Showing posts tagged as "afghanistan"

Showing posts tagged afghanistan

20 Oct
"Political transitions in Afghanistan have always been fraught. The transfer of power in 2014 may yet prove the most peaceful handover of leadership in the country’s history, despite the tensions that emerged in the process. Hamid Karzai now stands as the only Afghan leader to have voluntarily surrendered his office, and his legacy will be further strengthened if he uses his considerable influence to make the next administration a success and refrains from trying to control the new president."

—From Crisis Group’s latest Asia Report: Afghanistan’s Political Transition

16 Oct
Afghanistan’s Political Transition
Kabul/Brussels  |   16 Oct 2014
Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, inherits a government that is running out of money and losing ground to the insurgency. As foreign troops withdraw, the new government must stay united and move quickly on reforms.
In its latest report, Afghanistan’s Political Transition, the International Crisis Group examines the politics surrounding the deeply contested 2014 presidential election, analysing threats and opportunities. Any election during an escalating civil war will never reflect the full breadth of popular opinion, and the polls were marred by substantial fraud. Still, the most peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history creates opportunities to improve governance, reduce corruption and steer the country toward greater stability.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
The formation of a national unity government including Ghani and his election rival Abdullah Abdullah presents opportunities to stabilise the transition, preventing further erosion of state cohesion – but it also poses risks, particularly of factionalism within Kabul. Afghanistan and its donors must focus on the stability of the government while implementing the reforms promised in Ghani’s manifesto.
Ethnic tensions became more acute during the second round, in particular, as ethnic Pashtuns and Uzbeks rallied in large numbers around Ghani and his running mate Abdul Rashid Dostum; at the same time, Abdullah’s ticket became identified mainly with ethnic Tajiks and some Hazara factions. Reducing such mistrust will be crucial if this political transition is to survive.
Some of the political fallout from such a divisive process could be addressed with a transparent review of lessons to be applied to strengthen the 2015 parliamentary and 2019 presidential elections. Such a review, with the potential for reconsidering laws, regulations and even the constitution, may allow for some dilution of the winner-takes-all presidential system.
In the short term, Ghani and Abdullah must steer the government through urgent business, including satisfying the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), to prevent Afghanistan from being blacklisted by financial institutions and ensure continued donor support.
“Ghani and Abdullah will need to continue serving as voices of restraint as they strive to make the unity government function, and they deserve to receive international support in these efforts” says says Graeme Smith, Afghanistan Senior Analyst. “The Afghan government cannot afford to drift, and any disunity in Kabul will affect the country’s ability to fight its battles and pay its bills”.
“While the two candidates’ power-sharing deals may be imperfect, they have also opened a conversation about revising the overly centralised presidential system”, says Samina Ahmed, South Asia Project Director and Senior Asia Adviser. “Afghanistan needs constitutional reforms to dilute some powers of the presidency and give more responsibilities to elected local officials. This would help mitigate factional tensions in the government and lower the stakes in future elections”.
FULL REPORT

Afghanistan’s Political Transition

Kabul/Brussels  |   16 Oct 2014

Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, inherits a government that is running out of money and losing ground to the insurgency. As foreign troops withdraw, the new government must stay united and move quickly on reforms.

In its latest report, Afghanistan’s Political Transition, the International Crisis Group examines the politics surrounding the deeply contested 2014 presidential election, analysing threats and opportunities. Any election during an escalating civil war will never reflect the full breadth of popular opinion, and the polls were marred by substantial fraud. Still, the most peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history creates opportunities to improve governance, reduce corruption and steer the country toward greater stability.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • The formation of a national unity government including Ghani and his election rival Abdullah Abdullah presents opportunities to stabilise the transition, preventing further erosion of state cohesion – but it also poses risks, particularly of factionalism within Kabul. Afghanistan and its donors must focus on the stability of the government while implementing the reforms promised in Ghani’s manifesto.
  • Ethnic tensions became more acute during the second round, in particular, as ethnic Pashtuns and Uzbeks rallied in large numbers around Ghani and his running mate Abdul Rashid Dostum; at the same time, Abdullah’s ticket became identified mainly with ethnic Tajiks and some Hazara factions. Reducing such mistrust will be crucial if this political transition is to survive.
  • Some of the political fallout from such a divisive process could be addressed with a transparent review of lessons to be applied to strengthen the 2015 parliamentary and 2019 presidential elections. Such a review, with the potential for reconsidering laws, regulations and even the constitution, may allow for some dilution of the winner-takes-all presidential system.
  • In the short term, Ghani and Abdullah must steer the government through urgent business, including satisfying the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), to prevent Afghanistan from being blacklisted by financial institutions and ensure continued donor support.

“Ghani and Abdullah will need to continue serving as voices of restraint as they strive to make the unity government function, and they deserve to receive international support in these efforts” says says Graeme Smith, Afghanistan Senior Analyst. “The Afghan government cannot afford to drift, and any disunity in Kabul will affect the country’s ability to fight its battles and pay its bills”.

“While the two candidates’ power-sharing deals may be imperfect, they have also opened a conversation about revising the overly centralised presidential system”, says Samina Ahmed, South Asia Project Director and Senior Asia Adviser. “Afghanistan needs constitutional reforms to dilute some powers of the presidency and give more responsibilities to elected local officials. This would help mitigate factional tensions in the government and lower the stakes in future elections”.

FULL REPORT

6 Oct
Afghan women’s daily battle against abuse | Bethany Matta
Taloqan, Afghanistan - The women affairs office in Taloqan, the capital of the northern Afghan province of Takhar, remains busy as distressed women and family members line up for help.
One such woman is Sadia whose husband, a militiaman, recently cut off her genitals. She left her husband’s home after the horrific incident.
"The women affairs office here has guided this case every step of the way," Razmara Hawash, who is in charge of the office in Takhar told Al Jazeera, referring to Sadia’s case.
"If we had not, then they would have used either money or power to get her back. Her husband and his family are powerful people."
FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera)
Photo: Kenneth Taylor Jr/flickr

Afghan women’s daily battle against abuse | Bethany Matta

Taloqan, Afghanistan - The women affairs office in Taloqan, the capital of the northern Afghan province of Takhar, remains busy as distressed women and family members line up for help.

One such woman is Sadia whose husband, a militiaman, recently cut off her genitals. She left her husband’s home after the horrific incident.

"The women affairs office here has guided this case every step of the way," Razmara Hawash, who is in charge of the office in Takhar told Al Jazeera, referring to Sadia’s case.

"If we had not, then they would have used either money or power to get her back. Her husband and his family are powerful people."

FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera)

Photo: Kenneth Taylor Jr/flickr

2 Oct
QUICK FIX IN KABUL | SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN
THE GHANI-ABDULLAH DEAL KEEPS THE PEACE, FOR NOW.
At a high school in Kabul on Sept. 22, Ashraf Ghani, dressed in crisp white shalwar kameez and black jacket, was almost shouting. “We are not just responsible for protecting the vote of the people,” he said, “but also to protect people’s lives!” This, Ghani’s first speech as Afghanistan’s president-elect, was ostensible explanation for why the Afghan people had had to wait more than three months since the last ballots were cast to find out just who would succeed Hamid Karzai as the war-torn country’s next leader.
Between the end of the vote and the power-sharing agreement finally being reached between Ghani and his challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, it had appeared likely that the controversial presidential election might push Afghanistan back into civil war. Talks between Ghani and Abdullah had repeatedly broken down. More than once, it got so bad between them that their campaign workers participating in the U.N.-monitored vote audit got into fistfights. Fearing loss of influence as a result of the political crisis, the country’s warlords threatened to create their own government. It took U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a number of personal visits and some 27 phone calls to Ghani and Abdullah to even get the two candidates in the same room.
FULL ARTICLE (Newsweek)
Photo: State Department/US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/flickr

QUICK FIX IN KABUL | SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN

THE GHANI-ABDULLAH DEAL KEEPS THE PEACE, FOR NOW.

At a high school in Kabul on Sept. 22, Ashraf Ghani, dressed in crisp white shalwar kameez and black jacket, was almost shouting. “We are not just responsible for protecting the vote of the people,” he said, “but also to protect people’s lives!” This, Ghani’s first speech as Afghanistan’s president-elect, was ostensible explanation for why the Afghan people had had to wait more than three months since the last ballots were cast to find out just who would succeed Hamid Karzai as the war-torn country’s next leader.

Between the end of the vote and the power-sharing agreement finally being reached between Ghani and his challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, it had appeared likely that the controversial presidential election might push Afghanistan back into civil war. Talks between Ghani and Abdullah had repeatedly broken down. More than once, it got so bad between them that their campaign workers participating in the U.N.-monitored vote audit got into fistfights. Fearing loss of influence as a result of the political crisis, the country’s warlords threatened to create their own government. It took U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a number of personal visits and some 27 phone calls to Ghani and Abdullah to even get the two candidates in the same room.

FULL ARTICLE (Newsweek)

Photo: State Department/US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/flickr

16 Sep
Fears of unrest cloud Afghanistan as election dispute drags on | ALI M. LATIFI, SHASHANK BENGALI
As Afghanistan’s disputed presidential vote nears an uncertain conclusion, fears are mounting that post-election unrest could threaten the fragile political order that the United States has struggled for 13 years to help build.
Recent developments have raised questions about the ability of Abdullah Abdullah — the one-time front-runner who has alleged a conspiracy to rig the results against him — to pacify supporters if he, as expected, is declared the runner-up.
The concerns have increased as he has clashed with rival Ashraf Ghani over the details of a power-sharing proposal, brokered by the Obama administration, in which the new president would cede some decision-making authority to a chief executive from the opposing camp.
FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)
Photo: UNAMA/Fardin Waeza/United Nations Development Programme/flickr

Fears of unrest cloud Afghanistan as election dispute drags on | ALI M. LATIFI, SHASHANK BENGALI

As Afghanistan’s disputed presidential vote nears an uncertain conclusion, fears are mounting that post-election unrest could threaten the fragile political order that the United States has struggled for 13 years to help build.

Recent developments have raised questions about the ability of Abdullah Abdullah — the one-time front-runner who has alleged a conspiracy to rig the results against him — to pacify supporters if he, as expected, is declared the runner-up.

The concerns have increased as he has clashed with rival Ashraf Ghani over the details of a power-sharing proposal, brokered by the Obama administration, in which the new president would cede some decision-making authority to a chief executive from the opposing camp.

FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)

Photo: UNAMA/Fardin Waeza/United Nations Development Programme/flickr

3 Sep
Afghan turmoil threatens NATO’s ‘mission accomplished’ plans | ADRIAN CROFT AND MIRWAIS HAROONI
(Reuters) - NATO will declare “mission accomplished” this week as it winds down more than a decade of operations in Afghanistan but departing combat troops look likely to leave behind political turmoil and an emboldened insurgency.
The embattled country is also suffering a sharp economic slowdown.
NATO had hoped its summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday would herald a smooth handover of security at the end of this year from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan forces. It then plans to cut back its role to a smaller mission to train and advise Afghan troops.
The 28-nation alliance had also hoped to celebrate Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power by inviting a new president to share the spotlight with U.S. President Barack Obama and the other 27 allied leaders.
Instead, NATO diplomats privately admit that the backdrop to the summit is the “worst case scenario”.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Jeremy L. Wood via Chuck Holton/flickr

Afghan turmoil threatens NATO’s ‘mission accomplished’ plans | ADRIAN CROFT AND MIRWAIS HAROONI

(Reuters) - NATO will declare “mission accomplished” this week as it winds down more than a decade of operations in Afghanistan but departing combat troops look likely to leave behind political turmoil and an emboldened insurgency.

The embattled country is also suffering a sharp economic slowdown.

NATO had hoped its summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday would herald a smooth handover of security at the end of this year from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan forces. It then plans to cut back its role to a smaller mission to train and advise Afghan troops.

The 28-nation alliance had also hoped to celebrate Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power by inviting a new president to share the spotlight with U.S. President Barack Obama and the other 27 allied leaders.

Instead, NATO diplomats privately admit that the backdrop to the summit is the “worst case scenario”.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Jeremy L. Wood via Chuck Holton/flickr

2 Sep
LINK

Political vacuum in Afghanistan | All media content | DW.DE | 02.09.2014

Political vacuum in Afghanistan | Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi

DW’s Reporter reports on insecurity as the political uncertainty in post-election Afghanistan continues.

COMPLETE VIDEO (Deutsche Welle)

27 Aug
Afghan forces battle for control of symbolic Kunduz province | MIRWAIS HAROONI
(Reuters) - Afghan security forces are battling the Taliban for control of the northern province of Kunduz, where insurgents are threatening to overrun the capital and terrorising residents who have fled to nearby districts.
The battle for Kunduz, as politicians wrangle amid a deadlocked presidential election in the capital, has special significance for people on both sides: it was the Taliban’s last stronghold before the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance drove them out in 2001.
The fighting in Kunduz reflects a broader trend of insurgent attacks across the country involving hundreds of fighters at a time.
Most Western troops are due to leave Afghanistan after 13 years of fighting, leaving a security vacuum some fear the Taliban could quickly fill as Afghan security forces grapple with maintaining law and order on their own.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/flickr

Afghan forces battle for control of symbolic Kunduz province | MIRWAIS HAROONI

(Reuters) - Afghan security forces are battling the Taliban for control of the northern province of Kunduz, where insurgents are threatening to overrun the capital and terrorising residents who have fled to nearby districts.

The battle for Kunduz, as politicians wrangle amid a deadlocked presidential election in the capital, has special significance for people on both sides: it was the Taliban’s last stronghold before the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance drove them out in 2001.

The fighting in Kunduz reflects a broader trend of insurgent attacks across the country involving hundreds of fighters at a time.

Most Western troops are due to leave Afghanistan after 13 years of fighting, leaving a security vacuum some fear the Taliban could quickly fill as Afghan security forces grapple with maintaining law and order on their own.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/flickr

19 Aug
Hundreds of Taliban fighters battle Afghan forces near Kabul: officials | AHMAD SULTAN
(Reuters) - As many as 700 heavily armed Taliban insurgents are battling Afghan security forces in Logar, a key province near the capital Kabul, local officials said on Tuesday, in a test of the Afghan military’s strength as foreign forces pull out of the country.
Militants have this summer mounted increasingly intensive assaults across several provinces, often involving hundreds of fighters, as the country braces to stand on it own feet militarily for the first time in nearly 13 years.
"There are some 700 of them and they are fighting Afghan forces for territorial control and they have also brought with them makeshift mobile (health) clinics," Niaz Mohammad Amiri, the provincial governor of Logar province, told Reuters by telephone.
The Taliban have dug-in in Logar, which lies about an hour’s drive south of Kabul, and nearby Wardak province to the west, in recent years. They have used the provinces - gateways to the capital - as launchpads for hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings on Kabul.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Royal Canadian Air Force Capt. Alexandre Cadieux/NATO/flickr

Hundreds of Taliban fighters battle Afghan forces near Kabul: officials | AHMAD SULTAN

(Reuters) - As many as 700 heavily armed Taliban insurgents are battling Afghan security forces in Logar, a key province near the capital Kabul, local officials said on Tuesday, in a test of the Afghan military’s strength as foreign forces pull out of the country.

Militants have this summer mounted increasingly intensive assaults across several provinces, often involving hundreds of fighters, as the country braces to stand on it own feet militarily for the first time in nearly 13 years.

"There are some 700 of them and they are fighting Afghan forces for territorial control and they have also brought with them makeshift mobile (health) clinics," Niaz Mohammad Amiri, the provincial governor of Logar province, told Reuters by telephone.

The Taliban have dug-in in Logar, which lies about an hour’s drive south of Kabul, and nearby Wardak province to the west, in recent years. They have used the provinces - gateways to the capital - as launchpads for hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings on Kabul.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Royal Canadian Air Force Capt. Alexandre Cadieux/NATO/flickr

12 Aug
Why a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan may be necessary | Adnan R. Khan
In a nation like Afghanistan, undergoing radical change, every decision seems to yield an array of what-if scenarios. Most recently, it was the Afghan presidential elections: What if the April 5 vote had produced a clear winner? Afghanistan might be celebrating the first popularly mandated transition of power in its history. Its new president would have signed the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S., prompting NATO to do the same and ensuring some level of stability for the near term.
Instead, two rivals emerged with no clear winner. One, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, is a Pashtun, Afghanistan’s main ethnic group, concentrated in the east and south of the country. The other, Abdullah Abdullah, is considered a Tajik (though technically, he is half-Pashtun as well), who represents Afghanistan’s Persian-speaking north and west. They duelled in a runoff vote on June 14, the result of which should have been clear and binding. It wasn’t. Instead of preparing for a historic presidential inauguration, Afghans are now facing yet more uncertainty and security struggles. This week, a man dressed as an Afghan soldier opened fire at a military base outside Kabul, killing a U.S. Army major-general and wounding 14.
What’s little known is just how close Afghanistan came to total disaster. In the lead-up to the runoff vote, campaigning took an ugly turn: appeals to ethnicity became more frequent, dangerously raising tensions. The runoff vote was marred with allegations of fraud. Abdullah in particular cried foul, and threatened to set up his own parallel government after preliminary results showed Ahmadzai in the lead by a significant margin.
FULL ARTICLE (Maclean’s)
Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein/flickr

Why a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan may be necessary | Adnan R. Khan

In a nation like Afghanistan, undergoing radical change, every decision seems to yield an array of what-if scenarios. Most recently, it was the Afghan presidential elections: What if the April 5 vote had produced a clear winner? Afghanistan might be celebrating the first popularly mandated transition of power in its history. Its new president would have signed the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S., prompting NATO to do the same and ensuring some level of stability for the near term.

Instead, two rivals emerged with no clear winner. One, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, is a Pashtun, Afghanistan’s main ethnic group, concentrated in the east and south of the country. The other, Abdullah Abdullah, is considered a Tajik (though technically, he is half-Pashtun as well), who represents Afghanistan’s Persian-speaking north and west. They duelled in a runoff vote on June 14, the result of which should have been clear and binding. It wasn’t. Instead of preparing for a historic presidential inauguration, Afghans are now facing yet more uncertainty and security struggles. This week, a man dressed as an Afghan soldier opened fire at a military base outside Kabul, killing a U.S. Army major-general and wounding 14.

What’s little known is just how close Afghanistan came to total disaster. In the lead-up to the runoff vote, campaigning took an ugly turn: appeals to ethnicity became more frequent, dangerously raising tensions. The runoff vote was marred with allegations of fraud. Abdullah in particular cried foul, and threatened to set up his own parallel government after preliminary results showed Ahmadzai in the lead by a significant margin.

FULL ARTICLE (Maclean’s)

Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein/flickr