Is Hamid Karzai a threat to Afghanistan’s government?
Uncertainty and political drama has surrounded the current government of Afghanistan
Billions of dollars have been spent and many foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan during the war on terror. The international community has committed itself to stabilizing Afghanistan with the aim of installing a sound democracy and a sense of stability that will benefit Afghans and the world.
Now, 15 years after the fall of the Taliban, the current Unity Government of Afghanistan has failed to improve security and the economic situation and now finds itself on shaky ground.
Uncertainty and political drama has surrounded the current government of Afghanistan regarding the agreement between the two political leaders reached on September 29, 2014.
The two rival candidates during the 2014 presidential elections, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, wouldn’t give up the claim that they won the election.
International reports alleged that the results were fraudulently tipped in favor of Ghani but the complexity of having a fresh election left power sharing as the only option.
After the interference of the United States, the Unity Government of Afghanistan appointed Asharf Ghani as the president and Dr. Abdullah as the government chief executive.
Making constitutional changes
When this agreement was signed, the unity government was obligated to form a Loya Jirga (Grand Council) with the presence of the country’s influential tribal leaders who were tasked with making constitutional changes.
The deadline for making the constitutional changes is September 29, 2016, which according to many political activists in Afghanistan, means that after that date, the continuation of the Unity Government will come into question.
The power struggle between the president and the government chief executive hasn’t left any room for social and political improvementsCamelia Entekhabi-Fard
The power struggle between the president and the government chief executive hasn’t left any room for social and political improvements.
On July 23, a twin bombing hit Deh Mazang square in Kabul when the Enlightenment Movement protesters, mostly from the Hazara ethnic group, were targeted. Not a month has passed without a report of an explosion that has killed and maimed ordinary Afghans while the war with the Taliban in the southern areas of Nangehar, Orozghan and Kundoz is continuing.
Parliament’s five-year term expired in June 2015, but elections were postponed because of security fears and disagreements on how to ensure a fair vote after the election. The date President Ghani has set for the next parliamentary election – in October 2016 - will likely come and go with no change and this raises questions about the current parliament’s validity and legal power.
The main threat?
Some observers see former President Hamid Karzai as the main threat to the current government and although Dr. Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani dislike each other, it seems the two will band together to remain in power and prevent the return of Karzai.
There are fears that Karzai could mobilize influential tribal leaders to discharge the Unity Government and to form a transitional government headed by himself.
A source close to Karzai told me, on condition of anonymity, that the US (which Karzai does not favor) was pressing Karzai to sign a document promising he wouldn’t use his influence to discharge the Unity Government by the Loya Jirga. In serval interviews, Karzai has denied any plans to run in future elections.
It’s clear to me that over the past two years, Ghani has increased his power and Dr. Abdullah has lost support. Dr. Abdullah’s status is set to expire on September 29 but he always has the authority to issue a decree and extend his position for another three years, in conjunction with the remainder of the Unity Government’s term.
The choice is difficult – should he remain in a post which doesn’t give him any power and authority or resign and become a strong opposition leader and ready himself for the next election?
At this stage, it seems that the real threat to the Unity Government is Hamid Karzai’s increasing influence and popularity.
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