Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Government and Politics

Afghanistan election ballot

Call for Timely and Credible Elections. Donor nations from the international community are encouraged by the progress being made in implementing reforms in the election system of Afghanistan. However the Election Support Group of Ambassadors warned that any changes in the electoral system at this stage would delay parliamentary and district council elections beyond 2018. (Tolo News, Mar 20, 2018).

Security Key to Safe Elections. During a visit to Afghanistan General Dunford (Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff) said that securing key areas of the country during the election will be the key to a successful, secure, and credible election. (AP, Mar 22, 2018).

Ghani Meeting with IEC. President Ghani recently chaired a special meeting with the Independent Election Commission, government agencies, and members of the international community for a session on the upcoming 2018 parliamentary elections. He said he that transparent elections was a top priority after security.

Governor Atta Noor Drama Resolved? It appears a deal has been struck between the Afghan president and Balkh province governor that has resolved a months-long conflict that has deeply affected the standing of the central government in Kabul. A number of political concessions were granted to Atta Noor. Read "Powerful Afghan governor defying President Ghani agrees to go", Reuters, March 22, 2018.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Government and Politics

Noor-Ghani Dispute. The dispute between President Ghani and Governor Noor has receded from the front pages but it is not likely over. Noor is positioning himself for a run for the presidency while Ghani tries to maintain his political apparatus for his re-election. The TAPI project, potential peace negotiations, and start of the fighting season have pushed the Noor-Ghani drama to the sidelines but it isn't over.

Turmoil Within Hizb-e Islami. The leaders of an Afghan Islamist political party are in a state of disagreement. Read "Leadership Divide Threatens Afghan Islamist Party", Gandhara,  March 14, 2018.

Mattis-Ghani Meeting. During his brief visit to Kabul Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited with a host of people to include Resolute Support leaders and staff, embassy personnel, and President Ghani. Not much news came out of the visit with Ghani. The U.S. once again affirms its support to the Afghan government and cautions the Taliban that peace negotiations is the only way to end the conflict.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Government and Politics

Political Crisis of NUG. Murid Partaw, an academic writer and researcher, writes about the continuing political crisis of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG). He calls for the implementation of electoral reforms that can ensure free, fair, and transparent elections in 2019. Partaw served as the AFG senior National Representative (SNR) to the US Central Command for four years. Read "Afghanistan Braces for Its Next Political Crisis"The National Interest, March 1, 2018.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Government and Politics in Afghanistan

Ghani vs. the Strongmen. President Ghani has met obstacle after obstacle in his efforts to establish an efficient, corruption free Afghan government. He has tried to thwart the efforts of the power elite in Afghan society but is meeting fierce resistance. Read more in "Afghanistan's fragile government picks a dangerous fight", The Economist, March 1, 2018.

Recognizing the Realities of Afghan Society.  "It is time for Afghanistan to become politically sustainable by decentralizing democracy outside of Kabul to the provinces". Abdul Waheed Ahmad, an Afghan Fulbright scholar at the State University of New York - Binghamton, provides a new direction to improve sub-national governance in Afghanistan. He previously worked with the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) and the Ministry of Interior (MoI). Read "A Weak State, but a Strong Society in  Afghanistan", War on the Rocks, February 27, 2018.

Olson's Views on Pakistan. Richard G. Olson - a career diplomat, former ambassador to Pakistan, and special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department - is interviewed about the U.S. - Pakistan relationship and the future of Pakistan's support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Read "Former Envoy Offers a Candid Appraisal of U.S. - Pakistan Ties", Gandhara, February 27, 2018.

The Debate on Alternative Political Systems in Afghanistan. The Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) are publishing a series of papers on changing aspects of the Afghan political system.

Gov Noor's Big Rally Cancelled. The former governor of the northern Balkh province had planned a huge rally for Kabul but now it appears that is on hold. Noor contends that the rally would interfere with the upcoming Kabul Process meeting. Read more in "Ata Mohammad Noor suspends major rally plan for Kabul city", Khaama Press, February 25, 2018.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Governance and Politics in Afghanistan

Corruption in Afghanistan. Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Afghanistan as the 4th most corrupt country in the world, trailing only Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia. See "Afghanistan Ranked 4th Most Corrupt Country For this Year", Tolo News, February 22, 2018.

2nd Provincial Governor Refused to Leave. President Ghani's office approved and announced the appointment of new heads for five provinces - including Samangan in the north. Samangan is just south of Balkh province. The current governor, Abdul Karim Khedam, refused to leave his post - becoming the second governor to resist removal. See "Another Provincial Governor Defies Dismissal Orders from Afghan President", Voice of America, February 18, 2018. But . . . eventually he stepped aside. (Khaama Press, Feb 20, 2018).

Dostum Speaks from "Abroad". First Vice President Dostum is still in Turkey (going on six months). He recently weighed in on current events in Afghanistan. "Dostum Makes Suggestions To Govt Despite Being in Exile", Tolo News, February 22, 2018.

E-Tazkera Crisis. Afghanistan is dividing along ethnic and political lines over the issuing of an electronic identity card. The main debate centers on ethnicity. Members of the Tajic, Hazara, Uzbec and other ethnic groups are opposing the use of the world "Afghan" on the ID card. They contend that "Afghan" denotes "Pashtun". The Pashtun ethnic group says that it refers to all the people of Afghanistan. Read an excellent examination of the issue in "The E=Tazkera Rift: Yet another political crisis looming?", Afghanistan Analyst Network (AAN),  February 22, 2018.

ACJC Criticized. The Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center is coming under fire. While it has arrived at a number of court decisions - the implementation of those decisions are ignored. In addition, it has failed to tackle major cases of corruption. "ACJC Critized As It Struggles to Fight Corruption", Tolo News, February 21, 2018.

2018 Elections in Peril? There are doubts about whether Afghanistan will be able to conduct its parliamentary elections in the summer of 2018. The Japanese are giving $13 million USD in aid to help in the conduct of the elections. While the Afghan government says it will run the elections for parliament and district councils there are many observers that say it won't happen. Read "UNAMA Chief Says Elections Must Be Held As Scheduled", Tolo News, February 21, 2018.

President Ghani Profiled. Ihsanullah Omarkhail (a writer on foreign policy, peace, state building, terrorism, etc.) provides a glowing assessment of President Ashraf Ghani in "Afghanistan: President Ghani's Concept of National Issues", Eurasia Review, February 18, 2018.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Politics and Governance in Afghanistan

National ID Debate. President Ashraf Ghani is ready to roll out implementation of the national identification card for all Afghans. However, the Chief Executive Officer - Abdullah Abdullah is resisting. The controversy is all about the word "Afghan" on the identity card - sometimes referred to as "E-ID" or "E-NIC". Some ethnic groups don't want to be called "Afghan". Unfortunately, use of the electronic ID is considered instrumental for the upcoming 2018 parliamentary elections - which may or may not happen.

Supporting Warlords. Lt. Gen. Abdul Raziq is the head of the Afghan National Police in Kandahar province. That is his official role . . . but he is much more. A valuable ally of the U.S. that has a handle on the insurgency in his province - but also a 'strongman', 'warlord', "political leader", and much more. However, he comes with some baggage and is a favorite target of the international human rights crowd. Read "Impunity for U.S.-Funded Warlords in Afghanistan", by Katherine Hawkins (investigator for the Project on Government Oversight), Just Security, February 16, 2018.

Feud between Ghani and Noor. President Ghani has fired Governor Noor (Balkh province) but Noor refuses to leave office. Many observers believe Noor is setting himself up for a run at the Presidency in 2019. There are many perspectives to this political fight - Governor Noor gives us his in "The View From Balkh: how to fix the dysfunctional system in Afghanistan", TRT World, February 15, 2018.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Afghan Governance and Politics

Parliamentary Elections Delayed? The ability of the Afghan government to conduct a national election that is secure, on schedule, and corruption free appears to be far in the future. Despite having conducted a number of country-wide elections the Afghans still are suffering growing pains. Apparently, the parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-2018 will be delayed at least three months. If not held in the fall then the election date will slip to mid-2019. See "Afghanistan parliament elections likely delayed until October", Reuters, February 4, 2018.

Elections and Electronic Identity Cards. A very expensive plan to issue new electronic identity cards ahead of the parliamentary elections to be held in Afghanistan in mid-summer 2018 is raising political tension. Leading figures in some ethnic groups are rejecting the term "Afghan" on the ID card. The term 'Afghan' is closely associated with 'Pashtun'; and other ethnic groups (Tajiks, Hazara, Uzbeks, and others) are taking exception to it. The ID cards, known as e-Tazkira, are viewed as important in the electoral process - a step to avoid fraud in the parliamentary elections for 2018 and presidential elections for 2019. Read more in "Who is an Afghan? Row over ID cards fuels ethnic tension",, February 8, 2018.

Warlords and Governance. The Afghan government is by all accounts - very dysfunctional. One of the factors causing major problems in Afghan governance is the influence of powerful warlords. A seminar on this topic will be held in Norway in March 2018. (Prio).

Gov Noor for President? Atta Mohammad Noor was fired by President Ghani from his job as governor of Balkh province - but he still occupies the office while his appointed replacement works from an office in Kabul. Noor is using the political crisis to position himself for a run for the presidency in the 2019 presidential elections. (Daily Mail, Feb 5, 2018).

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Afghan Governance and Politics

Governor Atta Mohammad Noor

Governor Atta Noor Saga. The months-long stand-off continues in northern Afghanistan with the former governor issuing threats and a 'final warning'. Read "Noor's Signature Still Credible in Balkh", Tolo News, January 29, 2018.

Political Showdown. Scott DesMarais and Caitlin Forrest examine the power play between President Ghani and Governor (ex?) Atta Noor in Afghanistan Political Showdown Between Ashraf Ghani and Mohammad Atta Noor, Institute for the Study of War, February 1, 2018.

Corruption . . . "The Never Ending Afghan Story". Read a recent story that illustrates how money for development projects simply disappears in Afghanistan. An example of corruption at the sub-governance level. Now multiply it by 1,000 instances happening every year. "Afghanistan: The Town That Never Was", Institute for War & Peace Reporting, January 2018.

U.S. Dep Sec DoS Visits Afghanistan. Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan Visits Afghanistan, U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, January 30, 2018. Held meetings with President Ghani, CEO Abdullah, Foreign Minister Rabbani, and other government leaders. Read his remarks made on his visit while in Kabul (U.S. Dept of State, Jan 30, 2018).

The Governance Problems. While Pakistan is a major headache for Afghanistan with its support of the Afghan Taliban - the Afghans themselves are now helping out. Afghanistan has a huge governance problem. Ahmad Mohibbi explains in "Beyond Pakistan, Afghanistan's Most Serious Problem is Governance", The Diplomat, February 2, 2018.

Vice President Dostum Under Fire. Afghanistan's First Vice President - General Abdul Rashid Dostum - will have his record of alleged criminal activity reviewed by the International Criminal Court. Dostum is currently living in Turkey (under some form of political exile).  (Khama Press, Feb 3, 2018).

Ghani Gets Tough with Pakistan. Afghanistan's president recently called out Pakistan for its support of the Taliban. Read "Afghan President Calls Pakistan 'Center of the Taliban'", Gandhara, February 2, 2018.

Parliamentary Elections in 2018. Will Afghanistan be Ready? Afghanistan's method of registering voters to participate in elections is broken. In July 2018 the nation will conduct parliamentary elections; but the new voter registration process is not yet in place. An article by Staffan Darnolf explains the difficulties associated with voter registration and conducting a fair election in Afghanistan in "Afghan Elections: Will the Voter Registry Be  Ready for 2018?", United States Institute for Peace (USIP), January 26, 2018.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hagel to Stay as Secretary

Rumors that Secretary of Defense Hagel is on the way out to be replaced by Michelle Flournoy are not true (according to the DoD). Read more in "Pentagon Denies Rumors Hagel On His Way Out", DoD Buzz, November 8, 2014.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Afghan Warlords and Democracy

A recent article provides us with an alternative and "kinder" view of warlords in Afghanistan. The author refers to the interaction of warlords within Afghanistan's political environment as "Warlord-Democracy Nexus" - a transition of warlords from fighters to politicians. The author shows us that the warlords provided a useful function in the early formation of the Afghan state post-2001. These warlords, typically based on regional and ethnic lines, provided support to the early Karzai regime. Afghanistan is a country used to de-centralized power and regional power brokers; early support from these regional power brokers ensured the weak central government could survive. One example provided is the warlord Rashid Dostum, who was chosen by President Ghani to be one of his vice-presidents. Dostum is an Uzbek warlord from northern Afghanistan who has wielded power of great importance over the past twenty years. Read more in "Afghanistan: Warlords and Democracy", The Diplomat, October 26, 2014.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Failed States Index - Afghanistan #7

Good News! Afghanistan is not the "most failed state" in the world; although it does come in on top ten. The country may be the 1st (sometimes 2nd) most corrupt nation in the world but it seems to be considered less fragile than 6 other countries. The nations that beat out Afghanistan are:

1. South Sudan
2. Somalia
3. Central African Republic
4. Democratic Republic of Congo
5. Sudan
6. Chad

Quite an achievement. So the the corrupt Afghan government leaders may be the world's most corrupt but at least there are several African countries that are more "fragile"! All those lives and billions of dollars we have spent have really brought Afghanistan out of the 14th century and into the . . . well, maybe . . . um . . .  15th century. You can view rankings of the most failed states on Foreign Policy at the following link:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ron Paul Comments on Afghanistan

Ron Paul, a former Congressman and Presidential candidate, has provided us with his thoughts on the Afghan War in "The real status of forces in Afghanistan and Iraq", Daily News Opinion, October 8, 2014.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Dispiriting Report on Afghanistan

A writer provides some insight into the difficulties of understanding Afghanistan. See "Statism fails in Afghanistan, too", The Washington Times, November 25, 2010.