No matter who is ultimately certified as the winner of Afghanistan’s presidential election, the vote was plagued by so much fraud and violence, and had such low turnout, that it is inconceivable the Afghan people will regard the victor as a legitimate leader. And if a majority of Afghans do not consider the president and his government to be legitimate, the military campaign now being waged by the United States and its allies is doomed to fail, regardless of the number of troops deployed.
Current discussions about cobbling together mistrustful factions into a new power-sharing government will produce neither enduring democracy nor short-term peace. The slate must be wiped clean. Afghans need to start again from scratch and choose their leader by a fresh process that restores legitimacy to the national government.
Fortunately, such a process already exists — one that is both highly respected by the Afghan people and recognized in the Afghan Constitution: the convening of an emergency loya jirga, or grand assembly. The loya jirga has been called in times of national crisis in Afghanistan for centuries. In 1747, such an assembly in Kandahar selected Ahmad Shah Durrani as the first king of Afghanistan, uniting a patchwork of contentious tribal entities into the modern Afghan state. The loya jirga, moreover, is not only deeply rooted in Pashtun tradition, but is also consistent with notions of Western representative democracy. [continued…]
The leading Senate Democrat on military matters said Thursday that he was against sending more American combat troops to Afghanistan until the United States speeded up the training and equipping of more Afghan security forces.
The comments by the senator, Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, illustrate the growing skepticism President Obama is facing in his own party as the White House decides whether to commit more deeply to a war that has begun losing public support, even as American commanders acknowledge that the situation on the ground has deteriorated.
Senator Levin’s comments, made in an interview and in the draft of a speech he will deliver Friday, are significant because his stature on military matters gives him the ability to sway fellow lawmakers, and his pivotal committee position provides a platform for vetting Mr. Obama’s major decisions on troops. [continued…]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she sees little congressional support for boosting troop levels in Afghanistan, putting the Democratic majority in Congress on a possible collision course with the Obama administration over the future conduct of the war there.
The remarks Thursday by Ms. Pelosi (D., Calif.) make her the highest-ranking Democrat to signal opposition to the administration’s handling of the Afghan war, a top national-security priority.
The remarks also underscored the increasingly complex political dynamics confronting President Barack Obama as he considers whether to send additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan. [continued…]
One of Afghanistan’s most powerful warlords has defended the popular right to protest against the presidential election results, raising fears that the country could be engulfed by violence if supporters of the losing candidates reject the poll as being rigged.
General Atta Mohammad Nur, who broke ranks with the Government to support President Karzai’s main election rival, insisted: “It is the right of our people to defend their votes. Demonstrations, gatherings, strikes and protests against fraud being carried out by the current system are the absolute right of the people.”
Speaking on national television, he accused the country’s Interior Minister, Hanif Atmar, of “forcing people to keep silent”. [continued…]