While international media focus on the political and diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States, especially after the phone call between Presidents Obama and Rowhani, and the scenarios for reaching an agreement regarding peace talks in Syria, no one is paying much attention to Afghanistan. For many years, Afghanistan made headlines in newspapers around the world. This is surprising as there is an important event in Afghanistan within the next few months. In the next six months, the presidential elections will take place and President Karzai will not be able to run for his position again, so there will definitely be a new president for the first time since the international invasion and the transition to democracy.
Despite the long years of international forces fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan, they were not able to eradicate it. Global jihad was launched from this country, and from Pakistan, to spread terrorism in many parts of the world. Afghanistan never became a safe country, rather, it turned into the center of international terrorism and the opium trade. The term of President Karzai was a total failure and members of his government reached record levels in corruption.
President Karzai refused to sign a security agreement with the United States at a time when Afghanistan is heading towards important elections and the U.S. forces are expected to withdraw at the beginning of 2014. Security is very important when it comes to holding elections in a country where the Taliban still wields control of some areas, and clashes between insurgents and Afghan government forces have become a daily matter. In light of this deteriorating security situation, the number of Afghan citizens who will be able to participate in the voting during the upcoming elections is unknown.
Unfortunately, we may witness the assassination of influential people and interrupted elections in the next few monthsCamelia Entekhabi-Fard
Karzai seemed confident when he promised the Afghans that the elections would be held on time, but what kind of elections should be expected in Afghanistan? And why did the world suddenly decide to disregard this country and leave it alone?
Maybe President Hamid Karzai, who is the unknown brother of Qayyum Karzai, wants his sibling to run for the upcoming elections especially since the shift in global attention away from his country is a gift from heaven. With the absence of the international community’s attention to supervise and control the elections, it is easy for the supporters of the Afghan president to make the required changes to ensure the victory of the current president’s brother, or anyone close to him, at least in the next election.
At a time when he was supposed to come to New York to attend the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, President Karzai went to China in an attempt to gain Chinese support for his brother’s nomination for the presidency of Afghanistan. But why China? Chinese companies got major and significant contracts in the field of gas, oil and copper mines. China has also invested billions of dollars in projects in Afghanistan that provides a good market for Chinese cheap goods. So, the Afghan presidential election is important for the Chinese who are interested in knowing who has the highest chances of winning. The victory of President Karzai’s brother – who is currently a supporter of Chinese investment – is for sure the best choice for Chinese companies on many levels.
Vetting the potential presidential candidates in Afghanistan is annoying the international community and the Afghan people. The only registered candidate who has some credibility with the people and the international community is Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the opposition leader who was a strong contender against Hamid Karzai in the last presidential elections. Most Afghan politicians collected huge fortunes in recent years, thanks to U.S. aid and political corruption within Afghanistan. As for the former Mujahedeen leaders who made large sums of money, most of them have not completed their education and do not have any experience in the management field. Yet, they are dreaming about the presidency more than anyone else because of their wealth and influence.
As a journalist and observer, I was shocked when I heard the names of the candidates running for the presidency in Afghanistan. Karzai’s presidency was all this time some kind of coincidence that Karzai exploited through his friendship with Zalmay Khalilzad, who was the U.S. presidential envoy for Afghanistan, and then the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan. The great support provided by Khalilzad was not a secret.
Afghanistan is still a poor and underdeveloped country that some would not believe exists in the 21st century; this is why money and criminal gangs can easily help people like President Karzai’s brother, or other corrupt candidates, to achieve their goal. Unfortunately, we may witness the assassination of influential people and interrupted elections in the next few months. The Afghan people are probably hoping for a miracle to create real, clean, politicians who can lead Afghanistan into the future.
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard