Elections, warlords and withdrawals

IssueSeptember 2009
News by Gabriel Carlyle

The Afghan presidential election on 20 July – the results of which may not be known until mid-September – has already received a fair amount of critical coverage in the British press.

The Times reported that a third or more of those registered to vote (including one “Britney Jamilia Spears” of Kandahar) probably didn’t exist, and that the run-up to the polls had “been characterised by horse-trading between the candidates and an array of warlords and power-brokers who promise[d] to deliver the votes of whole communities and ethnic blocks”, as well as threats from the Taliban.

Even more forthright in her criticism was Malalai Joya on 25 July in the Guardian. The courageous Afghan MP whose denunciation of the warlords, brought back to power with US assistance following the 2001 invasion, has resulted in repeated attempts to assassinate her as well as her suspension from parliament, said: “Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.…

“I don’t believe it is in your interests to see more young people sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers’ money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul....

“What’s more, I don’t believe it is inevitable that this bloodshed continues forever. Some say that if foreign troops leave, Afghanistan will descend into civil war. But what about the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.”

Topics: Afghanistan