Friday, July 10, 2009

Is Afghanistan Facing Revolt?

Forget about the Taliban and al Qaeda. This concerns ordinary Afghans and their anger toward their central government and, in particular, Hamid Karzai.

Afghans go to the polls next month to elect their president and Karzai is considered a shoo-in. That's got the American commander responsible for taming the southern provinces of Logar and Wardak warning of a possible, popular revolt. From The Guardian:

"I think the people down here are disgruntled with the government because there feeling is, look, 'I'm just right to the south, I'm frigging 40 miles away and you couldn't help me?'" said [Colonel David] Haight.

"I think that apathy is going to turn into some anger because when the administration doesn't change, and I don't think anyone believes now that Karzai is going to lose ... I think there is going to be frustration from people who realise there is not going to be a change. The bottom line is they are going to be thinking: 'four more years of this crap?'" Haight said.

...Widely blamed for much of the corruption in modern Afghanistan, Karzai has nonetheless succeeded in gaining the support of most of the country's most important ethnic and tribal power-brokers, including a number of unsavoury characters accused of human rights violations.

...There are also concerns about the independence of the election commission, which opponents accuse Karzai of stacking with loyalists.

Ashraf Ghani, former finance minister once tipped as a replacement for Kofi Annan as UN secretary general, is one of two leading opposition candidates. He is about to hit the campaign trail, but has limited access to television, no official protection, and no helicopter. He echoed Haight's view that the Karzai administration had failed to deliver on security: "In 2001 the Afghan people expected state-building and received bad governance and corruption. Now as a result of the failure of this government and international community, they are demonstrating again the desire for legitimate and accountable state institutions."

You don't have to go too far back in time to recall another nation wrestling with an insurgency and beset by a corrupt and detested government. It was popular discontent that kept the government of South Vietnam from ever consolidating its hold on the country, hastening its collapse.

1 comment:

UU4077 said...

Corruption in Afghanistan? Who'da thunk it.

Of course, this is why the Taliban gained power in the first place. To rid the country (or at least part of it, intially) of corruption and violence. And it worked, for a time, until ... well, what goes around ...