The U.S./NATO International Security Assistance Force Joint Command lowered its flag for the last time in Afghanistan on Dec. 8, after 13 years. The ISAF mission officially ends on Dec. 31, and will be replaced on Jan. 1, 2015 by “Resolute Support”, a new, narrow-mandate mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces.
With protests erupting Thursday over alleged voter fraud during Afghanistan’s first-ever democratic transfer of power, and presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah announcing his intention to boycott the electoral process, ordinary Afghans are beginning to despair that they will ever start to feel a sense of normalcy in their country, ravaged by years of civil war.
The Afghanistan presidential election is turning out to be a tale of two narratives. The more positive and democratic one could be winning the day.
“If Abdullah will become president, the will of [the] Afghan people will be respected. Otherwise – especially if Zalmai Rassoul will be indicated as the winner – a new conflict will start and our country will become more insecure.” The remark by Abdullah Abdullah supporter Qazi Sadullah Abu Aman is typical of the uncertainties and accusations rising as election day draws close on Saturday.
Ethnicities will come to the fore in the Afghan elections due Saturday this week, even though it appears that the young are beginning to break away from such loyalties.
As Afghanistan heads for presidential elections Apr. 5, people are asking if the country’s massive legacy of human rights violations will be swept under the carpet yet again by the new government.
Will we get justice? That is the question many Afghans are asking as their war-ravaged country heads for presidential polls in April. For, the list of candidates includes several warlords who have been accused of heinous crimes and who are yet to be brought to justice.
Afghanistan’s 30 million people are deeply divided over whether President Hamid Karzai should sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington that will allow U.S. military operations to continue in the conflict-ravaged country after NATO forces leave in 2014.
“My relatives and I tried many times, again and again, to find out what happened to my father. I searched constantly for 35 years, without success. Just a few days ago, I found out from the ‘death list’ that my father had been executed.”
The dusty cemetery in Saracha village hosts three new graves: small hills of soil shielding the bodies of Sahebullah, Wasihullah and Amanullah, three of the five boys and young men killed by an ISAF-NATO airstrike on late Friday, Oct. 4.
The threat to the stability of the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan arises not so much from outside as from within. And the one thing that is eating into its edifice is the malaise called corruption.
What happens after 2014? That is the question people on Afghanistan’s streets are asking as the deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops draws near.
While United States President Barack Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai scramble to solidify a peace process ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, fears that the Taliban will use the drawdown to seize power hang like a dark cloud over civil society.
Another kind of war, less explosive than bombs and more subtle than night raids, is taking place in the Central Asian country of Afghanistan: a war of cultural influence. Its means are financial sponsorships and other support for cultural and artistic events.
More than a decade after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is still in the midst of an irregular war. Talking peace is difficult because no one quite knows who to talk to.