US Election Meddling in Afghanistan? Or Someone Else?

  • Karzai has a very firm but tenuous relationship with the United States.
  • US views changed as Karzai moved closer to Iran. 
  • Russia and Iran are working in tandem.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently made striking accusations against the United States. Karzai is claiming the US is trying to meddle in the upcoming September 28, 2019 presidential elections. The former Afghan president is insinuating that Afghan citizens have no influence over who the US installs into the executive office. These allegations may cause a new round of tensions in Afghanistan, and at a time where international peace negotiators are trying to organize a treaty that will allow an exit for the US led peacekeeping coalition.

Hamid Karzai (born 24 December 1957) is an Afghan politician who was the President of Afghanistan from 22 December 2001 to 29 September 2014. He comes from a politically active family; Karzai’s father, uncle and grandfather were all active in Afghan politics and government. Karzai and his father before him, Abdul Ahad Karzai, were each head of the Popalzai tribe of the Durrani tribal confederation.

Currently, there are 18 presidential contenders set to run for president in the upcoming national elections. The front runners are considered the incumbent Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and former national security adviser Muhammad Hanif Atmar.

Karzai has a very firm but tenuous relationship with the United States. Karzai was a political lieutenant for Massoud, the former anti-Soviet, anti- Taliban Northern Alliance commander, and an early US supporter and ally. Karzai would later become the first post-invasion Afghan president.

When Hamid Karzai became Head of State in 2001, the US Congress was very favorable to the idea of establishing positive relationships and an ally in fighting terrorism in the region. Karzai became the first democratically elected leader in 2004.  The Afghan government consists of the council of members, provincial governors and the national assembly. The president is the head of state and commander in chief of the Afghan Armed Forces.

Afghanistan is known as the world’s largest producer of opium. Sources indicate that as much as 11% or more of the nation’s economy is derived from the cultivation and sale of opium.

US aid and military support poured into Afghanistan and, along with the dynamics of the region, enriched Karzai and his family members. US views changed as Karzai moved closer to Iran.  Afghanistan is one of the largest exporters of the opium drug trade, which travels through Iran to get to Europe.  Iran, has been known in the past to be proactive in stopping such shipments. The latest being 1.6 tones on July 30th, 2019. However, the rampant corruption within Afghanistan continues to let poppy fields flourish and the drug trade continues.

Karzai’s negative comments pertaining to the US are hypocrisy. In 2013, the New York Times published a story entitled, “Karzai Says He Was Assured C.I.A Would Continue Delivering Bags of Cash.”

Karzai was also accused of taking bribes from Iran and undermining women. His betrayal was very clear during the Raisina Dialogue in the New Delhi.

Russia and Iran are working in tandem. Russia is showing renewed interest in Afghanistan, even though it failed to control the country in the 1980s. The Islamic Party in Afghanistan since last year has been blatantly signaling their desire for Russia to have involvement in Afghanistan. In Russia, new “Afghanistan” premiered in 2019– a crude production plant opening 2019 in the North-West region of Afghanistan and owned by the Former Soviet military officer.  Russia does not have proactive interests in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Russia does have an interest in Asia and forming additional alliances with China. Putin is continuing his vision of recreating Soviet Union, and Afghanistan borders Kazakstan, revealing certain geopolitical interests in the region.

Are Russia and Iran trying to sway Afghan elections and thwart the cause of democracy in the region? Are they seizing the opportunity provided by the US scaling down their military presence and support. Is Hamid Karzai being funded by Iran and Russia in order to cause further division in the already war torn country, with the one of the highest rates of opium addictions and poverty?

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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