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Prospects for change in 2014

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5 April 2014 is the date set for the presidential election in Afghanistan. It was decided upon by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which allows for a four months campaign. The electorate will also have 18 months to study the candidates. Some of the major concerns, at institutional and public opinion levels, are security during voting operations and electoral fraud. The elections to choose Hamid Karzai’s successor come more than ten years after the Taliban were ousted. Karzai was at first a provisional president and then he won the following two elections. The Constitution forbids the president from standing for a third consecutive mandate but there are those, among his followers, who would like to change the charter. The UN has welcomed the decision with satisfaction and the US embassy has underlined “the importance of that date in the calendar.” At present, the Afghan government is trying to fill the gaps left by foreign troops. In the past, NATO forces protected voting operations, saw to the security of the electoral sections threatened by the Taliban, and guaranteed connections even in the most impenetrable areas of Afghanistan. Many of the troops present during previous elections will not be there in 2014. There are few resources available.
In the meantime, the weak Afghan executive, constantly in search of stability, must try to continue finding support for its economy and to maintain security. This doesn’t exclude a possible compromise with armed opposition groups in exchange for the ‘partial revision’ of the political-social results achieved. These groups will gain with the withdrawal of NATO forces and the consequent reduction of military pressure on them. This is a favourable condition which, if on the one hand will facilitate the profitable activities connected with the drug trade, on the other, it will enable them to concentrate their action against the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the foreign advisors. Finally, on the internal level, they will have access to some sort of power, at first local and later political. The sum of these factors will allow the opposition groups to be more active in the media and in propaganda to propagate the myth of the Afghan Mujaheddin’s invincibility.
dos43NATO plans a gradual but not complete withdrawal of its troops before the end of 2013. This will prepare the ANSF to take formal control of urban areas, especially in the south (but not in extra-urban or rural areas). They will make strategic bases available in view of a ground or airborne intervention, be it either internal (support for ANSF) or external (at a regional level), such as counter-terrorism operations and ‘drone’ attacks. There will then be a need to defend the perception of a ‘conclusion’ to the Afghan campaign. The Taliban will be gradually legitimised in the role of ‘interlocutors’ through a negotiated process with the Haqqani network. This network will, instead, assume the role of ‘terrorist subject’ connected to Al-Qa’ida and become the ‘declared objective’ of military operations. Justifying the presence of over ten thousand American soldiers after 2014.
In Afghanistan, unlike elsewhere, institutions have the duty of resolving the contradictions of the people. They must be able to live in peace, find work, nourish and rear their children, improve their living conditions – the nation has dropped to one of the last places in world rankings. It is a situation that has greatly deteriorated over the twelve years of occupation which failed to reach many of its objectives. Known elements and a new parasite class, inspired by westerners and made up of mediators and wheeler-dealers in private business, inflate their own interests or those of their employers. They flout the law to the detriment of the needs of the civilian population which include: schools, hospitals, help to the poor and the large number of invalids and widows caused by the long years of war. We must also add the widespread tendency of state leaders not to hide political corruption, the buying of votes, and fraud. All at the order of the day. In this very uncertain climate, we can only look forward to the wave of changes planned for 2014.
Micol Briziobello

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