Five days before it was set to take place, Afghan officials have canceled
the Afghanistan presidential run-off election. Current president Hamid
Karzai, whose theft of the initial August election was the entire rationale
for the runoff
will remain president. The cancellation comes after challenger Abdullah
Abdullah dropped out on Sunday, citing concerns that the runoff would
be just as fraudulent as the first election. Karzai has publicly plead
for Abdullah to rejoin the election, although U.S.
officials supported the cancellation. As President Obama prepares to
declare the long-term U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Karzai's legitimacy problem
and government corruption
will continue to plague American policymakers.
- Power-Sharing Coalition Unlikely The Spectator's Daniel Korski explains
that the necessary good-will between Karzai and Abdullah has
evaporated. "If this looked like a good idea a few weeks ago, the shine
off the wheeze. For Karzai had to be dragged kicking and screaming
towards a run-off and none of the changes needed to make this poll a
little more fair -- and allowed Abdullah to leave the race -- have been
implemented," he writes. "But President Karzai has refused to make even
this modest concession to fairness."
- 'Win-Win' Coalition for U.S. Mac McCallister argues,
via Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks, that this is a "win-win for the
U.S." He thinks Karzai will remain president but with Abdullah granted
a role in the government, thus promoting the government's legitimacy
with no change in governance. McCallister writes, "The Pashtun Karzai
is still the front-man in this charade... In the
meantime all will send delegates to Abdullah Abdullah to talk him off
the ledge... The negotiations to keep Abdullah Abdullah in the game
will be interpreted by all that Abdullah Abdullah has both credibility
and legitimacy. In the end.. Abdullah Abdullah's faction will be
offered a greater share of the spoils."
- Abdullah Won't Accept Cabinet Position Juan Cole dismisses the possibility. "It seems to me unlikely, since Abdullah is accusing his rival in
the country's presidential contest, Hamid Karzai, of having attempted
to steal the Aug. 20 election, and of running interference for corrupt
members of the electoral commission. The reason Abdullah gave for
pulling out of the race, that the elections were not going to be
conducted transparently, is more of a thunderous condemnation than a
coy offering of himself as a cabinet member. Still, Euronews also notes that Abdullah has not ruled out playing a role in a national unity government."
Corruption Will Worsen The Guardian warns
that backing Karzai will only further entrench the government's
disastrous corruption. "The idea that he might now accept anything
other than token
oversight into the corrupt working of his government is fanciful in the
extreme.It is high time that Washington realised that Mr
Karzai's interests are not its own and that yesterday's political
outcome is the worst possible one on which to base a decision to send
more troops," they write. "With Mr Karzai back in power [reform] will
never happen, and British and US
troops will be dragged even deeper into a mission that has lost its
Only Afghan Military Can Save Afghanistan The New York Times's David Sanger suggests
that, with an illegitimate Karzai presidency, the military may be our
only recourse. "Even Mr. Obama's most limited goals require a
in Kabul, one with the authority to manage the army and to rebuild an
incompetent and corrupt police force. It also needs the ability to
install competent governors and spend Western aid effectively," he
writes. "And in the end, that force — an Afghan Army that can be
defend the central government — is Mr. Obama’s route out of the
country. If that army emerges as a trusted one in Afghanistan, able to
control significant areas of the country with the cooperation of the
local tribal leaders, Mr. Obama may be able to declare that the country
cannot again be overrun by militants."
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