This morning, with two days to go, the BBC uncovered evidence of massive Afghan election fraud. Why are we not surprised? Leaving aside the fact that Thus reported this ‘possibility’ back in April, and again yesterday (see previous post) there have been several telltale signs that the promoters of Democracy Inc. are prepared to turn an expedient blind eye to ‘irregularities’ in order to defend the indefensible. John J Kelly.
President Karzai failed to turn up for the ‘historic’ first live TV election debate last month, lauded as a sign of Afghanistan’s political maturity, leaving his two main challengers at the time, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, former finance minister, to largely agree that corruption and extreme lack of governance were the root cause of the country’s problems, not to mention over 30 years of foreign occupation, civil war and insurgency. Yesterday, Karzai attended a TV debate, sponsored by Radio Free Europe. This time, leading contender Abdullah was a no-show, leaving Ghani and former planning minister and popular underdog Ramazan Bashardost to belabour the incumbent with allegations of corruption. Karzai repeated his claims that he had ’saved Afghanistan’ and blamed its problems on the Taliban and the presence of occupying forces, while claiming that, once re-elected, he would convene ‘a grand council, or loyal jirga and other militant islamic groups, to try and negotiate a peace deal.’ (Washington Post).
His ace card is the ’surprise’ return from exile in Turkey of ‘ex-warlord’ General Abdul Rashid Dostum. The former Soviet communist won 10 per cent of the 2004 vote, and leads the Uzbeck minority in the north, where much of Abdullah’s (Tajik) support emanates. In return for a position in the next Karzai administration, he has urged his followers to vote for Karzai and ‘avoid a runoff at all costs.’ His endorsement could neutralise the threat from Abdullah, whom some polls have given as much as a 25% share compared to Karzai’s 40%. (In passing, the ‘polls’ are about as reliable as the election process, in a country where the Taliban have threatened death to voters). The reappearance of Dostum, who changed sides several times in the tribal wars of the 1990s prior to the Taliban government, emphasises the danger and inherent instability of Karzai’s dependence on dark forces to ensure his victory. ‘Aleem Siddique, a U.N. spokesman in Kabul, said Afghanistan “needs more competent politicians and fewer warlords.” A U.S. official said Washington had made its concerns clear to the Afghan government, and Dostum’s reputation “raised questions of his culpability for massive human rights violations.” (Reuters).
As another Kabul car bomb killed 5, including two members of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and rockets were allegedly fired at the presidential palace, NATO occupying forces and the UN have conceded that ‘more than 10%’ of polling stations will be unable to function because of the security threat. Ballot papers are on sale, in bulk, to the highest bidder, dangerous criminals have been released from gaol in return for their votes and just about the only thing all parties, Taliban included, are agreed upon is that they want the freedom of Afghan self-determination. A version of ‘democracy,’ imposed by occupying foreign military forces stands no logical chance of halting the cycle of violence, corruption and tribal and ethnic conflict. Yet only yesterday US President Obama repeated his pledge to increase the number of troops on the ground in a conflict which has now cost over 25% of the Iraq war, and stands even less chance of resolution by belligerent occupation.
The recent elections in Iran were clearly riddled with voting irregularities, fraud and intimidation, leading to street protests and several deaths. They were widely and rightly condemned by ‘The West’ as illegal and ‘undemocratic.’ Before a vote has been cast in Afghanistan, we have already seen more deaths, undeniable evidence of outrageous corruption and yet our politicians and the UN are craving the indulgence that ‘any election is better than no election.’ No it’s not. Afghanistan, Obama’s ‘War of Necessity‘ has already become his Vietnam. This horror show election should not be taking place on these flawed terms and allowing to be used as a vehicle to give Hamid Karzai a mandate to plunge the country further into klepocracy and anarchy is giving the Taliban and the Four Horsemen a mandate for a second term.