Displaying items by tag: Afghanistan
Afghan leader Ghani's days numbered
AFGHAN President Ashraf Ghani arrived on June 25 in Washington on an official visit, leading a large delegation of officials, including Dr Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation; Amrullah Saleh, the first deputy president; Hamdullah Mohib, the national security adviser; and, a planeful of other officials.
He and Abdullah's meeting with President Joe Biden did not lead to any new decision and the United States president merely covered the familiar ground that America will continue to assist Afghanistan, but that the withdrawal plan announced last April remains on schedule.
The withdrawal is due to complete by Sept 11, 2021, a symbolic date, perhaps to suggest that the US military had accomplished its purpose of avenging the Sept 11, 2001, Twin Tower attacks.
The visit comes in the midst of worsening security situation in Afghanistan and increased Taliban insurgency, when much of the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces have already left. The withdrawal led the Taliban to believe that they have won the war and, therefore, in no need of further negotiation.
This was one of the Taliban's two original demands: withdrawal of the foreign forces, and implementation of syariah law. Their triumphant posture may also explain why they halted the Doha peace talks with the Afghan government and the scheduled peace conference in Istanbul as well, which was due to be held last April.
Ghani's leadership also suffers from a credibility deficit as he has not played his role well in the peace process in the past and has missed opportunities for bringing peace. The Afghan people and the Kabul government do not seem to be on the same page.
While the people want the foreign forces out, Ghani's regime sees its continuity in office linked to the foreign military presence. The people are eager for peace to end the four decades of war, but Ghani seems to want that on his own terms. Delays and disruptions in the Doha peace talks also raises questions that there are elements in Kabul that do not want peace.
When the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Kabul last April and presented a negotiated peace plan, Ghani declined to endorse it as it involved the formation of a transitional government to facilitate the peace process. Ghani announced, instead, that he can only be replaced through a general election.
Clearly another missed opportunity for peace on questionable grounds. People jokingly said Ghani is more interested in completing his second term in office than in bringing peace. He was apparently less than happy when the US (under Trump) negotiated with the Taliban first (and signed an agreement with them — in February 2020).
The Kabul government also suffers from internal disunity and weaknesses at a time when about 60 per cent of the country is under Taliban control. Even though this has so far not included provincial capitals nor a whole province and confined to the outlying areas and districts, that scenario is fast approaching. According to US intelligence reports, Ghani's government will most likely fall in less than six months of the foreign troop withdrawal.
Afghan analysts were furthermore critical of Ghani's June 26 speech at the US Congress. Afghanistan under Ghani has been witness to increased poverty and unemployment, widespread drug addiction, raging Taliban violence and worsening security situation. Kabul is no longer safe.
People are killed in broad daylight by gangsters and criminals and there is widespread suspicion that police corruption is a part of it. Ghani makes out that the country is doing well under him thanks to American help. Instead of engaging the Congress on ways to improve matters, he filled his speech with formalities and half-truths.
Ghani's main purpose was seeing if Washington would delay the withdrawal of its remaining forces. Here again, the Afghan people welcome the voluntary end to military occupation. Yet, since there is no political formula for peace, the troop withdrawal may leave a vacuum and increase the risk of a Taliban takeover.
The Afghan people are also apprehensive of Taliban rule, and suspect that they will roll back many gains of the past 20 years on democracy and people's rights. The Taliban renewed assertion that they are supportive of female education and people's rights is also seen less than credible.
Afghan political analysts thought that Ghani's expensive visit (the plane rental alone cost US$1,200,000 of public funds) to Washington was inopportune since the US had already announced their plan on force withdrawal and is not likely to change, and that Washington has probably also lost confidence in Ghani's leadership, indicated perhaps in a somewhat muted welcome ceremony on arrival and a mere half-hour time slot allocated for a meeting with Biden.
This turns out to be the case now that the visit is almost over and has led to no new decisions to what was already known before.
Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Tuesday 29 June 2021
Afghan peace now a waiting game
The Inter-Afghan Negotiations (IAN) that started last September between the Taliban and the Afghan government turns out to be a protracted waiting game.
The talks began due to great urgency and expectations of the Afghan people, who are eager to see the end of some four decade-long of devastating war with great hopes that the IAN will bring peace.
The Taliban had a two-point agenda: American and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) forces to leave Afghanistan, and implementation of syariah in the self-proclaimed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani asserts bringing peace to the war-torn country, but that he is the country's elected leader until his term ends in 2024. The Jamiyat Party of Afghanistan suggests that a transitional government takes over to facilitate peace.
Ghani's continuity almost certainly depends on the continued stay of American troops, currently at 5,000 (reduced from 100,000 deployed under the Obama administration), which is enough to deter a Taliban offensive.
Being under United States occupation, the realities are such that no significant decision is made in Kabul without American approval. The Afghan army is currently on the American payroll amounting to over US$5 billion per year, a sum that Kabul cannot pay from its own meagre budget.
The Doha talks have hitherto made no progress simply because all sides were awaiting the US presidential election results.
President Donald Trump has declared that the US troops will leave Afghanistan in near terms without specifying a date, but March has been mentioned as the target date. Now that he has lost the election, the waiting continues until the new president takes office. The Taliban are also waiting for renewed American assurance on the February 2020 agreement they signed with the Trump administration.
The Taliban have refused to sign a ceasefire agreement to pave the way for a peace pact, and have chosen the path of violence.
They have stepped up guerilla attacks against Afghan forces and caused heavy civilian casualties.
Prior to the February agreement, Taliban attacks on Afghan forces also invoked a US military response, which kept the violence within limits, but casualty rates had also become heavier since then. For over two months, the Doha talks between 21-member negotiating teams on each side were engaged in trivialities: What expressions they should be using at the talks and what should or should not be placed on the agenda.
The Taliban want their movement to be referred to as a legitimate jihad, and they refuse to refer to the Afghan government as an Islamic republic until Kabul accedes to their demand.
To call the Taliban's bloody raids on Afghan security forces a jihad would be suicidal for Kabul and generally unacceptable.
Yet the Taliban do have grassroots support, which may however be dwindling due to their belated killing sprees that have become particularly brutal under Mullah Hibatullah's leadership.
The Trump administration has not taken a clear stance on these raids although the US envoy for peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, had said that this degree of violence from the Taliban was not acceptable.
Protracted waiting with no clear end in sight may also raise a more sinister question: Do they (Taliban and the Afghan government) want peace?
If the US does not want peace, which is the understanding most Afghans seem to have, then those who are attached to them may also share the same attitude.
Moreover, the Taliban militarism and its suspected al-Qaeda links suggest that they most likely aim for a military takeover of Kabul and peace is not likely to deliver that prize.
The Kabul government has also missed opportunities for peace in recent months and a continuation of status quo is an option as it would likely prolong the American military presence.
Ghani's internal bickering with Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation chairman Dr Abdullah Abdullah has also led to indecision. Rumour has it that Dr Abdullah prioritises peace, whereas Ghani wants peace on his own terms.
The latter is also less than happy with the way the Taliban became the first party to sign an agreement with the Americans.
The Doha talks have yet to enter its proper agenda. It is uncertain but likely that the Taliban will take issue with the current constitution of Afghanistan with reference particularly to equality clauses for women and implementation of syariah. They also suggest that an ulama council be formed to take charge of implementing syariah.
Such demands will be met with resistance as prominent women leaders and civil society are critical of the Taliban's view on women. So, protracted negotiations are likely to continue, and may be more of the same with the waiting game. What remains to be said is that they all owe it to their conscience, country and people to drop petty delaying tactics and work sincerely for a peaceful Afghanistan.
Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Wednesday 09 December 2020
Iran deal: A possible game-changer for Afghanistan
Iran's nuclear agreement has created a political and geostrategic earthquake in the Middle East and beyond, including accelerating the reform movement within Iran and empowering democratic constituencies in the Islamic world. Liberated from external containment and internal suppression, Iran could now help itself, the region and the wider Islamic world towards greater prosperity, stability, and a pluralistic future. And Afghanistan will immensely benefit from the restoration of Iran's role as a responsible and secure neighbour and power. Afghanistan's landlocked geography has been compounded by its political isolation in the region. Among its seven neighbours, only its borders with Tajikistan remain relatively free of political tension............. Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
The Relationship Between Executive and Parliament and the Problem of Constitutional Interpretation and Adjudication During the Karzai Years
This article advances an enquiry into President Hamid Karzai’s (r. 2001-2014) constitutional legacy with special reference to relations between the executive and legislature during his presidency. Before engaging in that enquiry, a brief account is given in the introduction of the developments during the months following Karzai’s exit from office. What happened during this period tends to accentuate the unresolved issues of Karzai’s presidency and put Afghanistan’s commitment to constitutionalism to the test. The events of the past six months also point to the need for clarity regarding the status of constitutional interpretation and judicial review, two necessary ingredients of constitutionalism that ensure the conformity of laws and government action with the constitution. Dysfunctional executive-legislature relations and ambiguities over matters of interpretation have often meant that disagreement over issues did not find prompt and effective solutions.
This article is structured with an introduction and six sections. The introduction takes a look, as already mentioned, at the developments after Karzai left office. The first section discusses the presidential system Afghanistan has adopted under the 2004 Constitution, and the succeeding two sections address constitutional interpretation and the question as to who has the power to interpret the Constitution. Sections four and five are devoted to a discussion of judicial review, and the conflict of jurisdiction over who has the power of judicial review in Afghanistan respectively. The
last section looks into the parliamentary powers with special reference to the use of the noconfidence vote by the Wolesi Jirga. This article concludes with a brief reflection back on the post-Karzai developments, the hitherto unmet challenges over constitutional issues Afghanistan is faced with, and the way forward toward solutions.
................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Available in three languages; 1. English 2. Dari, 3. Pashto
Prof Kamali's Interview: Afghanistan's Prospective 'Unity' Government: A Test for the Constitution
The plan for a “unity government” in Afghanistan that includes both of the top presidential candidates will test the integrity of the country’s constitution, according to a legal scholar who was chairman of the commission that conducted public consultations for the final 2004 constitution. USIP Program Officer Lillian Dang interviews Mohammad Hashim Kamali, an influential expert on Islam and legal issues and a United Nations advisor on constitutional reform................Read the full interview at: United States Institute of Peace
Astonishing Pictures Of Afghanistan From Before The Wars
Before the U.S. invasion, before the Russian war, before the Marxist revolution, Afghanistan used to be a pretty nice place.
An astonishing collection of photos from the 1960s was recently featured by the Denver Post.
Amateur photographer, and college professor, Dr. William Podlich took a leave of absence from his job at Arizona State to work with UNESCO in Kabul, bringing his wife and daughters with him.
Later, son-in-law Clayton Esterson revived the later doctor's photos and put them on the web. The response was amazing.
Esterson told the Denver Post: “Many Afghans have written comments [on our website] showing their appreciation for the photographs that show what their country was like before 33 years of war. This makes the effort to digitize and restore these photographs worthwhile.”
...................click to Read More
From Kabul love affair to Afghanistan's first centre for study of its history
Nancy Hatch Dupree arrived in Kabul in 1962 as a diplomat's wife, blithely unaware that the great love of her life was waiting in a country that would become their shared passion and her home through decades of war and political turmoil. Half a century later she is opening Afghanistan's first centre dedicated to the study of its own history and society, picked over for decades by foreign academics but often hard for Afghan scholars to explore in their country...............Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
The West's War on the Muslim World: Killing is Winning
Ten years ago today the Bush regime invaded Iraq. It is known that the justification for the invasion was a packet of lies orchestrated by the neoconservative Bush regime in order to deceive the United Nations and the American people. The US Secretary of State at that time, General Colin Powell, has expressed his regrets that he was used by the Bush regime to deceive the United Nations with fake intelligence that the Bush and Blair regimes knew to be fake. But the despicable presstitute media has not apologized to the American people for serving the corrupt Bush regime as its Ministry of Propaganda and Lies.............Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Does Anyone in Congress Care? State of the Drones
President Obama is going to deliver the annual State of the Union address next Tuesday and if I were to make a wild guess, I’d say he’ll declare the union strong. The economy may be troubled, some people are facing challenges perhaps, but if history’s any guide the president will say the union is special, blessed by god and strong, and there will be applause, no matter that it couldn’t be less true............Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Uncertain endgame in Afghanistan
To the anxious question of what will happen to Afghanistan when foreign troops leave in 2014, Dr Abdul Qayum Mohmand had an unexpected answer. "Nothing will happen," the former University of Afghanistan assistant professor said. "Because nothing is happening now."
Before a somber seminar on the country's future in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, last week, Mohmand tried to lighten his pessimism by exaggerating for effect. But between the candour and humour of his chat at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia was a sorrow that could not be concealed by bluffness........ Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)