Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 18, 2020

Afghan Election Drama Threatens Trump's Deal With The Taliban

Donald Trump wants a murky peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan to better his chance for a reelection. A seven day long 'reduction in violence' phase was supposed to begin this week after which the Taliban and the U.S. would sign a longer term agreement. Only after that would talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban begin.

But a conflict over the presidential election in Afghanistan now threatens to blow up the whole process.

Some people in Kabul always disliked Trump's plan as they were not included in it:

In a clear sign of internal rift, Afghan government's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on Monday criticized official handling of the peace process with the Taliban.

Chairing a meeting of the ministers at his office, Abdullah stressed all political parties and groups should be involved in the proposed negotiation team.

“Peace is not one person's monopoly, one person's wish -- but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” Tolo News, a local broadcaster, quoted Abdullah as saying.

Today the Afghan election commission announced the final election results and declared President Ashraf Ghani as winner. Abdullah is, like in 2014, not happy with this and now threatens to install a parallel government:

Afghan presidential election challenger Abdullah Abdullah on Tuesday contested final results that declared incumbent President Ashraf Ghani the winner of a September presidential poll, vowing to form a parallel government.

"Our team, based on clean and biometric votes, is the victor and we declare our victory. The fraudsters are the shame of history and we announce our inclusive government," Abdullah said at a press conference in Kabul.

Earlier on Tuesday, Afghan election officials said final results showed he had won 39.52 percent of last September's vote while Ghani had taken 50.64 percent, above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid another run-off.
The delay left Afghanistan facing a political crisis just as the US seeks a deal with the Taliban that would allow it to withdraw troops in return for various security guarantees and a promise that the militants would hold peace talks with the Afghan government.

Abdullah lost to Ghani in 2014 in a divisive election that saw the US intervene to broker an awkward power-sharing deal between the two rivals.

Abdullah (yellow) is the 'Northern Alliance' representative. His voters are mostly Tajik, Uzbeks and Hazara while Pashtun voters are favoring Ghani (red).

Source - AAN - bigger
Less than 20% of the registered voters took part in election on September 28 2019. The whole process and the preliminary results were marred with irregularities. The announcement of final results was shifted again and again. As of February 8 there were still many open questions:
The turnout figure of 2,695,890 that was given after the election day is now down to 1,824,401 voters in the preliminary results. This means the electoral commissions have so far ruled almost 30 per cent of the turnout figure invalid. With this, the turnout figure dropped from 28 to 19 per cent of the registered voters.

The remaining question is whether the [Electoral Complaints Commission's] (ECC) decisions for more special audits (of the 137,630 ‘suspicious’ votes and the 102,012 ‘out of time’ votes) as well as another recount (of 298 polling stations) and another audit plus recount (of more than 300 polling stations) will lead to the invalidation of any of these categories of votes. It is important to watch how these audits and recounts will be carried out as well as how the [Independent Election Commission] (IEC) and the ECC will coordinate with each other and with the electoral campaigns. Finally, given Ghani’s narrow margin over the 50 per cent threshold after the preliminary results, any single ruling could potentially change the outcome of the election, and decide whether there will be a run-off or not.

While the 'final' election results were announced today no explanations were given of how the above problems were solved.

With two persons declaring themselves president of Afghanistan the Trump administration now has a problem.

Alarmed over the situation the U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad rushed to Kabul together with the head of Pakistan's military spy service ISI. They and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan went immediately to Abdullah's headquarter.

Threats will be made and many millions of dollars will be offered. But Abdullah will not give in. His voters and followers want to see him fighting. He will most likely demand a run-off election to stall any further process. Ghani will of course oppose that.

One wonders who in the Trump administration dropped the ball on this issue. Who allowed the final election result to be announced today?

TOLOnews @TOLOnews - 16:09 UTC · Feb 18, 2020

Breaking – Abdullah announces the formation of an “inclusive government.”

The whole election drama could and should have been fixed before it happened.

Abdullah may well think of splitting the north, west and the central Hazara region of Afghanistan from the mainly Pashtun south and east. It would be difficult fight but Afghan's norther neighbors as well as Russia and China may well support him. They see the U.S. incompetence in Afghanistan and the negotiations with the Taliban as a danger to their countries.

Posted by b on February 18, 2020 at 19:36 UTC | Permalink


It’s good to know about the various ethnic groups making up Afghanistan and that partition is a possibility. Unless the boundaries between the various groups are well defined partition will be messy and bloody.

It seems that the Russians Chinese Iranians etc are all playing America at its own regime-game play book. It is only a matter of time before the us and nato retrench to their exhausted and financially broke homelands. Danke sehr

Posted by: James McC | Feb 18 2020 19:50 utc | 1

Lying by Bush and Obama over Afghanistan is this era’s Pentagon Papers:

On Monday[December 9th], The Washington Post published a bombshell six-part series exposing the Bush and Obama administrations for knowingly and repeatedly lying to the American public about the war in Afghanistan.

This is nothing short of this generation’s Pentagon Papers, which exposed the terrible lie of Vietnam. But chances are you haven’t heard of the Afghanistan Papers, because impeachment is sucking the oxygen out of every newsroom, network and political website in America.

Have we lost our ability to be outraged over anything or anyone aside from Trump and his reality-show administration?

Here we now have 2,000 pages of previously secret documents containing interviews with more than 600 people, from decorated generals to intelligence officers to senior White House officials to ambassadors to aid workers to NATO allies to 20 Afghan officials, all telling the same story.

This war, 18 years old, the longest in American history, no end in sight, is unwinnable. It always will be. But the people who send our young men and women to die there, to suffer grave physical injuries, to return with PTSD that can’t be successfully treated or to commit suicide — at a record rate of twenty veterans per day — have known it all along. And they have lied and manipulated numbers and have kept using our troops as cannon fodder to be seen as tough on the War on Terror and win second terms in office.

. . .

[General] McNeill said when he became NATO commander in 2007, “There was no NATO campaign plan . . . I tried to get someone to define what winning meant, even before I went over, and nobody could.”

Yet in 2008, Bush increased US troops by 10,000, to a total of 31,000. That same year, Barack Obama ran on getting all US troops out of Afghanistan; in his first year as president, Obama increased troop levels by 30,000. When asked why, Obama’s go-to reply was always to “disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat al Qaeda.”

But as the SIGAR report makes clear, al Qaeda was long gone, and the Taliban had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

. . .

This time last year, President Trump announced the withdrawal of nearly half our 14,000 soldiers from Afghanistan. In October, The New York Times reported the drawdown was closer to 2,000.

Clearly, no end is in sight.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 18 2020 20:04 utc | 2

it's complicated.. thanks b... it seems like the perfect quagmire... another place where proxy wars are fought endlessly..

Posted by: james | Feb 18 2020 20:11 utc | 3

How about this; The U$A should get the hell out unilaterality, and let the Afghani's make the decisions about their country. But no, the U$A can't do that, because our corporate monsters covet their resources, and strategic location.

Posted by: ben | Feb 18 2020 20:32 utc | 4

jackrabbit @ 2

This war, 18 years old, the longest in American history, no end in sight, is unwinnable. It always will be.

That was obvious to all from the beginning. An understatement of epic proportions. The relentless media push towards war and the bald faced lies coming out of DC are business as usual got the flags waving of the entertainment soaked US public.

Partition and endless fighting would be the perfect solution for those who pushed this forward behind the scenes.

Posted by: dltravers | Feb 18 2020 20:59 utc | 5

It seems to me that the US has no intention of getting out of the heroin business. Whatever agreements are made will be only for show.

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 18 2020 21:18 utc | 6

Political parties and elections are inherently devisive. Back when Afghanistan was a monarchy, major issues would be decided at a majlis (council) of the tribal leaders from across the nation called and presided over by the King. This could go on for several days, but eventually a consensus would be arrived at without talk of secession and parallel governments being declared. Indeed, Afghanistan's woes can be dated back to the overthrow of the monarchy. Maybe restoring this, and the previous consultative system of governance should be considered.

Antoinetta III

Posted by: Antoinetta III | Feb 18 2020 21:26 utc | 7

It is interesting that Antoinetta III @ 7 suggests that a restoration of the pre-1973 monarchy in Afghanistan should be considered. Restoration of monarchy in Iran has also been raised in some Western political and media commentary despite a survey having been done among diaspora Iranians in the US in 2018 showing more support for a parliamentary democracy / republican form of government than for any other, including constitutional monarchy. I wonder where this idea and talk of restoring monarchy in Afghanistan and Iran have come from and who is/are supporting such a notion.

I am sure most Saudis are familiar with the idea of a majlis that consults and advises a king, and proposes laws, but can do no further. One wonders how such an arrangement benefits most Saudis who do not have direct access (or the money to pay for direct access) to the King or the Killer Klown Prince, or any of their thousands of princely relatives.

In the first place we should be asking why the monarchy had to fall in Afghanistan in 1973 and what the socialist government was able to achieve in that short period between 1973 and 1991 when the Soviet Union fell.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 18 2020 22:28 utc | 8

Iran will not give Trump any opportunity to claim a political victory in Afghanistan before the presidential election. Quite the contrary, they will incite instability and attacks on US forces to embarass Trump as much as possible. They are doing everything to jeopardize the discussions going on. They are certainly behind Abdullah Abdullah's claims and would not mind splitting Afghanistan into 2 pieces when they will take the Persian speaking north and leave the Pashtu speaking area to Pakistan.
For Iran it is too big an opportunity to take revenge on Trump... They won't miss it!

Posted by: Virgile | Feb 18 2020 23:35 utc | 9

Lol. I'm sure the CIA would love to install a monarchy, or a dictatorship, or military rule... anything they can control and establish some sort of foothold that isn't resting on sand. Why would the Taliban accept this? Because the USA thinks it is a good idea? I am pretty sure they could care less what the USA or Antoinetta III thinks. They have learned that the only thing the USA understands is force. They do not come to the negotiating table unless they have to. If you are against USA rule you have to grab your guns and force the USA to the table. Wait and exhaust them out. The Iranians overthrew the Shah in 1979 overturning the 1953 CIA backed coup government. I don't think they have any intention of going back to that without a fight either.

Posted by: goldhoarder | Feb 18 2020 23:45 utc | 10

trump's handlers are striving for another "Peace with Honour " redux so he can blow that out of his gaping pie hole during the upcoming election campaign. (to feed the hunger of da base)

Remember how the last Peace with Honour deal worked out?

However I doubt it will be exactly the same, more like what the US should have done when their Mujadheen partners helped them to banish the USSR back in the day. Pay the tribute. The US didn't live up to it's promises of economic support to it's Islamic heroes and a rift ensued. Which subsequently led to the greatest brains of all time in Washington town doing a recalculation. Then another recalculation, and another and another.. damn they are prolific in that

Then the Mighty Sam set about to set those 17th century illiterate, former freedom fighters straight about who is the boss man.

Corrections followed as necessary.

But at end of day, the 17th Century Man said the most meaningful thing of all, and in keeping with history, and unlike his adversary the men of many many many words, 17th Century man said.."The American's have all the watches, we have all the time."

I remember my first thought when I heard my country was going to Afghanistan to get involved in that..As an amateur student of history, I said to myself, they had better be prepared to stay for a very very long time.

Posted by: Bubbles | Feb 18 2020 23:51 utc | 11

New rule,
Before anyone can make a deal with Afghanistan, they have to be able to spell the word Afghanistan, and find that nation on a map.

Posted by: Josh | Feb 19 2020 0:24 utc | 12

The Taliban will sort out these difficulties with the democratic process soon enough.

Posted by: Soleimani's Ghost | Feb 19 2020 0:38 utc | 13

Just another DNC election rort. I don't see the USA getting emotional about it. If the wrong guy declares victory they will appeal to the DRONE court who's decision is always final.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 19 2020 0:39 utc | 14

Antoinette III #7

Collective decision making? Perish the thought. That's how Afghanistan has resolved leaders for millennia. USA CLOWNS..

.Make America Go Away. I

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 19 2020 0:45 utc | 15

If the empire is still extant in 50 years, of itself a long shot, the odds are at least two to one that amerika will still be there in Afghanistan fighting the 'Taliban' aka the independence movement.
Whether amerika gets out or stays in is irrelevant to anything happening inside Afghanistan, it is 100% dependent on amerika's corrupt political systems. No prez wants his 'legacy' to be losing its longest war, so no prez will pull out.
That was how orange creature & oblamblam were dissuaded - "You want that as your legacy?

Ever since Herman Goering rotated his fighter and bomber pilots through the Spanish Civil War, the belief that 'blooding' troops & testing killing machines in a not too big, not too small conflict has appealed to military administrators. During the Vietnam conflict while Harold Wilson was proudly stating brit soldiers were well away from that horror show, unbeknownst to the brit pm, england's special forces (chiefly the SAS) were being 'rotated' through kiwi & Oz SAS units, to get blooded.

'Staying on' appeals to many staff officer types, while it generates billions of dollars worth of military contracts every year for the most favoured corporations who of course stay most favoured by offering big salary gigs to those same staff officers on their retirement.

I just cannot see any corporation or individual prepared to outbid the defense lobbyists in order to push a strategy through which has no big profit upside.
Remember Vietnam only ended because of the draft combined with a surfeit of returning body-bags. Afghanistan is being not seriously fought by a volunteer army whose 2019 fatalities amounted to 22, down from a high of 499 in 2010.
By 1969 more US troops were KIA each month than died in 2010 in Afghanistan - the worst year for amerikan casualties there.

Yeah I know the billions maybe trillions - well frankly does anyone really expect any of the cabal of corrupt DC fucks to move any of 'their' MIC money into such worthless endeavours as Housing, Education or Healthcare? Let's be real.

Posted by: A User | Feb 19 2020 1:16 utc | 16

Somebody should introduce some Houthi drone builders to the Taliban, That might substantially change the equation there.

Posted by: John Sanguinetti | Feb 19 2020 1:26 utc | 17

Calling this a war gives war a bad name. Its an occupation like South Korea, Iraq, Japan and Germany. Still some resistance, thats all. The US will be in Afghanistan 60 years from now, once the resistance stops , if it stops, it wont be called a war or even an occupation, but thats what it will be.

I’m sure Trumps plan was just as fair as his Palestinian plan. I am sure the election was run as well as the Dems Iowa elections or the 2000 chad tainted election. I am sure none of it matters with regards to the US current and future occupation of Afghanistan.

Posted by: Pft | Feb 19 2020 3:06 utc | 18

Calling this a war gives war a bad name. Its an occupation like South Korea, Iraq, Japan and Germany. Still some resistance, thats all. The US will be in Afghanistan 60 years from now, once the resistance stops , if it stops, it wont be called a war or even an occupation, but thats what it will be.

I’m sure Trumps plan was just as fair as his Palestinian plan. I am sure the election was run as well as the Dems Iowa elections or the 2000 chad tainted election. I am sure none of it matters with regards to the US current and future occupation of Afghanistan.

Posted by: Pft | Feb 19 2020 3:06 utc | 18

Spoken like someone that has been there. This whole BS about the graveyard of Empires is schlock. Simple matter is Afghan has strategic significance, but the cost of occupation is too high for long term occupation. The Russkies declared peace and left, and their supply line was a lot less expensive then what the US has to deal with. Just paying off the Pakis would pay the national debt. These 'people' will never like us; hell they don't like themselves, why should they like us? Restoring the Monarchy? Fine, except the Kingdom was only Kabul and Herat, and supply lines that were lucrative enough to pay off the locals. All have to do is leave those assholes alone; will be just like when the hippies were there in the 60s. All they have to do back then was haul ass through the Khyber Pass and the rest of the country didn't give a shit as long as they minded their manners. These people just want to be left alone in their 7th Century paradise. Child brides, butt bois and dope. The ultimate expression of Islam, though the Pashtuns are basically Orthodox Jews on steroids in their beliefs. That is food for thought. Some Israelis anthropologists researching the lost tribes concluded that the Pathans were a definite possibility. The mud is muddled.

Posted by: Pat | Feb 19 2020 5:41 utc | 19

Agree with Pft #18

This is not a war but a decades long occupation, one of many endless US occupations since WWII.

Posted by: TEP | Feb 19 2020 7:14 utc | 20

Pat | Feb 19 2020 5:41 utc | 19
Typical victim blaming imperialist garbage. No wonder amerika's military get done like a dinner when they do manage to summon the balls to leave their fortresses - they are too busy judging something they are too inflexible to understand to be fighting the Pashtu as well.

Posted by: A User | Feb 19 2020 7:28 utc | 21

Traveling thru Afghanistan the Summer and Fall of 1977 and understanding a little bit of the local Persian language version (called "Dari") i all over the country (except in Kabul) heard men worry about being counted : the prospect of a census worried them because they saw it as a prelude to heavier taxation. They just puffed at bogus explanation that it was in order to assess how many representatives were to be sent to the national assembly from each district in the country .
Now, the US of North A arrived some time ago and almost at once started photographing and bio-profiling each individual Afghan they could grab hold of and hold on to for more than half a second.

Posted by: Tû Èrfù (土二夫) | Feb 19 2020 10:02 utc | 22

Pat @ 19 says:

hell they[Afghanis] don't like themselves,...

well, i'd sure like to hear you quantify that statement, you racist piece of shit.

1,700 years of Pashtunwali, the Pashtun code of honour, which emphasises personal behaviour over State induced conformity, would suggest not only otherwise, but that they like themselves very much.

a quiet, orderly, decentralized agrarian society, with a little hashish thrown in...gosh, sounds downright anarchic!

Posted by: john | Feb 19 2020 10:55 utc | 23

John Sanguinetti #17

Oh you can be sure they now fully understand how to assemble the new suliemani spitfires as we speak. It is revenge time and we will likely live in it for years to come.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 19 2020 11:56 utc | 24

Merchants (and their lackeys) get rich while state goes broke.

Making the world safe for the dollar and banking.

Lots of broken windows.

- Michael Hudson.

Posted by: jared | Feb 19 2020 13:20 utc | 25

Oh, and off the books income for contingencies.

Posted by: jared | Feb 19 2020 13:22 utc | 26

Pat | Feb 19 2020 5:41 utc is moderately informed. Afghan monarchy (and the Republic that followed, basically, cousin of the king made a coup, but somehow preferred to be President rather than King, modernity and all such) did control the territory, did some public works like road construction and apparently, there was tax collection. I suspect that the taxes were indirect, because they are easier to collect in less advanced states, so they do not require census. Monarchy had no ambitions to change customs etc., so there were no huge problem, but some started to arise toward the end.

Concerning "graveyard of empire" business, Afghanistan was peripheral and lacked significant materials, so few empires bothered. However, it gives potential to make troubles in neighboring states, hence some interest. British were paranoid of Russian reaching India, so they send half-assed expedition. Soviet stumbled into the situation, in part to prevent Afghanistan to drift into the Western orbit like Egypt, and with a potential to cause problems in their Central Asia. As long as Americans do not want to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to make trouble around it, the value is nil.

Were the costs of keeping position there small, and the trouble making potential high, it could make some sense, but neither is true. Minerals and pipelines require big infrastructure investments and thus, modicum of stability and security. There could be a hope like that, but fleeting at best. The reality is that all "strategic values" boil down to some justification of MIC that gobbles many times more than any possible revenue that could be collected as a result. Trump was dismayed that the tribute collected from vassals is so small compared with Pentagon budget (plus all those agencies that create "consensus") so he tried to push it up, but even with his valiant effort, Gulfies purchases of overpriced hardware and looting bank accounts of Venezuela and now Iraq brings pitiful amounts compared with 800-900 billion per year for Pentagon and the agencies.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 19 2020 19:34 utc | 27

Memory Lane:

In 2001, negotiations with the Taliban were ‘ongoing’. Which was mostly (from the US, but not only, the UN etc. as well) condemnatory etc., i.e. not genuine parlays.

The Int’l community gave the nod to a US invasion before 9/11.

(Not detailed in the link.)

June 22, 2001. The US Dpt. of State issued a world wide ‘caution’ for US citizens warning of an Osama Bin Laden related terrorist attack. (OBL was the poster boy terrorist who appeared on many MSM US TV channels.)

July 2, 2001. Jalil, a Taleb Min, tells W. Millam, the US amb to Pak, that OBL has NOT been convicted, thus, the Taliban consider him innocent.

July 3, 2001. The US justifies its sanctions on Afghanistan because Afgh. is protecting OBL.

(wiki > mostly correct but ‘narrow picks’ timeline.)

Close on 20 years later the US is still ‘negotiating’ with the Taliban. Why?

Because the US is running a War Economy without naming it as such. Which hugely benefits in-country (mostly but not only) Corps and Oligarchs, the MIC and a huge no. of varied hangers-on.

Then there is the drug trade, other aspect.

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 20 2020 16:28 utc | 28

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