This week, the most senior U.S. official working with the United Nations in Afghanistan went on “leave” out of frustration over the lack of response to fraud in the country’s presidential election. The head of the European Union’s election-monitoring commission said that as many as one-third of the votes President Hamid Karzai received were “suspect” and should be investigated. And Afghans themselves continue to criticize not just the controversial election, but also the government’s response to it. If this continues, it will fatally undermine the next Afghan government and the efforts of its international supporters. Steps should be taken immediately to avert a potentially violent legitimacy crisis.
We observed Afghanistan’s Aug. 20 presidential and provincial council elections in Kabul. Among us we have almost seven decades of experience in following Afghan politics, and we feel thoroughly alarmed by the lack of consensus on how to resolve the brewing crisis over the disputed elections. It is by now clear that there took place an industrial-scale effort to distort the election results and defraud the Afghan people. Should this effort succeed, the chance of the Barack Obama administration’s stabilizing Afghanistan and the broader region will be grim indeed. No one should be in any doubt as to the gravity and explosiveness of the situation. [continued…]
The CIA is deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence “surge” that will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history, U.S. officials say.
When complete, the CIA’s presence in the country is expected to rival the size of its massive stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. Precise numbers are classified, but one U.S. official said the agency already has nearly 700 employees in Afghanistan.
The influx parallels the U.S. military expansion and comes as the nation’s spy services are under pressure from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal to improve intelligence on the Taliban and find ways to reverse a series of unsettling trends. [continued…]