September 23, 2010
A Political Retreat Concept
(Own report) - In the run-up to tomorrow's Afghan parliamentary elections, German government advisors have diagnosed a "dismantling" of the remnants of a formal democracy in Kabul. According to a recent analysis produced by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, the western occupiers are apparently no longer interested in "credible elections" at the Hindu Kush. On the contrary, with the help of the elections, President Karzai is given a "free hand" to "impose his will also on the lower house." The report contends that, under western control, Afghanistan has become a "facade democracy" based on a foundation of a war and drugs economy and clientele structures." Whereas Karzai is obviously preparing to establish a "presidential dynasty" in Kabul, western think tanks are continuing to elaborate their strategies for Afghanistan. According to recent proposals, the western occupation troops should be drastically reduced, maintaining only a few military bases for occasional attacks on anti-western forces. Afghanistan itself, according to this proposal, is to be broken up into relatively autonomous provinces, having a "balance of weakness" relationship toward the "central government" in Kabul - ideal prerequisites for western powers to control the country.
Free Hand
Berlin's government advisors are expecting "a massive amount of forgeries" and serious electoral fraud in tomorrow's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan. According to a recent analysis of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the proposals made by Afghan and international observers concerning consequences that could be taken, in light of the electoral frauds in 2004, 2005, and 2009, have been ignored by the western occupying powers. No measures have been taken to rectify even the most important deficiencies. For example 17.4 million voter registration cards have been issued, even though the number of eligible voters is less than 12.6 million. Large expanses of territory are not under the control of either the government in Kabul or NATO, which is why an orderly electoral process in these regions is very unlikely. According to the SWP, western countries have significantly reduced their participation in the observation of the elections. The EU will no longer send an "observation mission", only an "assistance mission," whose function and competence will be much more limited. The SWP draws the conclusion that the West has "renounced the objective of credible Afghan elections" and is giving "President Karzai a free hand."[1]
War and Drug Economy
The SWP diagnoses that beyond the current elections, there will be a dismantlement of Kabul's formally democratic aspects. Under western control, Afghanistan has become "a facade democracy with an over powerful executive in relations to a parliament weak politically and in legitimacy and a judiciary that is not independent." The parliamentary elections tomorrow will permit Hamid Karzai "to also impose his will on the lower house."[2] The SWP does not exclude the possibility of a "presidential dynasty" being formed. The SWP sees Hamid's brother, Mahmud Karzai, as his possible successor. Mahmud Karzai, "who up to now has mainly been handling the family clan's business interests, harbors political ambitions, is being promoted by the incumbent president." The SWP holds no illusions about the Karzai regime's base of power, at least that which is beyond its maintenance by the western occupiers. "This entity is on a foundation of a war and drugs economy and clientele structures."
Too Ambitious
While Hamid Karzai is shoring up his regime with Western approval, the debate over the future occupation policy is continuing in the West. The current counter-insurgency strategy for Afghanistan is considered a failure, "too ambitious" and "too wasteful of diplomatic and military energy", as the renowned International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS, London), a leading Western think tank on international policy, wrote in its recently published annual "Strategic Survey". The IISS proposals for a future Afghanistan strategy are based on elements that have been approved already in the USA and will probably reach the German public attention, since they are already being discussed internally in German circles. The only indispensable objective would be to have the capacity to impede terrorist structures ("al-Qaeda") reconstituting themselves in Afghanistan, from expanding to the West. Cooperation with local Islamic forces ("Taliban") is considered quite feasible.
Precise Military Operations
In its "Strategic Survey", the IISS proposes that the occupation forces withdraw from the Pashtun areas in the Southern and Eastern Afghanistan - where the "Taliban" always had the largest influence - to redeploy in permanent military bases in Kabul and Northern Afghanistan. As soon as the above mentioned terrorist structures attempt to reconstitute themselves in Afghanistan to expand to the West, NATO forces should launch precise operations. This would necessitate the development of rapid reaction capacities. Islamic forces that renounce aggression against the West should be treated as partners and should not be attacked unless they seek to expand from their original homelands.[3] The IISS proposals correspond to concepts that have been publicly discussed for quite some time in the United States ( reported [4]) to facilitate the retreat of most Western troops, without completely relinquishing the military control over Afghanistan.
Balance of Weakness
Concerning Afghanistan's internal structure, IISS proposes that the formal rule and the official foreign policy remain with the regime in Kabul. "Practical sovereignty" however should go to the provinces to strengthen their autonomy vis à vis Kabul. IISS pleads particularly for the Afghan National Army (ANA) having a "con-federal character". "Local forces" - de facto the militia of the warlords - should be labeled "ANA" and be officially integrated into the national forces. The IISS proposals are actually aimed at dismantling Afghanistan into to a network of small territories ruled by their respective warlords with the aid of their militia that are loosely connected to the central authority in Kabul. Similar concepts have also been discussed for quite some time. ( reported [5].) US General David Petreus has already discussed this issue with President Karzai. IISS is actually speaking of "a balance of weakness between the capital and the provinces" [6] - a precarious balance allowing the occupiers to better control resisting forces.
While the international debate on Afghanistan - removed from the German public attention - is clearly moving toward positions described in the new IISS proposals, Hamid Karzai is seeking to strengthen his reign in the Afghan capital through parliamentary elections - as a pillar of the future Western control over a completely fragmented Afghanistan. Thomas Ruttig, a renowned expert on Afghanistan, predicts that the elections constitute the West's "political farewell performance." "Everything else that follows will just be part of the retreat, embellished with the nice sounding term 'Afghanization'."[7] And extended with measures such as the concept proposed by IISS that is aiming to secure the permanent control over Afghanistan.
[1], [2] Citha D. Maaß, Thomas Ruttig: Afghanistans Parlamentswahl 2010. Verpasste Wahlrechtsreformen und politische Manöver schwächen neues Parlament, SWP-Aktuell 66, September 2010
[3] Strategic Survey 2010: The Annual Review of World Affairs - Press Statement;
[4] see also Permanent War
[5] see also Total Loss and Die Kolonialisten kommen zurück
[6] Strategic Survey 2010: The Annual Review of World Affairs - Press Statement;
[7] Thomas Ruttig: Afghanistans embryonale Demokratie unterliegt; Neues Deutschland 14.09.2010