Posts Tagged ‘failure’

LUTTE POUR LA SURVIE de Karzaï en Afghanistan: l’ampleur réelle de la fraude électorale, les chances d’Abdullah, et la réponse de Washington

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

L’OBSERVATEUR INCISIF

Publié le 24 octobre, 2009
Traduit de l’anglais du 16 octobre, 2009

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Si la Commission des plaintes électorales en Afghanistan est susceptible de décider que Karzai a remporté 47% des bulletins de vote et Abdullah a gagné 28% au premier tour des élections le 20 août, pourquoi aurait Karzaï tant lutté pour éviter un second tour?

Serait-ce que l’ECC a utilisé un échantillonnage statistique très limmité des résultats des élections du 20 août, qui a conduit a l’éxamen des bureaux de vote qui représentent seulement les cas les plus flagrants de fraude, ainsi laissant sous-estimer largement l’étendue réelle de la fraude, et par conséquent la possibilité de que Karzaï peuve
effectivement être battu par Abdullah dans un second tour?

Si cela était vrai, cela expliquerait l’opposition farouche de Karzaï à la tenue d’un second tour de scrutin, car un run-off pourrait effectivement donner une majorité de voix et la présidence à Abdullah, qui aboutirait à une remise arrachant du pouvoir, avec la perte concomitante d’emplois, d’influence et de favoritisme pour Karzaï et ses partisans.

Comment les États-Unis, l’OTAN et l’Organisation des Nations Unies réagissent pour gérer la crise qui éclatera dans le cas où Kazaï rechignerait d’acccepter les conclusions de la ECC aura un impact décisif sur la légitimité du prochain gouvernement. Cette semaine, la personne nommée à l’ECC par Karzaï a démissionné, affirmant d’abusives pressions étrangères contre la Commission. Les déclarations de l’Ambassadeur Áfghran aux États-Unis, en disant q’un deuxième tour était probable, aurait été interprété par plusieurs comme un signe de que Karzaï accepterait un second tour. Aujourd’hui, pourtant, des déclarations faites par les autorités de Kaboul suggèrent que la réponse de M. Karzaï est encore dans l’air.

La stratégie des Etats-Unis paraît être cela de pressioner à Abdullah pour accepter un accord pour se joindre à un gouvernement de coalition dans lequel Karzaï restera à la barre. Sinon, pourquoi serait-il nécessaire pour les membres de l’OTAN de déclarer comme ils l’ont fait récemment qu’ils croyaient Karzaï serait le gagnant dans un second tour, et pourquoi s’auraiat-elle sentie le Secrétaire d’État Clinton le besoin de affirmer, vendredi, que Karzaï serait le probable gagnant dans un second tour? Les États-Unis ont apparemment fait pression sur Abdullah dès les premiers jours après les élections du 20 aoút. Les autorités américaines n’ont guère agi dans le noir, parce que les services de renseignements américaines auraient sûrement une idée plus précise de l’ampleur de la fraude que même celle des chiffres rapportés par l’ECC, ceux qui devraient être publiés dans quelques jours.

Par ailleurs, à quoi faire se trouve-t-il l’ancien ambassadeur américain Zalmay Khalilzad à Kaboul? L’ambassadeur américain à Kaboul de 2003-2005, M. Khalilzad a été candidat pour un poste conjuré de «Premier ministre» de l’Afghanistan sous Karzaï dans la période précédant les élections, une possibilité qui s’est prouvée illusoire. Est-ce qu’il agit de sa propre entreprise? S’il agit pour l’administration Obama, il serait intéressant de connaître sa tâche. Est-ce pour tirer le fer hors de l’incendie pour Karzaï, ou quelque chose d’autre? Espérons qu’il y ait plus à lui que l’improvisation désespérée, et il faut espérer de même qu’il reflète quelque chose en plus que le désarroi politique américaine à Washington lors d’une phase très critique dans nos relations avec l’Afghanistan.

Pourquoi la Presse n’a-t-elle vraiment investigué jusqu’au fond dans tout cela, au lieu de résumer simplement les opinions de différents responsables des États-Unis et de l’OTAN, avec les observations d’un ou d’un autre expert universitaire jetées la dedans pour faire bonne mesure?

Dans un bulletin d’informations à la télévision la semaine dernière, un homme de la rue à Kaboul a fait observer que l’OTAN était contre Abdullah, de sorte que celui ne pouvait pas gagner la présidence. Sa déclaration a sonné vraie. De telles déclarations devront être inquiétantes pour ceux qui craignaient que les États-Unis peuvent être aperçus par les Afghans comme une force occupante et qui en tant veut imposer sa volonté sur le peuple de l’Afghanistan. N’est-il pas le temps maintenant pour une revision d’urgence de notre politique envers le gouvernement Karzaï, avec une vue vers l’action décisive dans les prochains jours? Au cours la crise des missiles de Cuba en 1962, il est utile de rappeler, le Président John F. Kennedy n’était pas engagé dans un examen des politiques de grand envergure, mais plutôt utilisait son Comité exécutif pour l’aider à décider comment faire face à de navires soviétiques portant de missiles chargés qui, dans un premier moment descendaient sur Cuba, et dans un second puis directement sur les navires américains bloquent leur chemin.

L’examen de la politique en Afghanistan conduit par le président Obama est précieux et doit continuer, mais le président a besoin de se concentrer maintenant sur les navires qui descendent sur nous et l’Afghanistan dans les prochains jours.

The Trenchant Observer
(Le Observateur Incisif)

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Afghanistan Donors Conference in London, Need to Address Past Failures

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

In an interesting commentary on the eve of the Afghanistan Donors Conference in London (Seventh International Conference on Afghanistan), the former head of Canada’s aid program in Afghanistan underlines the need to identify the causes of past failures in providing foreign assistance there, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes. See Nipa Banerjee, “Past Failures Must be Addressed in London”, Ottowa Citizen, January 27, 2010

COULD U.N. TAKE CONTROL OF AFGHAN ELECTIONS TO STOP SECOND ROUND FRAUD?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Summary

–Another Fraud and Then Five More Years of Karzai?
–The United States, NATO and the UN have several options, as
does Abdullah
–Advantages of the U.N. Taking Over the Elections
–Final Thoughts
–ANNEX–Elements of a Draft Security Council Resolution Authorizing
Immediate UN Control of the Electoral Process in Afghanistan

Another Fraud and Then Five More Years of Karzai?

With Afghan President Hamid Karzai refusing to replace members of the Independent Electoral Commission which certified the fraud in the first-round elections on August 20, prospects for a fair runoff election appear greatly diminished. Moreover, recent attacks on UN facilities in Kabul on October 28 and deteriorating security conditions elsewhere will now make it even more difficult for U.N. electoral officials and foreign observers to monitor the voting process. Seeing the U.S., NATO countries, and even the U.N. failing to take vigorous action to stop preparations for another fraud, some voters may conclude there is not much point in voting since the outcome is already clear. Against this background, it is quite possible that Abdullah will boycott the elections.

In any event, a second round election run by the same people who openly sanctioned the massive fraud in the first round cannot, and will not, produce credible results. A Karzai regime that is the product of fraudulent elections will not restore legitimacy to the government of Afghanistan.

But without a government seen as legitimate and offering real hope for meaningful change in the way the government operates, the advances of the Taliban are not likely to be halted.

What can be done, at this late hour?

The United States, NATO and the UN have several options, as does Abdullah

1) The U.S., NATO and the U.N. can proceed in supporting a runoff election which appears to be headed again for massive fraud, and which will have no credibility. Karzai may indeed emerge as the most powerful warlord in Afghanistan, with the most powerful allies (the U.S., NATO, and the U.N.).

Western countries may well believe that the “legitimacy” questions will fade away, or can be overcome by building up a stronger government under Karzai’s direction and control. Detailed knowledge of the last five years of experience with Karzai and how numerous similar hopeful expectations have been dashed might temper such a view, but curiously resurgent optimism–or willful forgetfulness–obscures these facts from public debate.

On the other hand, maybe Karzai will build a new kind of government with the capabilities the U.S. and NATO view as so essential. All one can say, as Afghanistan slips increasingly under the sway of the Taliban, is that the evidence supporting this proposition is slim.

2) Abdullah withdraws, with assurances brokered by the Americans that he will have an important role in the next (Karzai) administration

Abdullah could withdraw from the second round, with assurances brokered by the Americans that he will be brought into the Karzai government with important posts. The key fact here is that Karzai will be calling the shots, for the next five years, and if he finds reason to revise any such understandings, there is nothing the Americans, NATO or the U.N. will be able to do about it. He will remain in control. They will remain dependent on him.

3) Abdullah withdraws or boycotts the runoff on the ground that the election is already tainted by fraud, because officials responsible for the fraud in the first round have not been replaced.

Abdullah would have strong arguments to support such a withdrawal, as the Independent Electoral Commission members who certified the first round fraud have not been replaced, and indeed appear to be preparing another massive fraud (e.g., by increasing the number of polling stations in the South). Under this scenario, a period of prolonged political uncertainty would be likely to ensue, further weakening the authority of the government in Kabul.

4) The United Nations could assume immediate control over the elections in Afghanistan, and postpone the second round if necessary.

A fourth option would be for the United Nations to intervene, acting under the authority of a Security Council resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. Such resolutions have binding effect. This option would depend on gaining the affirmative vote or abstention of the five permanent members of the Security Council. They have worked in harmony on issues relating to Afghanistan in the past.

Given the utter disarray following the attacks on the U.N. guest houses in Kabul on October 28, and the practical impossibility of putting adequate security measures into place before November 7 that would allow U.N. personnel and European observers to actively deploy to assist in and observe the elections, the U.N. could well decide to postpone the second round until the spring.

Such an option would reassert the authority of the U.N. precisely at the moment when many expect it to withdraw or greatly curtail its activities in Afghanistan. In 2003, when the U.N. headquarters in Bagdad were blown up, killing a potential future Secretary General, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, the world organization withdrew from the country. Assertion of a more vigorous U.N. role now would serve to counter that unfortunate precedent.

Advantages of the U.N. Taking Over the Elections

A number of advantages would flow from pursuing the fourth option.

First, the decision on U.S. strategy and the deployment of some 40,000-45,000 additional U.S. troops could be decoupled from the second round election results. Deployments could begin as quickly as feasible, without the delay that review of alleged fraud and decisions on complaints might entail. In the first round, this process took two months, and the ECC’s decision was accepted by Karzai only under extraordinary pressures from the U.S., NATO and the U.N.

Second, Karzai would be given a chance to demonstrate that he actually could strengthen his government, and both attack corruption and end any complicity in the drug trade. He might be persuaded to bring Abdullah into a “transitional ” national unity government. His own legal mandate, which expired in August, could be extended until the final results of the second round were in and a new government, based on those results, was formed.

Third, Abdullah would have an opportunity to make his case to the Afghan people that he should be elected President in a free and fair election. He would have time to do this, as would Karzai, in a more stable atmosphere and under electoral arrangements established by the U.N. that are transparent and fair. Indeed, elections run by the U.N. for president n 2004 and for the National Assembly in 2005 were widely viewed as fair.

Fourth, the United Nations could recover from the terrible attacks that cost the lives of five U.N. staff on October 28, and have time to fully develop and deploy the appropriate security arrangements in light of the fact U.N. staff are now being targeted by the Taliban. Many move about in unarmored vehicles and are soft and easy targets. The U.N. would have time to protect its staff more effectively, and avoid asking idealistic young workers–who did not volunteer to be soldiers–to risk their lives to carry out their tasks during the next few weeks.

Fifth, the U.S. and NATO could proceed with plans to increase the number of troops deployed to Afghanistan, not only to avoid the collapse of major cities to the Taliban but also to protect the Afghan population going to the polls in the runoff election, as well as the international observers that need to be deployed throughout the country to ensure that a fair vote is held.

Sixth, while there would be many challenges in pursuing such an option, the payoff would be big–a government viewed by the population as the product of a fair electoral process, and therefore a government that represents them.

Final Thoughts

Many officials and observers assume that Afghanistan’s future will inevitably be like its past, with power controlled by warlords and tribes on a local basis. However, the world has changed and is changing, and the rate of change is accelerating. 44.5% of the population of Afghanistan is 14 years old or younger. They hold the key to the country’s future.

The future of younger Afghans, with cell phones and internet access, will not be like that of the past. The number of internet users in the country, 500,000 in 2008, is growing rapidly, as is that of cell phones. In 2008, there were 460,000 main line telephones and 8.45 million cell phones, in a country of 28.4 million inhabitants. The number of television satellite dishes is growing. Afghanistan is getting connected, and Afghans are becoming increasingly aware of what is going on in the world. Surely they observed the three million people who clogged Tehran’s streets following the June 12 elections in Iran, which were also characterized by massive fraud. Afghans and Iranians speak the same language, and share the same cultural heritage. Educated Pashtuns speak Dari as a second language, and Dari is the first language of 50% of the country. Dari is a dialect of Farsi, and educated speakers understand each other easily. Afghans know what is going on in Iran, and vice versa.

We should not be so condescending or naive as to believe that international human rights have no appeal to the people of Afghanistan, including the leading elites. The United States insists on absolute fidelity to democratic forms in Honduras, fosters the new democracies of West Africa, supports the democratic government of Pakistan, and proclaims its democratic ideals in President Obama’s speech to the Arab and Islamic world in Cairo. Still, American decision makers should never forget that people in the region and around the world are not only listening to what they say, but also watching what they do.

The Trenchant Observer

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ANNEX

Elements of a Draft Security Council Resolution Authorizing
Immediate UN Control of the Electoral Process in Afghanistan

The United Nations Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, should adopt at the earliest opportunity a binding resolution which provides, inter alia, the following:

1. The United Nations, acting through the Security Council, shall immediately assume direction and control of the timing and conduct of the second round in the Presidential elections in Afghanistan, which are currently scheduled for November 7, 2009.

2. The Security Council, acting through the Secretary General, shall replace the current Afghan members of the Independent Electoral Commission with international elections experts of outstanding and unquestionable qualifications, impartiality and integrity.

3. The reconstituted IEC shall conduct the elections under procedures established by Secretary General to ensure transparency and fairness in the conduct of the elections, the collection of the ballots, and the tabulation of votes cast for each candidate.

4. The Security Council, acting through the Secretary General, may determine that it is not feasible to hold a free and fair second round of elections on November 7, and may postpone the second round to a date by which it expects such free and fair elections can be held. Such date may be postponed until the spring of 2010 or such other date as the Secretary General may decide.

5. The mandate of the current President of Afghanistan, which under the terms of the March decision of the Afghan Supreme Court expired in August, is extended until such time as the second round elections are held, complaints are heard and decided by the Electoral Complaints Commission, and the corrected results are announced by the ECC. The decision of the ECC shall be final, immediately binding, and not subject to judicial review.

6. The Security Council may encourage both parties to participate in the transitional government until the elections are held, and the final corrected results are announced by the ECC.

7. International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) forces and other international forces should be augmented by further contributions from the respective members states and NATO countries, in order to ensure, inter alia, that the second round in the Presidential elections are held in a transparent, free and fair manner, resulting in the transfer of power to a new government that expresses the will of the people of Afghanistan.

The Trenchant Observer

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KARZAI’S FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL IN AFGHANISTAN—THE REAL EXTENT OF THE ELECTORAL FRAUD, ABDULLAH’S CHANCES, AND WASHINGTON’S RESPONSE

Friday, October 16th, 2009

If the Electoral Complaints Commission in Afghanistan is likely to decide that Karzai won 47% of the ballots and Abdullah won 28% in the first round elections on August 20, why is Karzai fighting so hard to avoid a second round?

Could it be that the ECC’s very limited statistical sampling of the August 20 election results–examining only polling stations representing the most egregious cases of fraud–vastly understates the real extent of the fraud, and hence the likelihood that Karzai can actually beat Abdullah in a second round?

If this were true, it would explain Karzai’s fierce opposition to holding a second round of voting, because a run-off could actually give a majority of votes and the Presidency to Abdullah. That would produce a wrenching handover of power, and concomitant loss of jobs, influence, and patronage for Karzai and his supporters.

How the U.S., NATO and the United Nations manage the crisis which will erupt if Karzai balks at the ECC’s findings will have a fateful impact on the legitimacy of the next government. This week Karzai’s appointee on the ECC resigned, claiming improper foreign pressures on the Commission. Statements by Karzai’s Ambassador to the U.S. saying a second round was likely were interpreted as a sign Karzai would accept a second round. Yet later statements by officials in Kabul suggest that Karzai’s response is still up in the air.

The strategy of the U.S. seems to be to pressure Abdullah into an agreement to join a coalition government in which Karzai will remain at the helm. Otherwise, why would it be necessary for NATO members to declare as they did recently that they believed Karzai would be the winner in a second round, and why would Secretary of State Clinton feel moved to state, on Friday, that Karzai would be the likely winner in a runoff? The U.S. has apparently been pressuring Abdullah since days after the August 20 elections. U.S. officials have hardly been operating in the dark, for U.S. intelligence surely has a more accurate picture of the extent of the fraud than even the reported ECC figures, expected to be published within a day or two.

Moreover, what is former U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad doing in Kabul? U.S. Ambassador to Kabul from 2003-2005, Khalilzad was a candidate for a conjured-up position of “prime minister” of Afghanistan under Karzai in the run-up to the elections, a prospect which proved illusory. Is he acting on his own now? If he is acting for the Obama administration, it would be interesting to know his brief. Is it to pull the iron out of the fire for Karzai, or something else? Hopefully there is more to it than desperate improvisation, and hopefully it reflects something more than U.S. policy disarray in Washington at a highly critical juncture in our relations with Afghanistan.

Why isn’t the press digging into all of this, instead of simply summarizing the views of different U.S. and NATO officials, with those of an occasional academic thrown in for good measure?

In a television news report last week, a man on the street in Kabul observed that NATO was against Abdullah, so he couldn’t win the presidency. His statement had the ring of truth. Such statements should be disquieting to those concerned that the U.S. may be perceived by Afghans as an occupying force and as imposing its will on the people of Afghanistan. Isn’t it time now for an emergency revision in our policy towards the Karzai government, with a view toward decisive action in the coming days? During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, it is worth recalling, President John F. Kennedy was not engaged in a wide-ranging policy review, but rather using his Executive Committee to help him decide how to deal with missile-laden Soviet ships bearing down first on Cuba, and then directly on U.S. navy warships blocking their path.

President Obama’s policy review is valuable and should continue, but he needs to focus now on the ships bearing down on us and Afghanistan in the next few days.

The Trenchant Observer

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