Ah, the march of democracy…apparently the "old gang" in Afghanistan is challenging President Hamid Karzai politically now through the Afghans fledgling democracy the U.S. propped up after we kicked out the Taliban.
The AP reports that former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, some former mujahedeen leaders and some old Commies have formed the National Front, a political opposition to Karzai. Many of these guys held power in the past and also crippled Afghanistan in the post- Communist/pre-Taliban era in the early 1990’s. And now they are back, joining the political fray with name recognition, persuasive abilities and power over may of Afghanistan’s regions and people.
They want more power for the Afghan parliament and direct elections for provincial governors – rather than Karzai-appointed governors. They see their political opposition as a the path toward peace against the insurgency.
Karzai only holds power because the U.S. wants him to. He lives and moves under heavy security. Educated Afghans from Kabul who I am still friends with tell me that there has been open frustrations with Karzai for a long time in the Afghan capital.
So who are these guys?
One apparently is the vice president, Ahmed Zia Masoud, a former Northern Alliance leader – who helped us kick out the Taliban. Others include power heavy figures like Dostum the Uzbek and Ismail Khan of Herat. They also have Mustafa Zahir, grandson of Zahir Shah, Afghanistan's last king.These men have a lot of influence. And using their new found form of democracy, they could sway elections in their favor.
How does that sit for the U.S. and its NATO allies? At some point, there will have to be another president other than Karzai – c’mon that is democracy, right?
But here’s the what if…could our support of Afghan democracy backfire in the same way that Hamas now has legitimate power in Palestine? Can the powerful men who once ran Afghanistan and nearly destroyed it – again hold legitimate power through elections?
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE (AP):