghanistan notwithstanding.
In this context it should also be understood that this continual adamance of US to keep its thus chosen presidential government in Afghanistan is factually that ‘linchpin foundation’ upon which the whole structure of the real objectives entailed in US’ Afghanistan strategy is framed.
The Real Objectives of US’ Afghanistan Strategy
It is now very obvious that all of the objectives initially and subsequently announced by US for its military occupation of Afghanistan were blatant untruth. The real objectives, of US’ Afghanistan strategy, become very clear when the map showing Afghanistan and its surrounding countries is carefully looked at to grasp the geospatial linkage of Afghanistan with those countries.
Factually, right from the beginning, the overriding objective of US in occupying Afghanistan has been/still is to implant and firmly establish its politico-military stranglehold on Afghanistan, which could be used by US as a ‘strategic fulcrum’ to geo-strategically dominate Iran, Pakistan, China, Central Asia, and Russia. And the other US’ objectives, as a corollary to this overriding objective, are: (a) gravitating from that ‘strategic fulcrum’, to apply US’ geographical leverage to effectively dominate the energy (oil/gas) rich Eurasia and Middle-East regions, as also the energy supply equations of these energy-producing regions with the energy-hungry India, China, and Japan, etc; (b) by establishing that politico-military stranglehold on Afghanistan, to provide a western ‘strategic addendum’ to the US-India strategic partnership – which has originally been for containment of China and its influence extending to the south-east, as mentioned by US’ Center for a new American Security dated 23 October 2019 that a strategic bet on India “was a central pillar of the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia, and it remains a central pillar of the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy. For nearly two decades, Washington has embraced the strategic logic that it should facilitate the rise of India as a great power because a stronger India is indispensable in counter-balancing Chinese power and ambitions (11); (c) that western ‘strategic addendum’ is also to facilitate US-India strategic partnership to keep under pressure, and destabilised when required through direct/proxy terrorism, Pakistan – the only nuclear power Muslim country; and (d) to exploit the vast mineral resources of Afghanistan; though the actualisation of that objective will obviously be time consuming due to the technological and infrastructure development intricacies.
Factors Dominating US’ Extra-Regional Warmongering
One of the electioneering promises of Donald Trump, made with US’ public, was ending US’ extra-regional wars including that in Afghanistan. And, ending that unwinnable war is certainly a necessity – according to reports, that war has so far cost about 1. 07 trillion USD of US’ taxpayers’ money, 24000 US military personnel dead, tens of thousands wounded, maimed, suffering from brain/mental diseases, and many such veterans committing suicide.
However, it has become very obvious that President Trump is unable to fulfill that promise due to the unbearable pressure of US’ powerful Establishment (the intricately colluding group of US’ military industrial complex, CIA, Pentagon, and the very powerful lobbies). This group prefers the policy of extra-regional warmongering, using US’ high-tech military might to spread direct/proxy wars or military deployments, resulting in de-stabilisaion in different parts of the world to (a) attain geopolitical/geostrategic/geoeconomic gains in the ‘world power play’, and (b) to fill the coffers of these warmongering power-wielders.
These power wielders in US’ Establishment are not perturbed about the immense human sufferings of the people of US and target countries, because those fallen in battles, wounded, maimed and become victims of brain/mental diseases due to stress are from the working class or other segments of society, and not from the families of these power wielders. This unfortunate fact is also published in an article by Professor Jonathon Turley of George Washington University (12).
Factually speaking, both the opposites of situation in Afghanistan – stability under the US-planted government, by pressurising Afghanistan Taliban to accept the legitimacy of that government; or de-stability due to continuing resistance against that government by Afghanistan Taliban – suit US’ military Establishment, because both these eventualities provide US’ Establishment the ‘self-acclaimed’ proviso to retain their politico-military stranglehold on Afghanistan.
That dominance of the ‘policy makers’ in US’ Establishment is thus the reason of the present ‘ebb and flow’ of the Afghan peace process. It is at the behest of these ‘policy makers’ that US’ government is insisting that Afghanistan Taliban accept to enter into a peace deal dialogue with the US-planted government in Afghanistan and also accept a ceasefire, as a prelude to US’ announcement of its plan for its troops withdrawal from Afghanistan. In effect, therefore, the US’ policy makers want the formal recognition of that US-planted government by Afghanistan Taliban for arranging the peace deal. Very obviously that is US’ policy makers design to retain their planted government in Afghanistan, baiting Afghanistan Taliban to have ‘some’ share in that government.
It is a well-acknowledged fact that Afghans, particularly their dominant majority race Pashtuns, have a deeply ingrained psyche of not tolerating the dominance of any foreign power or its planted government. All through the recorded history they have kept on fighting generation after generation till the ouster of such foreign interventions. That is why Afghanistan is known to be the graveyard of empires. Factually this ingrained psyche is the binding force of the unity of Afghanistan Talibans, who basically are Pashtuns, though some non-Pashtuns have also joined their ranks due to the same psyche impulse. It is therefore obvious that any form of recognition of the US-planted government by Afghanistan Talibans will be the ‘death knell’ of their unity. It is for this psyche impulse that Afghanistan Talibans are refusing to enter into a peace dialogue with the US-planted government. They are insisting that the initiation of the peace dialogue should commence between them and US in which US formally announce the schedule of their withdrawal from Afghanistan. After that, Afghanistan Talibans are prepared to talk to all factions of the country, even including the current government persons in their non-government capacity, in arranging the ceasefire and formulating the peace plan including formation of an inclusive Afghanistan government.
However, at least so far, the US’ policy makers are hoping against hope to somehow coerce Afghanistan Talibans to submit to the US dictates – a possibility which is a historically proven fallacy. Unfortunately therefore, due to the extreme callousness of US’ policy makers, return of peace in Afghanistan is not discernible at least in the immediate timeframe.
About The Author.
Retired officer of Pakistan Army; graduate of Command & Staff College and post-graduate of National Defence College; war veteran; retired due to heart ailment; research-analyst; post-retirement PhD; then decided to be a teacher; taught in school for about three-and-half years; then on, taught as visiting teaching faculty various social science subjects at graduate and masters levels in the universities of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for about 11years; house-bound since 2013 due to ailment, retaining the passion for research, analysis, and sharing with those who may be interested. Can be reached at [email protected]