Thursday, September 16, 2010

Operation Afghan Democracy

The elections are underway in Afghanistan, not that you'd know it from the rather minimalist press coverage on the subject. I mean it's not as if these elections have been controversial (ie rigged) in the past, or that Afghanistan is a prominent part of our foreign policy.

As well as taking place amidst a military offensive in the south the US also killed two protesters today, and four more have been killed over the last week by Afghan police. You can feel the place getting more democratic with every bullet fired can't you?

They really are becoming more Western as we speak. Yes, the bank has failed in Kabul with many customers unable to withdraw money due to queues and, cough, lack of money. But this isn't just a failed bank, it's a corrupt unregulated bank working hand in glove with the regime that helped to steal last year's elections.

Juan Cole points to the that the bank "gave millions to the presidential campaign of Hamid Karzai last summer" has an executive as election advisor and Karzai's brother owns 9% of the bank. "NATO should not have allowed Karzai to steal the presidential election. (At least now we have more of an idea how the theft was accomplished). It should not have allowed him to block corruption investigations."

We criticise the Taliban, rightly, over their attitude towards women's rights and human rights more generally, but turn a blind eye to Karzai's government when it commits the exact same offences.

Women activists in Afghanistan say democracy is moving backwards "Five years ago things were different... Women campaigned openly even in provinces like Kandahar and Helmand. “I could not believe that women were able to put up their posters in those areas,” Saqeb said. “But they conducted campaigns and they won. Now — forget about it.”

“There are not going to be elections in Kandahar,” she snorted. “There is no security, and everything there has already been decided.”

Without financial or Western backing for bodyguards women candidates and anti-occupation candidates find themselves in mortal danger. If you're not part of the puppet regime it is extremely difficult to make your voice heard as security forces refuse to give protection to opposition and women candidates.

Reuters reports on electoral fraud complaints against government officials going uninvestigated and protests against lack of polling stations being attacked by police - and of course the election boycott by Taliban supporters and the fact three candidates have been killed in recent weeks.

This is not what democracy looks like, so the press seem to have decided to look away. David Miliband should get up and tell us how well his war is going, that should help his Labour leadership election campaign if, that is, he hasn't already bought the result.

1 comment:

Young and Young said...

The next decade is going to be really rough for the middle east. The transition to democracy will not be easy but once it works for one country others will start to catch on.