Afghan rival leaders Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah ended a long dispute over the winner of June presidential election to form a ruling tandem, never seen in the Afghan history. However, a national unity government may not improve Kabul’s troubled relations with the US: outgoing president Karzai lashed out at America and called on his successors to be very careful with the West.
Studio guest Victor Mizin, Deputy Director of the Institute of Strategic Assessment, and Boris Volkhonsky, Deputy Head of the Center for Asia and Middle East at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, shared their opinions with Radio VR.
As far as I understand, no official figures on the result of the vote have been released yet. Why has this tandem been formed?
Boris Volkhonsky: I think that counting the votes in Afghanistan is a very difficult task and, probably, if the counting process continued for some indefinite time longer, eventually we would never get the exact results. So, there was kind of a compromise on both sides and they decided that Ashraf Ghani should be the President and Abdullah will take an invented position of a CEO of the executive power, because they don’t have a prime ministerial position there. That is a deal to try to preserve kind of a status quo. The threat of the Taliban coming to power is very real, so it is kind of a last ditch attempt to consolidate the forces supporting the present authorities.
I think it is probably more appropriate to say that this is some sort of a triangle, because we also have an outgoing President Karzai, who actually goes nowhere. And he lashed out at the US this week, what is the reason for that. Do you think that the ruling duo will follow his advice to be very careful with the West?
Boris Volkhonsky: I'm not sure that Karzai is going nowhere, because as far as I understand he is getting a position of kind of a counselor for the new president or something like that. You are right to say that it is kind of a triangle, but maybe this situation has even more angles, because there is the US, which is going to preserve its presence there. Karzai rejected to sign an agreement on the prolongation of the US military stay there and both candidates agreed to sign it.
So, some kind of a military presence will be preserved there, but it will be not enough to control the whole territory and the field commanders will get the real power-forming role in the future Afghanistan. There are also commercial interests of China and India there, and also Iran. And this raises the role of regional powers. So, it is much more than the three angles in the future combination of power and it is difficult to predict how that will work.
The talk of the day is the spillover Islamic threat. Where is Afghanistan on the map of the Islamic threat?
Boris Volkhonsky: It has been there for decades. Definitely, there is a threat coming from Afghanistan. This is a primary concern the neighbouring countries, of the regional forces and organizations. So, I think that it gives a new impetus for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to raise its role in dealing with this problem. I think the fact that India and Pakistan are going to join this SCO very soon is a very positive development, and that would help them handling all the problems there.
Victor Mizin: There is no solution to the Afghan problem, pretty much like the British colonizers were unable to do anything in Afghanistan. Now, there is a complete fiasco of coalition and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I think that the future of this country, unfortunately, despite all the efforts of the regional powers, of the international community, of the process under the aegis of the UN is very opaque.