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Max Forte's List: Afghanistan Elections 2009

  • Jul 25, 09

    Complaints about the abuse of state media to provide exposure for Karzai far beyond any provided to competing candidates.

    • A month before elections, a media monitoring unit alleges that the incumbent is unfairly dominating the airwaves
    • Spend an evening watching national TV station Radio Television Afghanistan, RTA, and you may be forgiven for thinking that Afghanistan has just one prominent public figure: President Hamed Karzai.
    • during a presidential election campaign, it borders on a gross violation of the election law,

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    • With elections due on August 20, pressure is mounting on Afghan journalists, and it's coming from all sides.
    • attacks and abuse aimed at journalists as the elections approach
    • What about threats and violence directed at his news crews?

        

      "There is increased sophistication in the ways they do intimidation. All the blunt instruments of harassment CPJ knows of. There are continuing problems with the insurgents, but a lot of our problems end up being with government. They use different ways of coming at us: We have a number of court cases about broadcasting Indian drama serials or retransmitting Al-Jazeera, and we expect more when they are unhappy with us. It's difficult when the judiciary is selected by the president' s office. They've charged us under the national security legislation for airing India serials--that sort of law is designed to go after the guys trying to blow up the country. The bottom line is the government feels it can do whatever it wants without real accountability."

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    • Afghan election commissions “code of conduct,” to be signed by journalists who want to be accredited to cover the upcoming vote
    • No mentioning of corruption, then?
    • this “code of conduct” could be used as a rather sweeping tool to close down or restrict media outlets that publish critical reports

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    • President Barack Obama's special envoy said Friday that Afghanistan's upcoming presidential contest will be imperfect, but the country cannot be held to a democratic standard that even the U.S. struggles to achieve.
    • Richard Holbrooke's trip to this central Afghan province coincided with President Hamid Karzai's first election rally in Kabul ahead of the Aug. 20 ballot.
    • "Elections here will be imperfect," Holbrooke said between briefings at a military base run by Polish and U.S. troops. "But I am an American who lived through an imperfect election eight years ago. I am not going to hold Afghanistan to standards which even the United States does not achieve."

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  • Jul 25, 09

    A fake democracy, with continued abuse of women and human rights, is what NATO has "won" for Afghanistan.

    • In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.
    • It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.
    • 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.

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    • Just this week, the Obama administration first claimed it had no grounds to investigate General Abdul Rashid Dostum's infamous 2001 massacre of Taliban prisoners, even though Dostum seems to have been on the CIA payroll at the time, and his troops were backed by U.S. military operatives. Later, the president reversed course, ordering national security officials to "look into" the matter. In the end, President Obama may prefer to "move on." As does Dostum, who recently rejoined the Karzai administration.
    • Ajmal's stricken father asks, "What kind of government doesn't protect its own citizens?" The answer is: a government that's bought, paid for, and answerable to outsiders, a government that has neither the need nor the inclination to care for its citizens.
    • That's the government the international community is now spending more than $500 million to reelect. (Most of that money comes from the U.S.) International election officials, of course, are neutral -- so neutral that they look the other way as Karzai makes deals with rival warlords to ensure his reelection. One by one they come over to his side, and word leaks out about which ministries they've been promised.

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  • Jul 26, 09

    Statements from Malalai Joya on her trip to London, on human rights, women, war, and elections in Afghanistan.

    • "I have a country full of people who know what I know and believe what I believe; that we Afghans can govern ourselves without foreign interference."
    • "There can never be lasting peace if the lives of Afghans are not valued as much as the lives of Western soldiers. Every death is a tragedy, but too often the Afghan victims of this war are merely nameless 'collateral damage' reported in the media as having been killed by 'mistake'."
    • "Helmand is not the whole of Afghanistan. Even if they annihilate Taliban there, they should not call it a success because Taliban are logistically and militarily stabilised in hundreds of other parts of Afghanistan ... and growing stronger as each day dawns."

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  • Jul 26, 09

    Malalai Joya, voice for an independent and self-liberating Afghanistan

    • Malalai Joya
    • Ms Joya named those "enemies" as Nato forces who bomb from the sky, the resurgent Islamists of the Taliban, and the country's "warlords".
    • she dismissed next month's presidential election as a "deception".

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    • It is not good enough for the defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, to strike Churchillian tones by saying the way forward will be hard and dangerous, and then plead for public forbearance. The business of government is to set a goal and provide a strategy for getting there. In Afghanistan we have neither. And the British public's tolerance is running on a timer.
    • British soldiers are notionally dying to allow a national election to take place in Helmand. Unless miracles happen, this poll will usher in four more years of a corrupt narco-regime whose leader, Hamid Karzai, is the not-so-private despair of everyone from Barack Obama downwards.
    • Mr Karzai's re-election could trigger a violent backlash from Afghans yearning for a government they can trust

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    • General Petraeus's oft-cited military formula is not the key to success in Afghanistan
    • From the surge in 2007 in Iraq to Afghanistan today, allied military strategy in both conflicts has been focused on three words that have been iterated and reiterated at each crisis and turning point. Those words are "clear, hold, build", representing the credo of General David Petraeus's Field Manual 3-24 on Counterinsurgency (pdf), first published in 2006.
    • Clear

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    • August's presidential election in Afghanistan could be more competitive than many observers have been predicting. For months, it seemed that President Hamid Karzai was virtually certain to win re-election, but an apparent recent surge in support for two of Karzai's rivals has opened the prospect that he could be forced into a runoff.
    • what if Karzai — long thought of as America's man in Afghanistan — were to lose?
    • Alexander Thier, a senior adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says "the Afghan people are skeptical because of our long and uncritical support" of Karzai.

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    • The August 20 presidential vote, only the second in Afghan history, is seen as a crucial test in the nearly eight-year effort led by the United States and NATO to stabilise Afghanistan since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban.
    • Haroun Mir, analyst from the Afghanistan Centre for Research and Policy Studies in Kabu
    • 67 troop deaths so far in July

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    • The Democratic strategist and former President Clinton’s key adviser has joined the campaign of one of President Karzai’s challenger, Ashraf Ghani. Ghani is a former finance minister and was an analyst at  the World Bank.
    • Carville’s objective is to try to get his candidate into a second round against Karzai. The political strategist is already in full attack mode against the current President, he made the following statement about Afghanistan: ” Just because it has a failed president doesn’t mean it has to be a failed country.”
    • James Carville, when asked by NPR, declined to say if he was getting paid for his work.

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    • The weakness of state institutions, the deteriorating security situation and the fractured political scene are all highlighted by – and will likely have a dramatic effect on – the electoral process.
    • The years since the last poll saw the Afghan government and international community fail to embed a robust electoral framework and drive democratisation at all levels.
    • The Afghan government, UN and donors failed to use the interim period to build the capacity and resources of the IEC; strengthen the legal framework including replacing the inappropriate Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) system; and produce a sustainable voter registry.

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    • The Afghan government has agreed a truce with Taliban insurgents in the north-western province of Badghis ahead of elections next month, officials say.
    • The Taliban have pledged not to attack voting centres and to hand key areas to government forces, officials say. There has been no word from the militants.
    • the UK is emphasising that more must be done to engage moderate members of the Taliban

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    • Hundreds of polling stations could be closed in Afghanistan's most violent regions, raising concerns that many ethnic Pashtuns will be unable to vote in next month's presidential elections.
    • Afghan authorities plan to establish about 7,000 polling centers across the country for the Aug. 20 balloting. But security officials are unsure whether voting can take place in about 700 of them, said Noor Mohammad Noor, a spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission.
    • At least 500 will probably not open because of security fears, according to a Western official working on the elections.

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    • The Taliban urged Afghans on Thursday to stay away from the Aug. 20 elections, threatening to block the roads to polling stations and dismissing the balloting as an "American process."
    • "All those Afghans should stand together with the Islamic emirate and should not participate in this American process," the Taliban said in a statement. The Islamic emirate is the name used by Taliban groups loyal to Mullah Omar.
    • Hundreds of polling stations are likely to remain shut on the election date, almost all in areas dominated by Pashtuns, the biggest ethnic group and the backbone of the Taliban. A low Pashtun turnout could call the legitimacy of the election results into question.
    • Abdullah's campaign manager last week predicted street violence if Abdullah doesn't win, contending that Karzai can't prevail unless he steals the vote. Abdullah distanced himself from the comments, saying it wasn't his view or that of his supporters
    • hreats of campaign violence — combined with several deadly attacks on candidates' campaign teams in recent days — are partial indicators that Afghans are not likely to view the election process as "credible and legitimate," said Candace Rondeaux, an Afghanistan expert for the International Crisis Group
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