In the controversy and protesting stirred up by Abdullah, what is missing is a calm review of today’s political landscape in Afghanistan. Javid Ahmad a Program Coordinator for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Ahmad Hemmat, a D.C.-based researcher and advisor to the chairman of International Energy Partnerships makes some powerful, obvious and clear points in Ashraf Ghani’s Secret to Success that I expand upon.
1) Dr. Ashraf Ghani and General Rashid Dostum built grass roots support networks. Many people forget that in the last election Dostum delivered over 40% of Karzai’s “clean” votes but ultimately Karzai denied the dozen seats Junbesh requested in exchange for their support. That support was built on promises to take a hard look at the constitution which was created to prevent the Taliban from getting popular votes and putting the executive power squarely in Karzai’s hands. Now minorities and majorities want regional government and more control over their local politics.
2) Dr Ghani and Dostum are not playing the race or tribal card. They are pushing for a bottom up, inclusive government that Karzai denied the country for over a decade. Ghani the intellectual , Dostum the old school deal maker and defeater of the Taliban…are the ideal combination for the difficult phase Afghanistan must face as it transitions from occupied kleptocracy to earnest democracy. Dr. Ghani and Dostum will be staunch supporters of U.S. and international support for the military and government. The long tired era of a leader trapped in his palace personally appointing all seniors positions without consultation is over.
3) Young Afghans are a massive voting block. They are not only influenced by Afghanistan’s vibrant media landscape but harnessed the power of social media to share opinions. The country is shifting to an urban culture where educated, English speaking Afghans are not afraid to go beardless, read western media and make their own decisions. What outsiders see among the youth in the North and South is what Americans and Afghns have fought for. They have also fought for and chosen their own government.
4) Many people forget that Abdullah’s tape recordings were from the FIRST vote and that the contenders who lost quickly pledged their voting support to the candidate who meets their criteria. Ghani and Dostum moved quickly to invite regions and players into the fold, dramatically increasing their support. The whispers of Iranian financial influence and old school gangster politics seemed to have escaped the Western media’s infatuation with Abdullah. He is a respected member of the political system due to his long association with Ahmed Shah Massoud but with the move to Dr Ghani, as leader, Afghanistan has now entered the modern era of political guidance.
So despite the attempts of Abdullah to sway international opinion with protests and threats, the people of Afghanistan are solidly behind the democratic election process. Because of Abdullah’s accusations of fraud, there are attempts to pull the decision out of the legal framework and force an ad hoc process. But my guess is that the Afghans will not stand for that. These two experts paint the most accurate snapshot of why two men who were not on the media or U.S government radar rose so “quickly” to take the leaderships position. Expect a number of backlash articles and more loud accusations of fraud…but in the end the clean votes will show that Ghani and Dostum won by popular vote.
American can relax. True democracy has come to Afghanistan.
Phi Beta Iota: Iranian money gave Abdullah, Attah, Saleh and their co-conspirators Karzai and Daudzai, a solid push toward fraudulently winning more votes than were actually cast for Abdullah in the primary election — combined with Dostom being seriously ill, and the spitting of the Pashtun vote, this provided a false positive for Abdullah that the Western media thoughtlessly embraced. That illusion vanished in the run-off, and Iran has walked away from their side deal (elements of the White House and the Department of State that were ready to throw democracy, Ghani, and Afghanistan under the bus in trade for a nuclear deal to be announced on 20 July). The nuclear deal is off, but elements of the US Government persist in trying to rig the election for their chosen favorite, Abdullah. At this time, it is the US Government that is interfering with the Afghan democratic process, not Iran. The Afghan process has been REMARKABLE, a triumph in the face of all odds.