Speaking to the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Mohammad Reza Asgari Muroudi, referring to the political situation in Afghanistan and the criticism of political figures against Ashraf Ghani‘s performance during Trump’s trip to Bagram, noted: Donald Trump‘s two-hour trip to Afghanistan was done secretly, unexpectedly and overnight. According to what has been reported in the media from his talks with Ashraf Ghani, this trip was perhaps the most ineffective trips of Trump during his presidency in Kabul-Washington relations.
He added: “At the level of the Afghan people, media and political figures, Trump’s behavior towards the Afghan people and government has been assessed as possessive and humiliating. The move by Ashraf Ghani to go to Bagram to see Trump was a breach of diplomatic norms. The Afghan people were expecting Ghani to meet Trump at the presidential palace.
The Asia expert, referring to Ghani’s presence among US troops at Bagram Military Base, said: “After Mr. Ashraf Ghani’s speech, Trump asked him to join the American troops and stand even behind Trump, which was considered a humiliation.”
For this reason, Afghan MPs urged Ghani to apologize to the Afghan people for ignoring diplomatic norms and for not responding to Trump’s humiliating behavior.
Asgari added: Perhaps part of Ghani’s decision to attend the Bagram military base and the inadequate response to Trump’s humiliating behavior should be assessed in the context of the conditions he is facing these days. Ashraf Ghani faces a wave of protests over the post-election political climate and the vote counting. Some of the election candidates accuse Ghani of rigging the election.
He explained: Despite the fact that the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) had stated that non-biometric votes would not interfere with the final results, the commission appears to have backed down due to government pressure and some government agencies. In recent days, supporters of Abdullah, who have formed the Afghan Stability and Convergence Team, have staged protests in Kabul and even threatened that the protests could spread to other cities in Afghanistan.
Pointing to the delay in announcing the election results and its impact on the social and political environment of Afghanistan, the Asian affairs expert added: “From the very first days the process of holding elections in Afghanistan began and even before that, many Afghan candidates in view of Ashraf Ghani’s approaches accused him of engineering the election. They insisted that the biometric method should be used in the elections. Due to pressures from the public and political parties the election was held despite all the shortcomings in technical fields and infrastructure using the biometric system. The departure of the IEC from its previous stance on non-biometric balloting shows that part of the government body in Afghanistan has been pressuring the entity to do the counting in a way that would support a certain candidate.
He added: In view of the warning issued by many political figures and the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan, it seems that the situation in the political and social scenes of Afghanistan regarding the presidential elections is getting critical these days due to the same secrecy and lack of transparency in the process of vote counting and a similar situation may emerge in Afghanistan like what happened in 2014 that led to clashes between supporters of candidates.
Asgari citing the unrest that followed the announcement of the 2014 presidential election results and US intervention in the country, said: “Although a National Unity Government was formed in Afghanistan over the past five years, there were many signs of conflict and clash of interests between Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani in various areas of power and in national and local domains. Abdullah even lost many of his supporters and coreligionists in Jamiat-e lslami Party of Afghanistan because in their opinion he did not display a strong position in decision-making and decision-taking process, and many of his supporters did not vote for him in this election.
“Given the current situation in Afghanistan, in the coming weeks and days, as the street demonstrations of supporters of various candidates become widespread, there may be some serious and violent clashes between supporters and the possible intervention of security forces.”
The Asia affairs expert on the nomination of a “council of election candidates” to create a participatory government with all the candidates said, “The project is neither within the framework of the Afghan constitution nor is it currently accepted by political groups and the people of the country.”
The more political stability in Afghanistan is undermined, the more insecurity and violence will worsen. People expect the electoral bodies, political groups and parties and government to help protect the votes of the people and if the quorum is not met, a second round of elections be held. Given that the early results have been delayed so far, the announcement of final results due to the tense conditions in Afghanistan’s political, security and social environment could cause more sparks in this space.
Asgari also commented on the Taliban’s negotiating status with the United States and the need for inter-Afghan talks. He said after 9 rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar, Trump ordered talks to stop and now there are signs of Trump’s positive stance to resume those talks, But we must keep in mind that the prospect of peace in Afghanistan cannot be a positive one until talks between the United States and the Taliban lead to the formation of an Afghan-Afghan dialogue.
He stressed: Given that one side of any peace agreement must be the Afghan government; if the Americans continue to insist on their position, achieving any possible agreement cannot be a message of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Particularly after the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the former Taliban leader, the group has been split into a major faction and two splinter factions, the gap between them essentially overshadowing the prospect of a peace deal with the main Taliban faction.
Asgari added: “If the Americans are really honest in their claims and want to act according to their slogans, they should provide the ground for dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government and the necessary precondition for this is the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.” Considering that in their talks with the Americans, the Taliban have repeatedly insisted on their condition that the United States should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan to substantiate its claim so that the Taliban would be encouraged to hold talks with the government by modifying its positions. In this case, it is hoped that any negotiations that lead to an agreement could end the war and violence in the country.
The Asian affairs analyst, referring to Iran’s role in strengthening peace and stability in Afghanistan, said: “Given that Iran has welcomed millions of Afghan refugees and immigrants over the past three decades and has strongly supported the Northern Alliance in the war with the Taliban, and has had effective involvement in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, it seems likely to play a role in encouraging the Taliban to enter the peace process with the Afghan government, which some Iranian officials have been discussing with a Taliban delegation in Tehran.
The Taliban also hopes to gain the support of these countries for possible entry into power and participation in the future of Afghanistan’s political structure through consultation with regional actors, including Iran. In this context, the Taliban are trying to express their expectations and demands of what is referred to as the Afghanistan Peace Agreement.
Asgari said that Taliban talks with Iran are considered an option to reach a solution to Afghan crisis. “Iran is trying to stimulate inter-Afghan talks due to political and security considerations in the region. Iran is probably one of the few countries that carry out these measures in coordination with Afghan government officials, while many regional and trans-regional actors such as the US have conducted talks without informing and coordinating with the Afghan government. It seems that what Iran has been doing over the past year towards the peace process in Afghanistan has been based on its own security considerations and what is defined as national interests and security in Afghanistan.