February 16, 2010

More on Afghanistan, Iran

Posted in Middle East, War tagged , , , at 13:42 by Matthijs Krul

Two developments from central Asia dominate the news: on the one hand, there is the higher pitch of battle in Afghanistan, where the new ‘surge’ strategy by America and its allies seeks to regain control over the wayward provinces and political stability, and on the other hand there is the nuclearization of Iran during a time of internal strife in that country. Just now, coalition forces together with the hastily drummed up ‘Afghan National Army’ are assaulting a Taliban stronghold in the backward and dangerous province of Helmand, attempting to dislodge the Taliban from the southern provinces and regaining the political initiative. This latter point is relevant because of the fiasco of the recent elections for the Afghan Presidency. These elections were widely suspected to be fraudulent, including by the foreign commission to supervise them, but more importantly perhaps the turnout for them was vastly lower compared to the first elections not long after the defeat of the Taliban. The cynicism which saw Hamid Karzai retain power despite the fraud and the manner in which he managed to call the Americans’ bluff when it came to replacing him over it will do nothing to reinvigorate the flagging Afghan confidence in their new government structures. Karzai in the meantime is attempting to consolidate his now more independent position. He has always been much more favorable to the warlords and more inclined to compromise with the old forces than the West and its supporters in the region enjoyed, but now the Americans have shown themselves unwilling or unable to find an alternative to his rule, he can more safely afford to ignore their political demands in the domestic arena. This is shown in practice by his proposed electoral law changes, which would make candidates for office highly more dependent on external financing (i.e. robbery and drug trade, like the warlords) and reduce the participation of women in national politics, much disliked by the traditionalists whom Karzai persistently seeks to win over.(1)

All of this therefore makes it clear that the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan have to make a good showing on the scene to regain the initiative and the attention of the Afghans. Everything depends on the degree to which the Afghan population overall perceives the current situation, including occupation, as superior to the alternatives. Read the rest of this entry »

October 18, 2009

More developments regarding Iran

Posted in Middle East, Politics tagged , , , , at 23:53 by Matthijs Krul

Things in and around the Islamic Republic of Iran have changed significantly since the last article on this topic. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been inaugurated for his second term as President of the state, despite the widespread prior protests alleging voter fraud. It is clear now that the rebellion following the elections of this summer has been defeated, and that power has been restored by the ruling clique of the country, although that clique has been much divided and destabilized as a result of the events. In the meantime, the main topic is the Iranian nuclear programme, which has caught the gaze of the international community. Read the rest of this entry »

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