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A Perfect Storm in Afghanistan?

February 20, 2020

Episode Notes:

Background: This week, the Afghan Election Commission certified the results of the September 28 Presidential elections.  Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani was declared the victor by a narrow margin, with 50.64% of the votes.  His main challenger, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, with whom he has served in a “unity government” since 2014, received 39.5% of the vote.  Dr. Abduallah has rejected the certification of the election commission, making allegations of widespread fraud.  He has declared his intention to form a “parallel government” rather than accept the legitimacy of Mr. Ghani’s victory.

This disputed election result comes at the same time that US and Taliban negotiators are expected to shortly announce a negotiated peace settlement, which will likely involve the withdrawal of some US forces and release of Taliban prisoners. In advance of this agreement, both sides have announced a seven-day period of reduced violence.  The Taliban have indicated that they do not accept Mr. Ghani’s electoral victory, but also have a history of fierce opposition to Dr. Abdullah, who was associated with the Northern Alliance.

To discuss what this means, we are joined by Ambassador Ryan Crocker.  Ambasssador Crocker is a visiting lecturer and diplomat in residence at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs.  He served as a foreign service officer from 1972-2010 and was recalled to active service in 2011 to serve as US Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2011-2012. In addition, he has served as US Ambassador to Pakistan (2004-2007), Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon.



[ 01:56 ] What should we make of the election certification? Is it likely to be accepted as valid by the Afghan public?


[ 03:12 ] What effect do you anticipate that the election results will have on the US-Taliban peace talks?


[ 04:44 ]Will the disputed election affect the ability of the government to enforce the period of reduced violence?


[ 06:55 ] What do the confluence of the disputed election results and the likelihood that some US forces will be withdrawn and former Taliban prisoners released portend for the future of the Afghan government?


[ 09:58 ] What do you see as the role/response of Pakistan to these events? How about Al Qaeda?

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